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 to the day of. 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.
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.
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 over 18 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.
Food or drinks are not allowed in the theater.
Once you enter the theater, you are required to stay for the duration of the taping.
Show dress code is “Your Mom might see you on TV” casual. Don’t embarrass her.
The use of electronic devices (cell phones, cameras, recording devices, etc.) is strictly prohibited while in the theater and may be confiscated if in use, or you and your guests may be asked to leave. Which would be a shame.
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.
Some Fun Facts About The Late Show, Past, and Present
The show originally debuted as Late Night with David Letterman on NBC on February 1, 1982. It moved to CBS and the Ed Sullivan theater in August 1993.
The Late Show with David Letterman finished up on CBS on May 20, 2015 after 33 years and 6.028 episodes, making Letterman the longest-serving late night talk show host in American television history.
Letterman is also a television and film producer with his company, Worldwide Pants, which has produced several prime-time comedies including Everybody Loves Raymond.
The Late Show airs most places in the US at 11.35 pm, and some zones at 10.35 pm, and well after a lot of people’s bedtimes.
Johnny Carson hosted The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson from 1962 to 1992 and believed that Letterman was his natural successor. Carson even sent Letterman monologue jokes throughout the remainder of his life.
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert debuted on September 8, 2015, and also stars house band Stay Human, led by bandleader Jon Batiste.
Stephen Colbert previously hosted the satirical news show The Colbert Report which won six Emmy Awards, on Comedy Central from October 2005 to December 2014.
Stephen Colbert’s hosting desk does not feature his name and instead says “The Late Show With”.
The new set retains some touches from the old “Colbert Report” set, including Captain America’s shield.
Stephen Colbert also actively supports many charities, using his own social media to promote causes, and regularly giving away thousands of his own money.