The mysterious suspension prompted widespread speculation after Comedy Central made the made the cryptic, late-breaking announcement Wednesday-- after some had already been seated for the taping.
Due to unforeseen circumstances, the show will air repeat episodes on Wednesday, February 15 and Thursday, February 16, network spokesman Steve Albani said in an e-mailed statement. The Colbert Report does not normally tape on Fridays.
At the top of Monday night's taping, Stephen Colbert took a moment to address the public curiosity and concern over his brief absence.
Before we start the broadcast tonight I just want to address my recent absence from the national conversation; from the hub around which the republic turns, Colbert joked. I can understand why the machinery of this great nation ground to a halt last week when you were denied this [gestures to his face]. Now I'm sure you felt the same way I do when I'm in a room with no mirrors.
He then listed some of the wild rumors that had surfaced to explain his absence:
- The Colbert Report was cancelled by the FCC, by the request of the Federal Election Commission, because he was about to announce his Presidential candidacy. (Not gonna happen, he said.)
- The show was cancelled because Colbert offended the Catholic church by comparing the Pope's hat to a giant, yet stylish, prophylactic.
- Colbert went to rehab. (Always an attractive option, if they have that for Diet Coke, he said.)
- Per an accusation from Joan Rivers, Colbert took time off for plastic surgery.
Before moving on he said: Evidently, having 11 children makes you tough as nails ... confidential to a lovely lady, and then pointed to his nose in a signature Colbert gesture.
On Thursday, Huffington Post reported that a source who has a business relationship with [The Colbert Report] told them Colbert's 91-year-old mother, Lorna Colbert, was seriously ill.
Colbert had briefly addressed the outpouring of concern via Twitter on Feb. 17. My family and I would like to thank everyone who has offered their thoughts and prayers, Colbert tweeted. We are grateful and touched by your concern.
Colbert reportedly has a close relationship with his mother, and devoted a segment of a 2008 show to her, corresponding with Mother's Day.
The Colbert family suffered a devastating tragedy when Stephen was ten years old: On Sept. 11, 1974, Colbert's father James, along with two of Stephen's brothers, were killed in a plane crash. (Colbert is one of 11 children born to James and Lorna Colbert).
He discussed the tragedy again in a 2009 interview for CBS News. When reporter Daniel Schorn suggested that comedians sometimes turn to humor to cope with painful experiences, Colbert didn't argue.
I think I did my best to cheer my mom up, he said.