Stephen Colbert says goodbye to Stephen Colbert

Stephen, we hardly knew ye.

(CNN) – Comedy Central’s “Colbert Report” ended its 9-year run Thursday night.

In the past 1,442 episodes, he’s interviewed presidents and celebrities alike, had a NASA treadmill named after him, and hosted a rally on the national mall.

In all truthiness, it was undeniably the best television finale I have ever been on, if barely. After a celebrated 9 year run, Stephen Colbert – the character, not the comedian – bid a fond farewell to the Colbert Nation last night. He said, “If this is your first time tuning in, I have some terrible news.”

He’s been a satirical newsman since 1997. He was first a correspondent on The Daily Show two years before Jon Stewart came on board. Now, after nine years, Stephen Colbert ended his run as Stephen Colbert the satirical newsman.

Stars from the silver screen, politics, pop culture, media, science, music, the military, Muppetry, and the 4pm hour of CNN joined in one voice to sing him farewell. Even Henry Kissinger awkwardly swayed as Big Bird carried the tune.

Colbert took the helm of the Report in 2005.

Jake Tapper, CNN: “It’s the WH Correspondents dinner in 2005 before you got the show.”
Stephen Colbert: It’s you, me, Tom Brady, and the guy from Gray’s Anatomy.
Tapper: You get up at some point during the meal.
Colbert: I said excuse me.
Tapper: You’re very polite. You get up, about 45 minutes later you came back, and said ‘I just made a deal to have my own show’.
Colbert: I told you what it was, and you said it was a terrible idea.
Tapper: I loved you as a correspondent.
Colbert: You kind of poured cold water all over it.
Tapper: I was worried about it.
Colbert: You were.
Tapper: I was worried thinking-
Colbert: It was like HEY! What?! Why aren’t you happy for me?
Tapper: I was very happy for you. I was worried. I didn’t know if you could do the character for a half hour.
Colbert: I didn’t either. I knew I could do if for a half hour. I’m not sure I could do it a half an hour more than once. I thought by the second night people might go, “That guys a complete a-hole, why would I watch him?”

I have never been more delighted to have been so staggeringly wrong. Colbert told me, “Your instincts are terrible. Not your journalistic instincts, your show business instincts.”

What a wild ride it has been. From hosting the White House Correspondents’ dinner and roasting President Bush, to hosting his show in a war zone. And of course all of this:

Colbert: “The Truthiness is all those incredible things I did. Running for president, saving the Olympics, Colbert Super-Pac, treadmill in space, the rally to restore sanity and or fear, I didn’t do any of that. You the nation did that. I just got paid for it.”

Colbert is moving up the street in Manhattan to CBS and the famed Ed Sullivan Theater, where he’ll succeed David Letterman as the host of The Late Show. He’ll retire the faux punditry of Stephen Colbert and just be Stephen Colbert.

Stephen, we hardly knew ye. Here’s to getting to know Stephen all over again.

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