Okay, so I've been watching The Late Show With Stephen Colbert for almost a year now, and I love every bit of it: the snarky-but-nice humor, the irreverent political satire, everything. But what's been bugging me for some time now is how the live audience see things like Cartoon Trump or the punchlines that come up on screen in segments like The Werd, or even some of the throwaway jokes.

My question is, since we know that the live audience is real, and can hear that the audience does laugh at these jokes, how do they know what's happening on screen?

1 Answer 1


Assuming these animations are prepared before the taping then the audience can see them on monitors to the sides of the stage.

enter image description here

However, it seems more likely that these are added in post-production but I can't find a definitive answer, although this comment (from the article mentioned below) seems to indicate that these may be handy already.

...and finally time for the show to officially start. Colbert hopped on stage and began with his monologue. The whole taping ran smoothly, with Colbert only having a minor flub during the first few sentences and restarting from the top. Other than that, what we saw at the Ed Sullivan theater is almost exactly what we saw on TV. The entire taping ran about an hour to an hour and a half with pauses for commercial breaks during which the band played to keep the crowd energized.

There were some things that didn’t make it to the actual show. Some of the awkward pauses during the guest interviews were cut short or small bits that didn’t land with the audience were snipped out of the episode.

There's a whole article on what it's like to be in the audience which includes a more recent picture (2015) [Ignore the big red arrow] also shows the monitors.

enter image description here

  • While stuff gets edited out during live-audience comedy shows, they don't splice stuff in, post-production, generally speaking. Aug 25, 2016 at 14:12
  • Yea, but this question is in reference to onscreen graphics which may or may not be completed when the joke is told. It's likely that they are but I don't have first hand knowledge.
    – Paulie_D
    Aug 25, 2016 at 14:18
  • 1
    I understand that. I don't know why you'd think they aren't able to "complete" them as he's telling the joke. They absolutely are displayed at the same time. You mean to tell me that you think they create some random dialogue as jokes, that the audience laughs at, then figure out what to put on the screen later? Completely implausible to the point of being impossible. I understand you aren't saying that, and I'm not refuting the bulk of your answer, I'm just saying that it's not just "more likely," it's definite, because the alternative makes no sense at all. Aug 25, 2016 at 14:23
  • One assumes that the parts referenced by the OP are pre-recorded and shown to the audience (on the monitors) for their reaction. The Trump parts could be done with a person in the chair who is then erased afterwards. Obviously they couldn't have had an actual cartoon in the studio.
    – Paulie_D
    Aug 25, 2016 at 14:24
  • Thanks. That's been bugging me for some time now. I did assume that the effects and animations are shown on some monitor for the live audience, but before I saw that photograph, I just couldn't place it. Now I know, though. Aug 26, 2016 at 0:39

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .