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Stephen Colbert took a few seconds during the Thursday-night edition of his “Colbert Report” to pay tribute to David Letterman – but did not break character talk about his own feelings about being the latenight veteran’s successor.

“I know we’ve got a big show to do tonight, but one thing before we get started. There was some big news last week that slipped through my news crack, and it concerns someone I’ve admired for years, and yet surprisingly is not me,” Colbert said during a taping earlier Thursday, according to a transcript provided by Comedy Central. “I’m talking about David Letterman, who last Thursday night announced his retirement. And I am going to miss this good man.”

Colbert plays a caricature on the show: a blowhard right-wing talk-show host. And while the comedian has been named to succeed Letterman at CBS in 2015, the character has not. As such, Colbert never mentions that he will leave the show he now leads to move to CBS next year, according to the transcript.

“I learned more from watching Dave than I did from going to my classes,” said Colbert, later adding: “This man has influenced every host who came after him, and even a few who came before him. He’s that good.”

He said of Letterman: “Folks, folks. Those are some huge shoes to fill, and some really big pants.”

One wonders how Colbert the character will inform his “Colbert Nation” of followers that he’s soon to leave them behind.

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