Following the news that he would be taking over "The Late Show" from David Letterman, Stephen Colbert took a moment on his show Thursday to pay tribute to his predecessor.
He also addressed, albeit indirectly, his own promotion to one of the most coveted spots in late-night TV.
After an especially hearty opening round of applause, Colbert began, "There was some big news last week that slipped through my news crack. It concerns someone I've admired for years and yet surprisingly is not me."
It was, of course, Letterman. "I am going to miss this good man. Dave has been on the air my entire adult life," Colbert said. "I learned more from watching Dave than I did from going to my classes."
Colbert continued, noting that Letterman had influenced every host who followed him -- and even a few who preceded him. "He's just that good."
And here's where Colbert, in rather coy fashion, finally addressed his new gig. "I gotta tell you, I do not envy whoever they try to put in that chair. Those are some huge shoes to fill.”
Colbert's lead-in, Jon Stewart, had more to say about the development, opening "The Daily Show" by playing a vintage clip of the then-correspondent memorably breaking character while eating a banana. "The exciting news today is, I no longer need a cable subscription for the privilege of watching Stephen Colbert," he joked.
Calling Letterman "the best there ever was," Stewart added, "I think Stephen Colbert is up for the challenge."
Letterman himself has yet to speak about his successor -- Thursday's episode of "The Late Show" was a repeat.