UPDATED: Stephen Colbert officially retired his Colbert Report persona last night after facing legal troubles following his July 18 edition of The Late Show and introduced his identical twin cousin – yes – Stephen Colbert. In the July 18 episode, Colbert, as his Colbert Report alter ego, did one of his signature segments, The Word.
“This is true, immediately after that show, CBS’ top lawyer was contacted by the top lawyer for another company to say that the character Stephen Colbert is their intellectual property,” Colbert said on Late Show Wednesday. He would not specify which company that is but sources indicate it is Comedy Central parent (and former CBS corporate sibling) Viacom. “So it is with a heavy heart that I announce that thanks to corporate lawyers, the character Stephen Colbert, host of The Colbert Report, will never be seen again.”
Amidst boos from the audience, Colbert added, “I feel the same way but what can I do? The lawyers have spoken. I cannot reasonably argue I own my face or name,” he said. “And as much as I’d like to have that guy on again, I can’t.”
So exactly how are Stephen Colbert and his cousin identical? Stephen Colbert the cousin explained via satellite from the Democratic National Convention.
“It’s simple, Stephen. Our moms were identical twins who married identical twin husbands, then had sex at the exact same moment and gave us the same name.” He added, he was “happy to be here tonight to save this country and join the Late Show team.” Yes, it looks like he’ll be a permanent fixture on the show.
Then the real Colbert gave his take the 2016 election in The Werd (note not The Word per legal issues). He said, noting both candidates extraordinarily low approval ratings, “the polls show many Americans have chosen the outcome we really want” with the words “Canadian Citizenship?” written on a screen to his right. And that’s just the beginning. Check out the video above.
Other late-night hosts who have switched networks and left popular characters and segments behind include Colbert’s Late Show predecessor David Letterman as well as Letterman’s successor at NBC, Conan O’Brien.
Viacom has not responded to emails seeking comment.