How will the once and future king of "Late Show," Stephen Colbert, appear -- or talk, sound, behave -- when he arrives at this exalted place, on this exalted stage at the Ed Sullivan Theater, sometime in 2015? We all got the briefest hint last night when Colbert appeared on "Late Show with David Letterman" as . . . himself.
And Himself doesn't look a whole lot different from his Alter Ego Self: Same voice, same tie, same wicked-fast wit. No fire-breathing, Bill O'Reilly-channeling, Right-wing-bashing cardboard cutout "character" -- which never entirely existed in the first place anyway.
Just a funny, talented guy who is about to replace another funny, talented guy.
CBS late Tuesday sent out a very brief clip of the first encounter between incumbent and replacement since the Colbert announcement two weeks ago. It arrived hours before showtime (which is hours past deadline) but those ninety seconds offered a flavor of what to expect.
"I'm going to do whatever you have done," he told Letterman. "It seems to have gone pretty well . . . "
Letterman responded: "Paul and I have been doing this for a long, long time. They easily could have hired another boob like me . . . "
Colbert: "They hired a boob like me . . . "
A small distraction prior to -- and after -- Colbert's selection as Letterman's replacement revolved around his ability to shed "character" when he becomes host next year (no date yet, and no venue either -- but bet on New York and the Sullivan). What many seemed to forget -- or overlook -- was that the Real Stephen Colbert will do just fine. Last night may have buried that distraction once and for all.