In an interview, Colbert explains to former Comedy Central correspondent-turned-CBS News correspondent Mo Rocca how Colbert spent a decade playing a Comedy Central newsman. He was so successful that people mistook him for “an actual pundit or newsman, eventually, over the years,” Colbert says in the Sunday interview. (Which created a certain amount of hoo-ha when CBS announced it had signed Colbert to replace David Letterman on Late Show. Most hyperventilating was Rush Limbaugh, who announced CBS had “declared war on the heartland of America” with the hire.)
Now, just days before he takes over as host of The Late Show, Colbert tells Rocca — who was a Daily Show’s correspondent from 1998 to 2003 — that he’s happy he doesn’t have to pretend to be someone else. The goal of his new gig is “to have fun with my friends,” which means “sometimes talking about things that you care about. We’re going to want to be talking about what’s going on in the world.”
(Back when CBS News announced its Rocca hire, it also felt some need to explain. Sunday Morning’s EP said at the time, “his title is Correspondent, but we see Mo, as we see all our Sunday Morning contributors, as a ‘columnist,’ bringing his own unique – and it is unique – perspective to everything he does.”
In Sunday’s segment, Colbert also will discuss the death of his father and two brothers in an airplane crash when Colbert was 10 – an event he says changed his view of the world.
“It certainly gives you one step back from society or what is considered normality,” Colbert says. “Because it’s a shock to the system to lose your father and your brothers at that age. And school and friends and homework and that value system suddenly doesn’t mean anything anymore. And I think it really helps, if you’re doing comedy or maybe even specifically doing satire, is that what seems normal no longer has status.”