There was a hug for the bandleader, Jon Batiste, without any need for social distancing. There were chants of “Ste-phen! Ste-phen! Ste-phen!” And a standing ovation that lasted a minute and a half.

“So how ya been?” Stephen Colbert said to a roar of laughter from a crowd of more than 420 people — all vaccinated, most of them maskless — at the Ed Sullivan Theater in Midtown Manhattan.

The CBS late night host was back in his element on Monday, connecting with a capacity crowd 460 days after the coronavirus pandemic had emptied the theater where he has worked since 2015. He was reveling in the moment.

“I am proud to say that we are the first show back up on Broadway,” Mr. Colbert said, adding a profane taunt of “The Lion King.”

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