The Late Show host opened up about making his late-night show without an audience during the pandemic, telling Variety that filming at first at his vacation home and The Late Show office building has been a journey. He said that making each Late Show during the pandemic required 20% more material to make up for the lack of audience laughter. “I’m glad to have relaxed into that vulnerable feeling because it makes you less nervous in general about being a public figure, let alone a public performer,” says Colbert. “It’s like you’re saying, ‘Well, this is really what I’m like, and I hope that’s OK with you.’ And to find out that was OK was another level of becoming myself, of which this entire show has been a journey to.” Colbert and his wife Evie expressed gratitude to the staff by covering The Late Show's payroll during much of the COVID downtime. “We wanted everyone to know that we cared about them and that we were going to help people in this scary time,” Evie says. “It was a wonderful way to say to people, ‘You’re going to be OK.'" Upon returning to the Ed Sullivan Theater last month, “I had to adjust my rhythms as a performer. I didn’t realize fully how much I had adjusted my rhythms until I came back here and had an audience again,” says Colbert. He adds: “Coming back to the live audience lets us say, ‘Oh, this is great!’ But I don’t want to just be satisfied that we do the old form of The Late Show. We’ve got to keep evolving. And I don’t know what that is other than I know you always have to wear that idea on your nose in a little music stand with a little piece of sheet music that says ‘Evolve’ on it.” ALSO: Read Variety's oral history of Colbert's pandemic shows and Colbert explains how to be a great talk show host.