How to Get Tickets to The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

This post covers how to get free tickets to the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. It’s easier than you might think.  Tickets are not guaranteed, so you need to pay particular attention to their instructions.  The early bird gets the worm, so be prepared to show up well before the start time, especially if you would like a seat near the stage.  TIP: Be sure to check out how to get tickets to the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon as well as other live tapings of shows in New York City. And for more money saving tips for your visit to NYC, read our post on tourist discount passes.

Registration + Security

Rupert’s Deli

Things to Do in NYC

How to Get Tickets

How to Get to Ed Sullivan Theater

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Take a look inside the Ed Sullivan Theater


After 33 years and 6,028 episodes, David Letterman retired in May 2015, and new host Stephen Colbert took over from September 2015, and hes already proving to be a riotously popular host.

To ensure you get a seat, a good rule is to check for tickets to any of the television shows you wish to see the moment your trip is confirmed. The tickets are usually released in batches months in advance, so start checking early and then check back often.

Read on to learn all about The Late Show with Stephen Colbertor see our post New York TV Show Tickets to discover how to obtain tickets to the other live taping of shows in New York City such as The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Late Night with Seth Myers or the Daily Show with Trevor Noah.

Also, consider taking our Midtown Manhattan Tour or our self-guided tour of Times Square, so we can point out the location of Stephens theater. Or find it yourself – its the Ed Sullivan Theater at 1697 Broadway. 

How to Get Tickets for The Late Show

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 its 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.  Click here to register for tickets.


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Registration + Security

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.How to get tickets to the late show with stephen colbert

  • 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.  This is a good time to grab a bite to eat.  Rupert Jee’s Hello Deli is just around the corner on 53rd Street.
  • Dont 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 youll be to the stage. Dont stress if you get a higher number though, theres 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 whos attending the show must be over 18 and in the line with a government-issued photo ID. Dont 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.  A staff member from the show will remind you of the rules of the theater before you enter.
  • 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.  You could 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 show taping goes from around 5.30 pm to 7 pm.


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Where is the Ed Sullivan Theater

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. Entry is through the big and impressive front doors of the 13-story brick building which first opened in 1927.  The theater was converted into a television studio in 1950, and in 1953 became the home of The Ed Sullivan Show for the duration of its 23-year run. In the 70s and 80s, it housed gameshows and sitcoms, until David Letterman started using it for The Late Show in 1993.  Among the hundreds of notable performances over the decades, one that sticks in many peoples memories is July 15, 2009, when Sir Paul McCartney returned to play the roof of the theater, more than 45 years after The Beatles played the Ed Sullivan Show on February 9th, 1964.


Where is the Late Show with Stephen Colbert


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Rupert Jee’s Hello Deli

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.


Hello Deli Rupert Jee

You can take a look inside Hello Deli with Google Street View.

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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.