The Late Show at Waffle House

The Late Show has a famous history with food. David Letterman threw watermelons off the roof of the Ed Sullivan Theater, Rupert Jee’s Hello Deli became legendary due to his bits with Dave, and now…Waffle House.

Some backstory. Stephen Colbert is from Charleston, SC. He misspent a portion of his youth at the Waffle House on Savannah Highway after a number of wild and crazy nights, where it’s not uncommon to meet other folks who’ve had wild and crazy nights. This is, apparently, a known Waffle House phenomenon, and not exclusive to Charleston.

Anyway, every Waffle House has a jukebox and on every Waffle House jukebox is a section with songs solely about Waffle House. Well, there was no way for Stephen to resist this, so he and country music star Sturgill Simpson wrote a soon-to-be classic tune with the goal of having it installed on Waffle House jukeboxes across the United States. That song: No Shirt, No Shows, No Knuckleheads.

Waffle House loved the song and loved the idea, and so Stephen, the Late Show team, and a Visual Edge crew headed by DP Bruce Liffiton headed to Charleston on June 17, 2016 to film some shenanigans.

Tonight’s office.

A photo posted by Chris Cardno (@chriscardno) on

Our call time was 4pm, which gave us 5 hours to get all the gear set up and block out the majority of the shoot with producer Liz Levin.

Late Show with Stephen Colbert - Blocking the Waffle House

We’d determined that we were shooting with Sony PMW-F5s and one PXW-FS7 rigged into the ceiling above the waffle irons. To allow both Liz and the folks from Waffle House see what we were shooting we attached Teradek Bolts to each camera and fed the two primaries to a Flanders Scientific 21″ monitor with dual display, and the wide cutaway camera to a TVLogic 5.5″ monitor:

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert - Teradek, Flanders & TV Logic Monitoring Station

The whole rig was powered via 230wh B4B batteries and mounted on a rolling low boy stand, to enable us to move it around the restaurant easily. And it worked like a charm all night. After some initial resistance to the set-up, the wireless monitoring station proved itself utterly invaluable.

Stephen and Sturgill arrived at 8:45pm and, as we’d been warned, Stephen was sick as a dog. You can hear it in his voice at the start of the piece but, being the pro that he is, he muscled through until the adrenaline kicked in. We shot from 9pm until 2am with an increasing cast of…local color and everyone had an absolute blast.

Late Show with Stephen Colbert - Behind The Scenes 1

Thanks to Liz Levin, Megan Gearheart, all the folks up in NYC at the Late Show and, of course, Stephen & Sturgill for a really fun shoot. And a huge thanks to the wonderful staff and customers at Waffle House #411, who could not have been more accommodating or gracious. And who, after a long night, sent me on my way with a generous portion of smothered, covered, chunked and peppered hash browns to keep me going while I dumped and backed up data back at my hotel room.

Smothered & covered & chunked & peppered. My first ever Waffle House experience. Damn good hash browns.

A photo posted by Chris Cardno (@chriscardno) on

You may also like...