Colbert, left, was originally one of "The Daily Show's" correspondents. He began with the show during its Craig Kilborn era and stayed when Jon Stewart, center, came to host in 1999. Others on the show included, from left, Ed Helms, Rob Corddry and Samantha Bee.
While appearing on "The Daily Show," Colbert was also part of the cast of "Strangers with Candy," a comedy series with Amy Sedaris and Paul Dinello. He met the pair while he was a member of the Second City comedy troupe in the early '90s.
As a "correspondent" and later an anchor, Colbert developed a character that has been, at turns, pompous, pious and egocentric -- basing the persona on many others in television.
As correspondent, Colbert was key to "The Daily Show's" election coverage. Here he takes part in Election Night 2004.
Colbert's work on "The Daily Show" contributed to a number of awards -- including several Emmys. He poses here with, left to right, Rob Corddry, host Jon Stewart, Ed Helms and Samantha Bee.
On "The Colbert Report" -- and that's pronounced "Col-bear Rap-pour" -- Colbert highlights the foibles of politicians with such segments as "Better Know a District," a proposed 435-part series in which he offers a take on every House District. The representatives he interviewed sometimes haven't been aware of the joke.
Very quickly, Colbert's influence rose so high that he got his own Ben & Jerry's ice cream flavor: AmeriCone Dream. Here he poses with Ben Cohen, left, and Jerry Greenfield at the flavor's launch party.
The White House hasn't been immune to Colbert's charms. He showed up for a mock press conference in 2007.
"The Daily Show" may have won a bunch of Emmy awards, but in 2013 "The Colbert Report" broke its streak of 10 straight awards for outstanding variety series. It's also won two Emmys for writing, as well as two Peabodys.
Colbert hosted a roast for then congressman -- and later Chicago mayor -- Rahm Emanuel in 2008. Colbert, a South Carolina native, has ties with Chicago, having gone to college at Northwestern, in nearby Evanston, and worked in the city's comedy scene.
Colbert's awards haul isn't limited to Emmys and Peabodys. In 2010 he won a Grammy for his Christmas album and four years later won another for best spoken-word album.
In October 2010 Colbert teamed up with Stewart for a Washington rally, "Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear." Stewart handled the sanity; Colbert took care of the fear. The rally was a response, sort of, to rallies led by Glenn Beck and Al Sharpton.
Colbert's character definitely loves himself. He went so far as to lick himself during the unveiling of his wax figure at the Madame Tussauds wax museum in Washington in 2012.
Colbert may be responsible for Bill Clinton being on Twitter. When the former president appeared on his show in 2013, Colbert set up an account, @PrezBillyJeff. Clinton later set up his real account, @billclinton.
Colbert, a devout Catholic, has taught Sunday school and talked about social justice. He spoke at the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights 2013 Ripple of Hope Awards dinner.
Colbert faces a changed talk-show landscape. Jimmy Fallon, left, has gotten off to a fast start as new "Tonight Show" host on NBC, and ABC's Jimmy Kimmel also has a strong fan base.