Stephen Colbert says he'd trade his ratings “for a better president”

Mary Kouw/CBS(NEW YORK) — Donald Trump’s election may be the best thing that ever happened to Stephen Colbert’s career —  ratings for The Late Show have soared as the political comic pummels Trump nightly. But Colbert tells The Hollywood Reporter he’d gladly have it the other way around.

“I would trade good ratings for a better president. How about that?” Colbert tells the magazine.

When asked if he owes Trump a thank-you note, he says, “The thank-you note is to my staff for being ready — that’s the thank-you note. Because if it’s not Donald Trump, it’s something else. There will be something else that we care about, hopefully happy, possibly tragic. But we’re ready to talk about what just happened, whenever it happens now. And that’s what we’ve learned.”

Colbert covers the magazine’s annual New York issue.

In the interview Colbert also discusses his relationship with his Late Show predecessor, David Letterman. “I’ve seen him at parties; we’ve had cordial conversations. It’s perfectly casual and lovely,” Colbert says. 

He did send Letterman a Christmas gift last year — a framed piece of the Ed Sullivan Theater stage where Letterman stood to deliver his monologue nightly for more than two decades.

“As we were renovating the theater, I said, ‘Can you please have this taken up and have it cleaned and framed?’ It was just a blue square of floor material with a red dot painted on it. It was in the corner of my office for over a year. It looked like art,” Colbert says.

“And I said, ‘Why aren’t I hanging that up? Oh, I know why. It’s not mine. It’s Dave’s.’ So I mailed it to him and said, ‘Nobody who visits my office can figure out what this is. I hope you do,'” says Colbert.

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