How to Get Free Tickets to 'The Late Show With Stephen Colbert'

The process starts online, and even tickets don't guarantee admission

Stephen Colbert
Talk show host Stephen Colbert. Getty Images/Frederick M. Brown

Headed to New York and want to catch Stephen Colbert's talk show? The good news is tickets to "The Late Show With Stephen Colbert" are free. The bad news? They can be a little tricky to get. But if you really want to be in his studio audience, here's what you do:

Start Online

Ready to order your "Late Show" tickets?

  • Visit the official "Late Show With Stephen Colbert" ticket home page to start. Scroll down to the calendar with highlighted show taping dates. Check the date you're hoping for and see if it is "Sold Out' or "Open."
  • If the date is open, cllck on it and then on "Join Waitlist." There you will request tickets and register—you can log in using Twitter, Google, or Facebook if you like. Be prepared to enter personal information including your name, address, age, and more. You can reserve up to two tickets, and individuals can only attend once every six months.
  • Arrive at the Ed Sullivan Theater, 1697 Broadway, at 2 p.m. the day of the taping to pick up your tickets. Note that tickets are provided on a first-come, first-served basis. Earlier tickets get you closer to the stage, though there reportedly are no bad seats in the Ed Sullivan Theater.
  • All Colbert's shows are overbooked, so even if you have tickets, you aren't guaranteed entry. First-time ticket holders might be surprised if they arrive expecting easy entry and are denied.
  • The person who registered for tickets must be the one to pick them up.
  • When you get your tickets, "Late Show" staff members will let you know when to return to the theater for the taping. Typically, the line grows long at that time but moves quickly into the theater.
  • The registered ticket holder must be present for admittance into the theater. Tickets are nontransferable, so if you reserved the ticket, you can’t pass it on to someone else if you can’t attend.

'Late Show' Ticket Tips

Whether you got free "Late Show" tickets or it just wasn't your time, here are a few additional tips:

  • Tickets typically become available at the beginning of a month through the following month. Tickets are offered in two-month chunks.
  • If you didn't get tickets, you can try going standby. Standby tickets are issued one hour before showtime, depending on availability. On the day of the taping, go to the Ed Sullivan Theater by 4 p.m. It’s a long shot, but it’s something to consider.
  • You typically are allowed to request and receive tickets only once every six months. If you get tickets and can’t attend, you'll have to wait six months to begin the process again.
  • Don’t take your cell phone, smartphone, or camera. If you do, keep it in your pocket. Any electronic device in use may be confiscated, or you might be asked to leave the theater.
  • Leave your backpack at home. Same goes for luggage if you were thinking of coming straight from the airport.
  • The dress code for "The Late Show" is Broadway casual—you might be seen on TV!
  • You can't bring food or drink into the theater, so finish whatever you bought at Rupert Jee’s Hello Deli before you get into the theater.
  • Small bags, such as purses, are allowed but are subject to search.
  • You'll be asked to remain in the theater until show taping ends. Tapings typically run from 5:30 to 7 p.m.
  • If you or someone in your party needs accessible seating, assisted listening devices, or sign language services, contact the show as soon as your ticket is confirmed.
  • Everyone in your party must be 16 years or older and have a government-issued ID to prove it. Otherwise, you will not be admitted into the theater.