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How Stephen Colbert spent his summer vacation

How Stephen Colbert spent his summer vacation
Stephen Colbert takes over for David Letterman on Sept. 8. (Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Stephen Colbert bid farewell from "The Colbert Report" in December, but the soon-to-be host of "Late Show" on CBS has not exactly been resting on his laurels since then.

Since June, Colbert has been posting clips to his new show's YouTube channel, providing viewers a possible glimpse of what's to come when he takes over for David Letterman on Sept. 8.

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As Colbert prepares to field questions from reporters Monday at the Television Critics Assn. summer press tour, here's a look back at Colbert's busy summer.

1. Grooming

The comedian first came out of hibernation in early June to remind fans he still exists and to shave his "Colbeard," the impressive facial hair he'd acquired -- like certain exiled talk show hosts and failed presidential candidates before him -- while out of the limelight. "CBS is making me shave it off because Tom Selleck's mustache has a non-compete clause," he joked in a video in which he tried out several unconventional looks ("the not-Hitler") on his way from "homeless sea captain" to fresh-faced late-night host.

2. Making fun of Donald Trump

Like seemingly every other late-night personality this summer, Colbert couldn't resist the urge to make fun of reality star, real-estate tycoon and GOP frontrunner Donald Trump, who used his rambling campaign announcement to make now-infamous remarks about Mexicans.

Sporting a Trump-inspired combover, Colbert joked that the insult-spewing candidate looked "like he fell into a river and they raked his body out of the surf down in Cape May three weeks from now. But the important thing is the crabs hadn't gotten to his eyes yet. And that sends a message of confidence to voters that if you vote for him, he's not physically dead."

The spoof was an early indication that Colbert isn't going to ignore politics just because he's leaving his faux-conservative "Colbert Report" persona behind.

3. Cheering the Supreme Court's gay marriage ruling

Further evidence of Colbert's political inclinations arrived following the Supreme Court's decision in the case of Obergefell vs. Hodges

"If you're a homosexual and living in North Dakota, all your problems are solved," Colbert joked of the ruling, which effectively made same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states (even if it didn't instantly eliminate homophobia).

He also took aim at one of his favorite targets, the Supreme Court's 2010 ruling in Citizens United vs. FEC, which lifted restrictions on political contributions made by corporations.

"Wow, history moves fast," he said. "It's hard to believe that gay Americans achieved full constitutional personhood just five years after corporations did."

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He also had some harsh words for fiery Justice Antonin Scalia, who said, "I would hide my head in a bag" if he ever joined a majority opinion that began as Anthony Kennedy's did.

"I could have sworn he was already hiding his head in a flesh-toned cinch sack," Colbert said, adding, "Please come on my show, sir."

Maybe Scalia could be the first guest -- that is, if George Clooney doesn't show up.

4. Spending some time in -- where else? -- Monroe, Mich.

Easily Colbert's most surprising creative move this summer was guest-hosting "Only in Monroe," a public access show based in the small town of Monroe, Mich. (pop. 20,405).

He drank wine and trash-talked Miss USA with the show's regular hosts, Michelle Bowman and Kaye Lani Rae Rafko Wilson -- the latter of whom happened to be crowned Miss America in 1988.

But the real surprise of the show came in an interview with one of Michigan's most famous sons, Eminem. Colbert quizzed the rapper -- whom he referred to exclusively as "Marshall Mathers" -- about his musical sensibility ("Are you more political or are you more booty rhymes?), his propensity for wearing hoodies ("You've got such a cute face, why hide it under the hoodie?") and his knowledge of Bob Seger's catalog.

Eminem even pitched in by reading upcoming events from the community calendar. Beginning birding basics, anyone?

5. Saying goodbye to Jon Stewart

In between furiously preparing his new show, Colbert took the time last week to pay tribute to his friend and former Comedy Central colleague, Jon Stewart, who signed off from "The Daily Show" last week.

"You said to me and to many other people here years ago never to thank you because we owe you nothing. It is one of the few times I've known you to be dead wrong," Colbert said as Stewart, who is apparently not very good at accepting compliments, writhed around in his chair. But Colbert pressed on, calling Stewart "infuriatingly good" at his job.

"I know you are not asking for this, but on behalf of so many people whose lives you changed over the last 16 years, thank you."

Follow @MeredithBlake on Twitter.

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