Here’s How Stephen Colbert Started And Grew His $75 Million Empire

Stephen Colbert was only ten years old when he moved to Charleston, South Carolina, where he participated in several plays during his school years. At college, Colbert began practicing improv and toured with various groups. After working on several sketch shows, he entered the realm of television when he was appointed to work on The Daily Show as a correspondent. Building on the popularity, Colbert went on to host his series before bagging the coveted role of a late-night talk show host, replacing David Letterman for The Late Show. Throughout his career, Colbert has earned several awards and accolades recognizing his live TV work. Colbert has amassed a $75 million net worth with his big paycheck.

From a time when Stephen Colbert couldn’t make ends meet with his small-time sketch shows to making it big with talk shows that have become a part of his daily life, Stephen Colbert has been entertaining audiences for years. Let’s look at how he started and grew his $75 million empire.

Pursuing Drama As Plan B


Stephen Colbert participated in various plays at school but always dreamt of becoming a marine biologist. During surgery to repair his perforated eardrum, he sustained internal ear damage causing deafness in his right ear. As scuba diving was off the table, Colbert had to pause his career as a marine biologist, as noted by Celebrity Net Worth. He studied philosophy in Virginia before transferring to a theatre major at Northwestern University to hone his acting skills.

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While studying at college, he began improvisation, performing at college and joining a team called No Fun Mud Piranhas and Chicago’s Annoyance Theater. Post his graduation, Colbert switched to telemarketing while continuing his improv lessons. Second City’s touring company hired him to perform with fellow comedians Paul Dinello and Amy Sedaris. The trio moved to New York to work on an HBO sketch comedy show, Exit 57. During the mid-90s, Colbert worked as a writer and cast member on various shows, including Saturday Night Live, Good Morning America, and The Dana Carvey Show.

From Correspondent To Host

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The producer of Good Morning America offered Stephen Colbert the job of working as a cast member on The Daily Show hosted by Craig Kilborn in 1997. Two years later, Kilborn quit the show, and Jon Stewart was hired as the host, where Colbert and Stewart began their friendship that remains iconic even today. According to Entertainment Weekly, Colbert first met Stewart at a Comedy Central conference where the new host of The Daily Show was being announced. With a correspondents team of Stephen Colbert, Steve Carell, Ed Helms, Samantha Bee, and Rob Corddry, The Daily Show With Jon Stewart was the top show in the country.

As a correspondent, Stephen Colbert had created a character for himself, a right-wing commentator who is slightly foolish. After working on The Daily Show for eight years and winning three Emmys, Colbert left to host his separate series, The Colbert Report, which he co-created with Ben Karlin and Jon Stewart. He used his same Daily Show character on the talk show, and as it aired right after Stewart’s segment, they often traded jokes at the end of episodes and made cameos. The Colbert Report aired until 2014, and Colbert won several awards, including an Emmy and a Peabody Award for important segments, as reported by Yahoo Finance.

From Host To Late Night Talk Show

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While the show had a steady beginning, Colbert’s ratings did not match the producers’ expectations from the host. While there was a conversation about looking for a new host, things picked up during the Clinton-Trump presidency battle in 2016. Colbert used humor and punchlines to deliver hard-hitting news about politics. As mentioned by Go Banking Rates, within the next three years, the show had the best ratings in late-night history, with millions of downloads of Colbert’s monologues. CBS extended his contract well into 2023 with a salary hike of $15 million, making him the second-highest paid late-night talk show host after Jimmy Fallon.

By bringing political satires into mainstream late-night talk shows, Stephen Colbert has earned a larger demographic of audiences that other hosts are still grappling to collect. With his humor and knowledge of American democracy, Colbert has come a long way from enacting a foolish correspondent to interviewing the biggest names in world politics.

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Sources: Celebrity Net Worth, Entertainment Weekly, Yahoo Finance, Go Banking Rates

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