series finales

An Annotated List of Every Single Person Who Sang in the Colbert Finale

Last night’s finale of The Colbert Report brought in dozens of celebrities and former guests to bid farewell to “Stephen Colbert” through song. But who were they? A who’s who of who sang good-bye.

That’s Randy Newman on piano, but if you don’t recognize Colbert or Jon Stewart, this probably isn’t the slideshow for you.
That’s Willie Nelson, Bryan Cranston, NIH director Francis Collins, and author Doris Kearns Goodwin. Goodwin has been on the show several times, and the credits for last night’s episode included “Apologies to Doris Kearns Goodwin.”
Tom Brokaw, Mandy Patinkin, Lil Buck, Yo-Yo Ma, and Neil DeGrasse Tyson.
Sam Waterston, Jeff Daniels, Cyndi Lauper, Big Bird, former FEC head Trevor Potter, and Keith Olbermann.
Andrew Sullivan, ballet dancer David Hallberg, Katie Couric, Ken Burns, and Ric Ocasek. According to Keith Olbermann, Couric helped everyone rehearse. Gloria Steinem was also in this group, sort of, because she walked right in front of them.
Charlie Rose, Ambassador Samantha Power, Michael Stipe, James Franco, and Cookie Monster. (There were a few brief moments when you could see Cookie Monster’s puppeteer, too.)
Toby Keith, Segway inventor Dean Kamen, and Kareem Abdul Jabbar. These guys win the prize for “group who knew the song the least and absolutely could not fake it at all.” You had one verse to learn! Come on.
In addition to Colbert and Stewart, there’s Bill de Blasio, Chief of Staff of the Army General Raymond T. Odierno, and Barry Manilow, plus Jeff Daniels and Sam Waterston again. Hiding behind these people are activist and former ambassador Andrew Young and writer George Saunders. See that blip behind Barry Manilow’s neck? That’s George Saunders.
In the foreground is James Franco, and behind him is David Gregory, Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, Christiane Amanpour, Patrick Stewart, and Bravo’s Andy Cohen. They win for “group who did actually learn the song.” Sing it, Andy.
That’s Stone Philips, who was the show’s very first guest, plus Peter Frampton, Arianna Huffington, and activist Naquasia Legrand.
Alan Alda, Cory Booker, George Lucas, soccer star and broadcaster Alexi Lalas, and Jon Batiste. That’d be a good panel for a talk show.
Franco and Cohen again, now with Patrick Stewart, Elijah Wood, Henry Kissinger, Mike Huckabee, Bob Costas, Cookie Monster, and Tim Meadows. Henry Kissinger clapped along at the wrong times.
The whole staff from Colbert HQ.
Two members of Pussy Riot.
Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan.
Members of the U.S. Armed Services in Afghanistan.
Colbert’s character Tek Jansen.
And Esteban Colberto, with female companions.
Bill Clinton.
Astronaut Terry Virts, actually in space, on the treadmill named for Colbert.
J.J. Abrams.
Jake Tapper, Lesley Stahl, astronaut Garrett Reisman, Claire McCaskill, Terry Gross, legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, and the cutoff political scientist Norm Ornstein.
That’s Eliot Spitzer all the way on the left, and that’s Nate Silver with his face obscured. The person doing the obscuring is Colbert’s younger son John. Then it’s Colbert’s daughter Madeline and wife Evie, and then Comedy Central president Michele Ganeless. Behind her with the red flower is Paulina Porizkova. Colbert’s older son Peter is in here, too, somewhere.
Dan Savage, special envoy for Guantanamo closure Cliff Sloan, Thomas Friedman, David Remnick, Paul Krugman, and former assistant secretary of Defense Bing West. Right behind Sloan you can sort of spot Bradley Whitford, too.
Now you can see George Saunders, in front of Olbermann in the pink. In the lower right corner, that’s Richard Clarke in the purple, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton in the orange, and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales in the blue. And all the way in the back on the right is Mark Cuban.
And now here’s everybody. Not mentioned so far in this slideshow, but present are: artist Shepard Fairey, Emily Bazelon, author Steve Pinker, founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America Paul Rieckhoff, physicist Brian Greene, mountaineer and author Ed Viesturs, Matt Taibbi, Maureen Dowd, columnist Jonathan Alter, comic-book author Joe Quesada,  Nation editor Katrina vanden Heuvel (that’s Nation the magazine, not Colbert Nation), Ann Patchett, Grover Norquist, Father Jim Martin, the NYT’s David Leonhardt, poet Robert Pinsky, TV screamer Jim Cramer, scientist George Church, and law professor Cass Sunstein.
Abraham Lincoln and Santa.
And, finally, Alex Trebek.
A Complete List of Who Was on the Colbert Finale