Stephen Colbert Makes 'Late Show' Debut

A new era of The Late Show kicked off on Tuesday night when Stephen Colbert officially took over the reins from David Letterman as the host to the CBS show.

The show dominated late night.  Easily beating rivals Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel -- 6.6 million people tuned in to watch Colbert’s debut. While Fallon's audience was 2.9 million and Kimmel’s viewership was 1.75 million.

"As long as I have nine months to get ready for each one hour show we'll be okay,” the new host joked since the last time he was last on TV was in December.

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For the first time fans saw the real Colbert not that conservative character he used to play on Comedy Central’s Colbert Report.

During his opening monologue, he even cracked about his old character: ”I'm looking for the real Stephen Colbert. Hope I won't find him on Ashley Madison."

Colbert began the show with a tribute to the man who launched late night: "I’d be nothing if wasn't for the legend who graced this stage before me - Biff Henderson."

Henderson was David Letterman’s long time stage manager. The new host played it for laughs but then got serious when he said: “But in a larger sense perhaps I should be thanking his boss - David Letterman.”

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Colbert showed off the spiffy, newly decorated Ed Sullivan Theater. The new set features a digital projection on the ceiling, reminiscent of the Sistine Chapel, but including Colbert’s image.

He even brought along special props to fill the set like his Captain America shield which was a prominent staple on the Colbert Report set. As well as his late mother’s pennant from Martin Luther King’s historic 1963 March on Washington.

The set also featured a series of screens around his desk where he video conferenced his friend and now late-night rival Jimmy Fallon.

Colbert wouldn't be Colbert without politics - and his first show was no exception.

The savvy satirist ridiculed the media’s obsession with Donald Trump by comparing it to stopping yourself from eating a bag of Oreo cookies - a difficult thing to do.

Colbert also welcomed Florida Governor and current GOP candidate Jeb Bush as one of his first guests.

He joked with the Republican and said: "You are with one exception aside, the front runner.”

Colbert snagged George Clooney as his very first guest and managed to get in cameos from his friends like Jon Stewart, Mavis Staples, Ben Folds, Buddy Guy and others.

As for the reviews? The New York Post says “Colbert shines.” Variety calls him "mostly terrific.”

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