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This post covers how to get free tickets to the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Tickets are not guaranteed, so you need to pay particular attention to their instructions. We also have a how-to post for 12 other NYC TV show tapings, including The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.
Take a look at the Ed Sullivan Theater.
The Late Show Show tapes every weekday at NBC Studios at the Ed Sullivan Theater, apart from holidays and over summer.
Tickets are released around two months in advance, with the tickets for the following month become available at the start of the current month, and it’s a maximum of two per person.
It’s possible that you will be put on the waitlist. Waitlist guests that are granted tickets will receive their confirmation anywhere from 2 weeks before the day of the show up until the day of taping. The video below explains the waitlist procedure.
A quick word of warning – tickets to television show tapings are very difficult to impossible to re-book if you make a mistake or your dates change, so book early, but also book correctly. You are only permitted to book tickets once every 6 months, even if you cancel.
And for more money saving tips for your visit to NYC, read our post on tourist discount passes.
Tickets are not guaranteed. Each taping is overbooked, in order to have every seat occupied. So to ensure you get a seat of your own, you need to register onsite the day of the show.
Tickets are distributed starting at 2 pm and ending at 3:15 or as soon as the tickets are fully distributed. Tickets are distributed on a first-come, first served basis and the show’s staff suggests getting there at least 15 minutes early.
However, we suggest getting there much sooner, even an hour or two, if you don’t want to risk missing the show.
If you successfully register, your hand will get stamped with a red CBS logo, and you’ll get a numerical ticket. Depending on your ticket number, you’ll be told to come back between 3.30 pm and 4.30 pm, in order to stand in another line.
This is a good time to grab a bite to eat. Rupert Jee’s Hello Deli is just around the corner on 53rd Street.
Don’t worry about the size of the line. There are 400 seats, and it moves fast.
Tickets are handed out numerically on a first come-first serve basis — the sooner you get in line, the lower the number on your ticket and thus the closer you’ll be to the stage. Don’t stress if you get a higher number though, there’s really not a bad seat in the house.
If there is more than 1 ticket in the reservation, the person whose name appears on the tickets must be present for his or her guests to join the line.
EVERYONE who’s attending the show must be 16 and older and in the line with a government-issued photo ID. Don’t forget to smile!
Lining Up for Entry and Security
You will be required to pass a security check, including a metal detector, before being permitted into the theater. After passing through security, expect to stand inside on another line for at least 15 minutes before being allowed into the theater.
Backpacks, luggage, and shopping bags are NOT permitted. Smaller bags (purses) will be allowed but may be searched by our security team before entering the theater.
There are several locations near the studio where you could store prohibited bags, so do check out our post on luggage and bag storage in NYC.
If you have additional question, check out the Late Show’s FAQ page.
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert is recorded at The Ed Sullivan Theater at 1697 Broadway between West 53rd and West 54th Streets in Manhattan (map).
Also, consider taking our Midtown Manhattan Tour or our self-guided tour of Times Square, so we can point out the location of Stephen’s theater. Or find it yourself – it’s the Ed Sullivan Theater at 1697 Broadway.
One of the most beloved personalities from the David Letterman years of the Late Show is Rupert Jee, the owner of Hello Deli, which is located just around the corner from the marquee entrance to the Ed Sullivan Theater.
Stephen seemed to signal that he hasn’t forgotten about Rupert when he staged a tirade over the lack of tomato in a BLT that Stephen ordered for lunch. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that this isn’t the last time that Colbert includes Hello Deli.
You can take a look inside Hello Deli with Google Street View.