Born on May 13, 1964, in Washington D.C., Colbert grew up in Charleston, South Carolina. He studied acting at Northwestern University and started his career by joining the Second City comedy troupe in Chicago, Illinois. After starring on the sketch comedy show Exit 57 and the satire Strangers With Candy, Stephen became a correspondent for The Daily Show on Comedy Central (then hosted by Craig Kilborn) in 1997. Initially billed as "The New Guy", Stephen stayed with the show from 1997 to 2005, becoming the show's longest running correspondent. In 2005, he left The Daily Show to start his own mock news show The Colbert Report, which airs on Comedy Central at 11:30 Monday-Thursday, immediately after The Daily Show. Colbert replaced David Letterman as host of Late Show on CBS in 2015.
The Colbert Report is hosted by Colbert, but this person is in fact a character portrayed by the real Stephen Colbert, rather than Stephen Colbert himself. While Colbert himself is not an extremist, the character he portrays is a xenophobic, heavily right-leaning political conservative, who sees intellectuals and liberals as a threat. By portraying this character, the real Stephen Colbert is able to use satire to address current events, and the nature of news media as a whole. The Colbert character is modeled after conservative pundits such as Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity. Colbert also has stated that if it were not for O'Reilly, he would not be on the show.
In 2007, Colbert published I Am America (And So Can You) (ISBN 0446580503). The book made the New York Times bestseller list immediately after release. The character Stephen Colbert sees books as a threat, however according to the book, Stephen Colbert did not in fact write it, but yelled it into a taperecorder over a long weekend.