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12 Highlights That Prove Stephen Colbert Is Ready for The Late Show

Look back at some of the comedian's greatest hits before his new talk show debuts

Adam Bryant

On Tuesday, Stephen Colbert returns to the late-night landscape as he takes over The Late Show from iconic stalwart David Letterman.

Sure, a lot of hay has been made about how the comedian will handle the hosting duties after leaving behind the conservative pundit character he played for nine years on The Colbert Report. But if his career has proven anything, it's that Colbert is a performer capable of almost anything. Below are some of the greatest hits during the funnyman's career, all of which have us super excited to see what The Late Show with Stephen Colbertwill become.

8 Ways Stephen Colbert Will Make The Late Show His Own

1. Chuck Noblet, Strangers with Candy
Colbert studied acting at Northwestern and quickly gravitated tot improv after meeting with Second City director Del Close. He joined the troupe, and performed alongside Steve Carrell, Paul Dinello and Amy Sedaris, the latter two with whom he later developed the cult Comedy Central sketch series Strangers with Candy. Arguably his most famous character from the show, which ran for three seasons in 1999 and 2000, was the bitter, closeted gay history teacher Chuck Noblett, who is in a secret relationship with art teacher Geoffrey Jellineck. Here's hoping the Late Show's format will allow Colbert to do some sketch work.

2. The Daily Show
Although Colbert was actually a Daily Show correspondent on the Craig Kilborn-hosted version of the show before Strangers with Candy, he received much wider acclaim as one of Jon Stewart's correspondents. He had regular segments, including "This Week in God" and "Even Stevphen" with Steve Carell. Below is one of his most memorable segments, during which he and Stewart end up laughing hysterically thanks to Colbert's treatment of a banana. Classic.

3. The Colbert Report
In 2005, Colbert left The Daily Show to host his own spin-off The Colbert Report. On his very first show, during what became one of his classic segments, "The Word," Colbert coined the word "truthiness" while poking fun at President George W. Bush. Truthiness was eventually named word of the year by Merriam-Webster in 2006. Can we say relevance?

4. The White House Correspondents' Dinner
Just as his show was getting off the ground, Colbert was invited to speak at the 2006 White House Correspondents' Dinner. He bravely eviscerated President George W. Bush as well as the media in the room, delivering his remarks with impeccable confidence and timing. While many after the fact said Colbert went too far, we appreciate a performer who has the conviction to really go for broke.

5. Guitarmageddon
Colbert wasted little time creating beef on his new show. After a protracted fake feud with indie rockers The Decemberists, The Colbert Report dedicated an entire episode -- The Decemberists vs. Stephen Colbert Rock & Awe: Countdown to Guitarmageddon -- to resolving the war of words. The episode featured a number of guests, including then-governor-elect Eliot Spitzer as a judge and Henry Kissinger as emcee, who watched Colbert thanks to a little help from Peter Frampton. Colbert clearly knows how to "eventize" TV, something that could bode well for his new show.

6. Suq Madiq
Colbert didn't make a habit of breaking character, but when he did it was glorious. A prime example: when Colbert thanks Super PAC donor "Suq Madiq" and absolutely loses it when he has to read the donor's mother's maiden name. We guess he won't have a character to break on his new show, but here's hoping we see the host get tickled like this from time to time.

7. Celebrity Interviews
Colbert will obviously have to do a lot more of this on his new show, but he's shown himself to be a skilled interviewer. Unfortunately, not every interview goes as planned, but Colbert has proven he can roll with the punches, no more so than in this awkward exchange with actress Diane Keaton, who claimed Colbert was a pervert. The fact that he still got laughs out of this segment makes us pretty sure he can handle anything.

8. Versatility
Although Colbert is a master at getting laughs, he could get serious when need be. In June 2013, Colbert bravely held back tears as he paid tribute to his recently deceased mother Lorna. Like Letterman did after 9/11, the best hosts are those who find a way to smile through tragedy.

9. #CancelColbert
Every celebrity has to occasionally deal with scandal. After an out-of-context tweet from the show's Twitter account offended some viewers, the hashtag #cancelColbert gained steam. A true pro, Colbert took the opportunity to both apologize for the tweet while also poking fun at the Internet outrage that almost "swallowed me up." He even defended Suey Park, the woman who started the hashtag. Class act.

10. Unpredictability
Perhaps tired of waiting for The Late Show to debut, Colbert took over a Michigan public access channel earlier this year for 40 minutes. The highlight of the evening was an interview with Eminem, with topics of conversation ranging from road construction to Bob Seger to sewage. We're not sure how this all came about, but we can't say that we care. More please!

11. He's a nice guy
Colbert may be hosting one of late-night TV's grandest institutions, but he hasn't forgotten where he came from. During Jon Stewart's Daily Show farewell, Colbert returned to the show to thank Stewart on behalf of the entire cast and crew. He spoke from the heart, while Stewart literally squirmed before before being brought to tears.

12. He's got jokes ready to go
Appearing at the Television Critics Association fall previews, Colbert said he couldn't wait for his show to debut, mostly so he could make fun of Donald Trump. Then, in true Colbert form, he invented another phrase. "I'm just hoping that certain people stay in the race until Sept. 8. I'm not going to name any names, but let's just say I want to do jokes on Donald Trump so badly and I have no venue. So right now I'm just 'dry-Trumping.'" He even tweeted the brilliant turn of phrase immediately on stage during the middle of the press conference.

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert premieres Tuesday at 11:30/10:30c on CBS. Will you watch?

(Full disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by CBS.)