Colbert has led 205 episodes of the late-night program without an in-studio crowd, usually from his home or, in recent weeks, from a room at the Ed Sullivan Theater, which has housed the program for years. Since March 16 of last year, the host has been the anchor of what he has called “A Late Show,” a more intimate presentation of his monologues and interviews.
The return will be done in adherence to New York State’s adoption of CDC guidelines for fully vaccinated individuals and has been reviewed by the state officials. Guests will be required to show proof of being fully vaccinated prior to entering. Face masks will be optional. All staff and crew members will continue to be tested prior to commencing work on a regular basis, as well as screened daily for symptoms. In addition, a COVID-19 compliance officer will be on staff to monitor and enforce all health and safety protocols.
“Over the last 437 days, my staff and crew (and family!) have amazed me with their professionalism and creativity as we made shows for an audience we couldn’t see or hear,” said Colbert, in a prepared statement. “I look forward to once again doing shows for an audience I can smell and touch.”
“Late Show” will be the latest in a parade of weekday standbys charting a return to pre-pandemic presentation. On Saturday, NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” for the first time this season held its broadcast in front of a full, live crowd in its traditional home, Studio 8H at the network’s Rockefeller Plaza headquarters. Previously, NBC brought in smaller groups of people — often first responders –to watch the show in socially-distanced fashion. Other programs have been navigating a return as well. On HBO, Bill Maher’s “Real Time” has used smaller in-studio crowds.
Colbert’s focus on the headlines of the day has made his program in recent years the most-watched among TV’s late-night set. In recent weeks, however, NBC’s “Tonight Starring Jimmy Fallon” has made gains among the audiences most coveted by advertisers, viewers between 18 and 49. Over the past few weeks, the NBC program has led that category among viewers tuning in to watch the broadcast live.