A horde of celebrities helped to send off host Stephen Colbert on the final episode of Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report” Thursday, singing a group rendition of the song “We’ll Meet Again.”
As the song – popularized by Vera Lynn in 1939 – started playing, Colbert mentor Jon Stewart appeared, with Randy Newman on piano. Other celebrities emerged in groups, including Bryan Cranston, Willie Nelson, Sesame Street’s Big Bird … Keith Olbermann, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Cyndi Lauper … Katie Couric, Ken Burns, James Franco … Michael Stipe, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Toby Keith … Barry Manilow, Bill De Blasio, Henry Kissinger … Former U.S. President Bill Clinton was also seen in a pre-taped clip, sending his greetings to Colbert.
“We’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when/ But I know we’ll meet again some sunny day,” the group sang, closing nine years of must-watch TV.
Colbert is leaving Comedy Central to replace David Letterman as host of CBS’s “Late Show,” bringing an end to the “Stephen Colbert” character he created – the outlandish mock-conservative late-night TV host who become a pop culture phenomenon, calling on his “Nation,” as he labeled the show’s legion of followers, for deference and support.
During the show’s run, Colbert changed our vocabularies, with “truthiness” an actual word in the dictionary. He ran for president in 2008. He wrote books, including “I Am America (And So Can You!).” He started a political action committee.
Colbert reflected on the show’s impact during his popular “The Word” segment Thursday.
“When I started in 2005, I promised you a revolution,” Colbert said. “And I delivered. One revolution is 360 degrees from where we were.”
The episode's guest, "Grimmy," suggested that Colbert the character would face his demise. Instead, Colbert killed the grim reaper and became invincible, with electrical currents surging through Colbert as he gained his new powers. He nonchalantly filtered through his bucket list – who needs a bucket list if you’re immortal? “Chicken wings, popcorn shrimp, nachos … it ended up being a list of things that you can eat out of a bucket,” he said.
Following the group rendition of “We’ll Meet Again,” the camera tracked through a now-empty studio, past the desk Colbert inhabited since 2005, filtering upward to show Colbert on the rooftop, carrying a Captain America shield and draped in a United States flag, his patriotic motif on display.
Santa Claus appeared in his sleigh, alongside two friends – a vaping, unicorn-horned Abraham Lincoln and “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek. Naturally, Colbert had some questions. Where will they go? What will they do?
“All of life’s important answers must be in the form of a question,” Trebek said.
“So I guess I’ll be gone forever?” Colbert asked.
“No, Stephen. We’ll always be there for the American people, whenever they need us the most.”
“Aren’t you Canadian?”
“I’ve had dual citizenship since 1998.”
“That’s not the same.”
And then they were off: Santa, Trebek, Lincoln and Colbert, being led by eight reindeer, into the moonlight, into the mystic. Colbert ended the show, as he had for nine seasons, tossing to Stewart in the studio, a final dispatch from dimensions unknown.