Watch Colbert and Letterman interview the same guests

What do the new and current "Late Show" hosts have in common? More than you'd think

Published April 10, 2014 7:00PM (EDT)

David Letterman, Stephen Colbert           (AP/Greg Allen/Todd Williamson)
David Letterman, Stephen Colbert (AP/Greg Allen/Todd Williamson)

Even for the most die-hard fans of Stephen Colbert, it's hard to predict what a Colbert-manned "Late Show" will look like.  His blowhard right-wing persona, needless to say, could hardly be more different from Letterman. Out-of-character Colbert appearances have been scarce. But Letterman and Colbert do have some things in common: like Michelle Obama, Bill O'Reilly and Bill Clinton, to name a few of the bigwigs they've both had in the hot seat. For clues into the future of "The Late Show," we did a side-by-side comparison of the current and future hosts. The verdict: a Colbert-Letterman mashup might be the best "Late Show" host of all.

Michelle Obama, 2012 

Letterman to Michelle Obama: "Does your husband ever come home to you and say to you, 'Hey, did you see what Todd Aiken said?'"

Colbert to Michelle Obama: "I hope I'm not out of place in saying this: You're a very good looking lady ... Do you think your husband will be okay with me having said that?"


Bill O’Reilly, 2006 

Letterman to O'Reilly (asked if he wants America to win in Iraq): "That's not easy for me, because I’m thoughtful.”

Colbert to O'Reilly: “I don’t retain anything in books, okay, they’re just squiggly lines ... I believe that books are, well, full of facts, okay. I’m more of an opinion man."


Drew Barrymore, 2012 and 1995

Letterman to Drew Barrymore: "What was your relationship like with Steven Spielberg, who is now like, Mr. Bigshot, the biggest most powerful in the world?"

Colbert to Drew Barrymore: "Can we talk about 'E.T.' for a second? You cry in that movie. Did Spielberg make you cry? Cause if he harmed a hair on your head ... I will protect you. He is a jerk."

Bill Clinton, 2013

Letterman to Clinton: "You and I have something in common, which is we've both had the heart surgery."

Colbert to Clinton: "Sir, I took the liberty of opening you a Twitter account. Now 'PresidentClinton' was taken, WilliamJeffersonClinton' was taken, but 'PrezBillyJeff' was available."


By Prachi Gupta

Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at

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