Stephen Colbert, South Carolina’s native son, now will be one of the most powerful figures in late night television.
The announcement Thursday that Colbert, who grew up in Charleston and still has family there, will take over David Letterman’s job on “The Late Show” should give a Colbert Bump to the state of South Carolina, a “friend of the show” in more ways than one. To celebrate, we’re giving you a little history of the comedian’s rise on television and his tips of the hat to the state.
1995: Colbert debuts on Comedy Central in a sketch show called “Exit 57.”
1998: Colbert stars with fellow Second City alum Amy Sedaris in “Strangers with Candy” as history teacher Chuck Noblet.
1997: Colbert joins “The Daily Show” as a correspondent while Craig Kilborn hosts. It is under Jon Stewart’s tutelage, which began in 1999, that Colbert develops his persona as a know-it-all who knows nothing.
2002: Colbert’s “Daily Show” report on the flap over the Confederate flag flying at the S.C. State House shows South Carolinians how much he knows about his home state, including which barbecue sauce is best.
October 2005: Comedy Central launches “The Colbert Report.” In a news release, CBS says the host “will contain the personality, insight and overall rightness of Stephen Colbert. That’s why he now has a half-hour platform each night to give his take on the issues of the day and, more importantly, to tell you why everyone else’s take is just plain wrong.” It’s here that we meet the character “Stephen Colbert,” a send-up of such conservative political commentators as Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly.
April 2006: Colbert is the main speaker at the White House Correspondents Dinner. He skewers then-President George W. Bush and the media.
September 2006: On his show, Colbert takes a shot at Georgia for calling itself the Peach State, saying it is a “fraud perpetrated by Georgia,” much to the delight of South Carolina peach farmers.
November 2006: Charleston’s Sticky Fingers restaurant wins an auction to buy a “portrait within a portrait” of Colbert that was displayed on the set of his show. You can still see the portrait at the restaurant on King Street.
October 2007: Colbert announces that he is running for president in both the Republican and Democratic primaries in South Carolina in February 2008. He makes an appearance Oct. 28 in Columbia on the USC campus to make his announcement. Columbia Mayor Bob Coble gives him a key to the city.
Nov. 1, 2007: The South Carolina Democratic Party rejects Colbert’s petition for candidacy.
May 2008: Colbert’s mother, Lorna, appears with the mothers of other famous S.C. figures to talk about raising the comedian, whom she calls rambunctious.
June 2009: Colbert takes his show to Baghdad, where he entertains troops and gets a buzz cut from Gen. Ray Odierno. To prepare for the gig, Colbert filmed segments at Fort Jackson.
July 2009: Emails released by then-Gov. Mark Sanford’s office reveal that Colbert requested an interview, saying that Sanford’s recent revelation that he was having an extramarital affair were overblown by the media.
Fall 2011: Colbert forms a Super PAC, to illustrate the complexities (and the loopholes) available to corporations who want to funnel money to candidates.
December 2011: Colbert writes a letter to the editor of The State, explaining his efforts to buy naming rights to the S.C. GOP primary. “I can cover that. No strings attached,” he reportedly told GOP officials, who were looking for ways to fund the primary. Party officials dispute the account.
December 2012: Colbert tries to get Gov. Nikki Haley to appoint him to the U.S. Senate after Jim DeMint resigns, urging his followers to use the Twitter hashtag #SenatorColbert.
November 2013: Colbert’s sister, Elizabeth Colbert Busch, loses a special election in Congress to Mark Sanford. Stephen endorsed his sister on a “Colbert Show” segment, hoping she would get the Colbert Bump.