On last night’s final Colbert Report ever, Stephen Colbert, the person, bid adieu to “Stephen Colbert,” the character, as he flew away with Santa Claus, a unicorned Abraham Lincoln, and Alex Trebek into the sunset. It was the bittersweet end to perhaps the greatest piece of sustained performance art of all time—unless Rush Limbaugh one day reveals that he’s been a deeply embedded character all along, and even then it wouldn’t be close. Of course, Colbert couldn’t keep it together all the time, and to celebrate his show’s finale, Comedy Central has compiled a supercut of every time the host broke character.
Over the course of 13 minutes, “Stephen Cracks Up” skips around eras to reveal all the moments Colbert revealed himself to be a person who actually gets the jokes he’s making by busting out into full laughs at them. Sometimes he’s at his desk, and sometimes he’s mid-interview; sometimes he addresses the audience directly, and other times he just keeps going. Come for the knowing joy on his face while he succumbs to the giggles, stay for the jokes that caused him to do so. Never forget that this man did this show, and took the character to the White House Correspondents’ Association and beyond, for nine amazing years.