The host started the present by addressing the nation music star’s dying. “I used to be shocked and saddened once I noticed the information this morning,” mentioned Colbert. “I knew Toby was sick — he’d been combating abdomen most cancers for a while — however I nonetheless had hope that we’d see one another once more and that we might hear him on this stage.”
Colbert then spoke about his first time assembly Keith in 2006, when the nation musician was a visitor on The Colbert Report, and the way the 2 sparked a shocking friendship. “I used to be fortunate sufficient to change into mates with Toby over time, as unbelievable as that appears. We met very early on The Colbert Report and again then, there was a not-so-helpful legend that I had knives out for a few of my friends. It didn’t assist that, in the beginning, I typically did,” Colbert mentioned.
“I bear in mind having some type of plan for Toby, I feel associated to his “Boot in your ass” track [“Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue (The Angry American)”]. However proper earlier than I went onstage, I bear in mind vividly wanting down at my sneakers and saying, ‘What are you doing? You’re a bunch. He’s your visitor. Make him really feel welcome. See who he’s,’” recalled Colbert.
“And what have you learnt? We hit it off like a home on fireplace. I couldn’t imagine how a lot I loved speaking to Toby Keith,” he continued. “And, evidently, Toby had fun too, as a result of after the present, I used to be headed to a postmortem assembly and he was popping out of his inexperienced room. These rooms are on the identical hallway. As he was heading for the door that goes all the way down to 54th Road, he caught my eye and mentioned: ‘Hey man, you do an ideal job. Regardless of the fuck it’s you do.’ And I took it as the best praise.”
Keith’s phrases touched Colbert a lot that his head author Allison Silverman stitched the quote on a pillow as a Christmas current for the host. “It has been in my workplace ever since,” mentioned Colbert.
“That day, Toby taught me to not prejudge a visitor and to have my intention however to maintain my eyes open to the truth of who they’re. For that lesson, and for lots of different issues, I’m all the time gonna be grateful.”
Colbert then detailed Keith’s in depth accomplishments as one in every of nation’s greatest names and shared different reminiscences of instances the late musician appeared on his present. In one of the poignant anecdotes, Colbert famous that one in every of his “best honors” was when he had the chance to induct Keith into the Songwriters Corridor of Fame in 2015, performing a rendition of “As Good As I As soon as Was,” which is a Keith track he “used to pay attention to each night time earlier than happening stage.”
Keith died Monday night on the age of 62, two years after being recognized with abdomen most cancers. His remaining efficiency was on the inaugural Individuals’s Selection Nation Awards in 2023, the place he was additionally honored with the Nation Icon Award.