Stephen Colbert ‘Late Show’ Debut: The Ticket-Haves & Customer Have-Nots Outside Theater

The faithful — and lucky — gathered early outside the Ed Sullivan Theater in anticipation of tonight’s first taping of The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. Audience hopefuls began lining up on Broadway this morning, with another 75 or so at the stage door on 53rd Street — above which erstwhile host David Letterman dropped those watermelons et al. “It’s a historic thing to be here for the first,” Rodrigo Ganzalez, a ticket holder who lives in the East Village, told Deadline. “If this show goes for 20 or 30 years, to be able to say you were at the first one — it’s historic.” He said he and a buddy scored ducats via Twitter last month and had been queued up since 11 AM.

There was a mini-ruckus when GOP White House hopeful/Colbert Night 1 guest Jeb Bush dashed from a limo van to the stage door without glancing at the crowd a little after 4 PM. CBS pres Leslie Moonves and wife Julie Chen also slipped inside about 5 PM.

Rupert Gee Hello DeliThere were no customers in the Hello Deli, but longtime proprietor Rupert Gee of Letterman Late Show fame was manning the counter. He told Deadline that CBS hasn’t been in touch about whether he’ll be part of the new show. “Everyone has been asking me about that, but I have no idea,” he said. “I think Colbert is trying to create his own brand, his own flavor. I’ve met Stephen a couple times;  seems like a really nice man. I’ve had my 22 years of fun — it would be a shame to ask for more.”

Meanwhile, for anyone worried about being able stay awake for tonight’s Big Premiere, here’s some advice from on high:

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