Stephen Colbert Honors Longtime Stage Manager

It’s always refreshing to see the face of a late-night show turn the spotlight onto the staff and crew that help make it all happen, and Stephen Colbert did just that at a recent taping.

In a new behind the scenes clip from his pre-show audience Q&A, Colbert highlights a longtime crew member, stage manager Mark McKenna.

“We’ve known each other for 18 years,” Colbert says as he asks McKenna to join him on stage. “He’s such a gift to me. He’s showfolk, too. And so he understands the weird life that we live, and he can know what’s going on with me without me saying a word. He can read my mind.”

McKenna worked with Colbert on Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report before following him to The Late Show with Stephen Colbert when it launched on CBS in 2015. He also serves as stage manager on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.

McKenna’s official role on the show is to facilitate communications between the show’s control room and Colbert. He’s the one who will count Colbert down when the show comes back from a commercial, and tell him which camera to look at. 

Unofficially, he’s long served as a morale booster for the host as he stands beside the camera during the monologue and wherever Colbert can see him the rest of the show.  Colbert is said to feed off McKenna’s  infectious enthusiasm and his laugh—which, once you know it, can occasionally be recognized on-air.

“He is one of the things that makes this show—and the last show we did—such a joy for me,” Colbert told his audience. “That is my relationship with him: one of gratitude and learning.”

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