Viewers of “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” were caught by surprise Thursday when Colbert announced bandleader Jon Batiste was leaving the talk show after seven years as its most charming staple.
“I’ve got news about our dear friend Jon Batiste,” Colbert told the audience. “Now, sharp-eyed viewers may have noticed that Jon hasn’t been here this summer. Well, I have an update. Jon has decided to leave the show.”
The announcement spurred audible groans from the studio audience, which Colbert could only relate to.
“I know,” Colbert told the crowd. “I feel the same way. But it’s for all the best reasons, including to continue sharing his art with the world. We wanted to give him a big in-person sendoff. Joe Walsh was gonna pop out of a cake. Thank you, Joe.”
While Batiste himself has yet to publicly comment on the matter and hasn’t tweeted since late July, the musical prodigy has certainly made the whole world his oyster. He was not only nominated for 11 awards at the 2022 Grammy Awards but won Album of the Year.
“I hope he’s cutting his new album,” Colbert told his audience, “and I hope it’s called, ‘More Grammys Please.’”
Colbert said “Late Show” guitarist Joe Walsh didn’t get the chance to burst from a cake because Batiste wasn’t even in town when the announcement was made. Louis Cato who served as interim bandleader during Batiste’s summer break will replace him at an unknown date, according to Billboard.
“He is a musical genius,” Colbert told his audience. “He can basically play every instrument on that stage. Give him an afternoon, he’ll learn how to play Mozart on a shoehorn.”
Batiste, who gave an invigorating performance at the Grammys and galvanized the crowd into dance, went home with five trophies earlier this year. His Album of the Year win caught viewers by surprise as he faced stiff competition against Billie Eilish, Lil Nas X, and Olivia Rodrigo.
“We have been so lucky to have a front row seat to Jon’s incredible talent for the past seven years,” Colbert told his audience. “Will we miss him here? Yeah! Yeah! But we’re happy for you Jon, and I can’t wait to have you back on as a guest — with your next hit record. I love you.”