Colbert was named one of Time's 100 most influential people in 2006 and 2012. Learn 50 facts from life and career of Stephen Colbert.
1. He is a comedian, writer, producer, actor, media critic, and television host.
2. He hosts the late-night television talk show The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.
3. His full name is Stephen Tyrone Colbert.
4. Colbert had originally studied to be an actor.
5. Became interested in improvisational theatre when he met Second City director Del Close while attending Northwestern University.
6. He first performed professionally as an understudy for Steve Carell at Second City Chicago.
7. Among his troupe mates were comedians Paul Dinello and Amy Sedaris, with whom he developed the sketch comedy series Exit 57.
8. Colbert also wrote and performed on the short-lived Dana Carvey Show before collaborating with Sedaris and Dinello again on the cult television series Strangers with Candy.
9. He gained considerable attention for his role on the latter as closeted gay history teacher Chuck Noblet.
10. His work as a correspondent on Comedy Central's news-parody series The Daily Show first introduced him to a wide audience.
11. In 2005, he left The Daily Show to host a spin-off series, The Colbert Report.
12. Following The Daily Show's news-parody concept, The Colbert Report was a parody of personality-driven political opinion shows such as The O'Reilly Factor, in which Colbert portrayed a caricatured version of conservative political pundits.
13. Colbert has won nine Primetime Emmy Awards, two Grammy Awards, and two Peabody Awards.
14. Colbert succeeded David Letterman as the host of The Late Show on CBS, beginning his tenure on September 8, 2015.
15. Colbert was named one of Time's 100 most influential people in 2006 and 2012.
16. His book, I Am America (And So Can You!), was number one on The New York Times Best Seller list.
17. Colbert was born in Washington, D.C..
18. Is the youngest of 11 children.
19. Was born in a Catholic family.
20. He grew up on James Island in Charleston, South Carolina.
21. Colbert and his siblings, in order from oldest to youngest, are James, Edward, Mary, William, Margo, Thomas, Jay, Elizabeth, Paul, Peter, and Stephen.
22. His father, James William Colbert, Jr., was a doctor and medical school dean at Yale University, Saint Louis University, and finally at the Medical University of South Carolina where he served as vice president for academic affairs.
23. Stephen's mother, Lorna Elizabeth Colbert, was a homemaker.
24. In interviews, Colbert has described his parents as devout people who also strongly valued intellectualism and taught their children that it was possible to question the church and still be Catholic.
25. The emphasis his family placed on intelligence and his observation of negative stereotypes of Southerners led Colbert to train himself to suppress his Southern accent while he was still quite young.
26. As a child, he observed that Southerners were often depicted as being less intelligent than other characters on scripted television; to avoid that stereotype, he taught himself to imitate the speech of American news anchors.
27. While Colbert sometimes comedically claims his surname is French, he is of 15/16ths Irish ancestry.
28. Many of his ancestors emigrated from Ireland to North America in the 19th century before and during the Great Famine.
29. He developed a love of science fiction and fantasy novels.
30. He is an avid fan of J. R. R. Tolkien's works.
31. During his adolescence, he also developed an intense interest in fantasy role-playing games, especially Dungeons & Dragons, a pastime which he later characterized as an early experience in acting and improvisation.
32. Colbert attended Charleston's Episcopal Porter-Gaud School, where he participated in several school plays and contributed to the school newspaper but was not highly motivated academically.
33. During his adolescence, he briefly fronted a Rolling Stones cover band called A Shot in the Dark.
34. When he was younger, he had hoped to study marine biology, but surgery intended to repair a severely perforated eardrum caused him inner ear damage. The damage was severe enough that he was unable to pursue a career that would involve scuba diving. The damage also left him deaf in his right ear.
35. For a while, he was uncertain whether he would attend college, but ultimately he applied and was accepted to Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, where a friend had also enrolled.
36. While in college, he continued to participate in plays while studying mainly philosophy.
37. After two years, he transferred to Northwestern University as a theater major to study performance, emboldened by the realization that he loved performing, even when no one was coming to shows. He graduated from Northwestern's School of Communication in 1986.
38. While at Northwestern, Colbert studied with the intent of becoming a dramatic actor; mostly he performed in experimental plays and was uninterested in comedy.
39. He began performing improvisation while in college, both in the campus improv team No Fun Mud Piranhas and at the Annoyance Theatre in Chicago as a part of Del Close's ImprovOlympic at a time when the project was focused on competitive, long-form improvisation, rather than improvisational comedy. "I wasn't gonna do Second City", Colbert later recalled, "because those Annoyance people looked down on Second City because they thought it wasn't pure improv - there was a slightly snobby, mystical quality to the Annoyance people".
40. After Colbert graduated in 1986, however, he was in need of a job. A friend who was employed at Second City's box office offered him work answering phones and selling souvenirs. Colbert accepted and discovered that Second City employees were entitled to take classes at their training center for free. Despite his earlier aversion to the comedy group, he signed up for improvisation classes and enjoyed the experience greatly.
41. Was hired to perform with Second City's touring company, initially as an understudy for Steve Carell. It was there he met Amy Sedaris and Paul Dinello, with whom he often collaborated later in his career.
42. The three comedians did not get along at first - Dinello thought Colbert was uptight, pretentious and cold, while Colbert thought of Dinello as "an illiterate thug" - but the trio became close friends while touring together, discovering that they shared a similar comic sensibility.
43. Colbert worked for six months as a cast member and writer on The Dana Carvey Show, alongside former Second City castmate Steve Carell, and also Robert Smigel, Charlie Kaufman, Louis C.K., and Dino Stamatopoulos, among others.
44. Worked briefly as a freelance writer for Saturday Night Live with Robert Smigel.
45. Colbert is co-author of the satirical text-and-picture novel Wigfield: The Can Do Town That Just May Not, which was published in 2003 by Hyperion Books.
46. Colbert is married to Evelyn McGee-Colbert.
47. His wife appeared with him in an episode of Strangers with Candy as his mother.
48. His wife is the daughter of prominent Charleston civil litigator Joseph McGee, of the firm Buist Moore Smythe McGee. The couple has three children: Madeleine, Peter, and John.
49. Colbert preferred that his children not watch his show The Colbert Report, saying that "kids can't understand irony or sarcasm, and I don't want them to perceive me as insincere."
50. In 2000, Colbert and the other Daily Show writers were the recipients of three Emmy Awards as writers for The Daily Show and again in 2005 and 2006.