The first question many have wondered since CBS announced that Comedy Central star Stephen Colbert will replace David Letterman as host of "The Late Show" is this: Will an out-of-character Colbert be as good as the ultra-conservative pundit he satirized on "The Colbert Report"?
While people throughout the media world are questioning whether Colbert is the right fit for "The Late Show," many who know Colbert personally (and those who have paid close attention to him over the years) say he’s an incredibly diverse and talented comedian, actor and, believe it or not, singer.
Jon Stewart, perhaps the one person who knows Colbert’s skills better than anyone, told New York Magazine's Vulture last night that Colbert would be a “remarkable” host of "The Late Show" who's “got gears he hasn’t even shown people yet.”
“He’s got some skill sets that are really applicable, interviewing-wise, but also he’s a really, really good actor and also an excellent improvisational comedian," Stewart said. "He’s also got great writing skills. He’s got a lot of the different capacities.”
Colbert is a masterful interviewer on "The Colbert Report" who often comes up with quick-witted responses, all while in character as the faux right-wing pundit named ... Stephen Colbert. But can he interview out of character?
Watch him interview frequent guest and friend Neil deGrasse Tyson at the Kimberley Academy in New Jersey below. While he's certainly more laid back than what you might expect from a host on "The Late Show," Colbert shows he can disarm guests and control the flow of conversation in his most sincere demeanor:
Whatever people want to speculate, Colbert told the late Tim Russert on "Meet the Press" back in 2007 that he doesn’t have much trouble switching in and out of his character, saying he lives by the rule he learned at Chicago’s famed Second City improvisational comedy group: “Wear your character as lightly as a cap."
While most of us know the fake Colbert, Stephen himself seems more than confident that he hasn't lost himself in the character:
Just last month, Colbert was a guest on one of his soon-to-be late-night rival shows, "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon," and he stepped out of character to tell Fallon what it was like to sit at President Obama's table at a recent White House dinner. He's not on the interviewer's side of the mic, but it's clear Colbert knows what he's doing even when he not performing in-character: