By Christian Holub
Updated August 05, 2016 at 01:04 PM EDT

Stephen Colbert’s love for J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings is well-known. He has beaten James Franco in trivia contests and once posed on EW’s cover dressed as Gandalf, Legolas, and Bilbo Baggins. So at the beginning of each episode of The Late Show when Colbert takes audience questions, it’s no surprise that many would pose Tolkien-related queries. On Thursday, The Late Show posed a compilation of such questions, and Colbert’s ever-entertaining responses.

Colbert’s answers, in fact, often go above and beyond the parameters of the question. For instance, one audience member asked which Lord of the Rings character Colbert would interview if he could. Colbert immediately answered with Gandalf, and then explained why.

“Gandalf is a Maiar who has been in Arda since Iluvatar cried ‘Ea,’ so he knows it all,” Colbert said. “The cool thing about Gandalf is in Valinor, he was named Olorin, and he was one of the Maiar associated with the Valar, who are upper angels you might say, the archangels or demi-gods, named Nienna. Most of the Valar in The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion are associated in some way with a power or a focus or a patronage associated with Greek gods … Nienna, there’s no association in any other mythology. Because what does she do forever? What is her power? Does anyone know? Nienna weeps forever, and turns grief into wisdom. That is her power. And Gandalf, who was Olorin at the time, that’s his patron, that’s who he hangs out with. That’s why he’s not interested in power or glory when he comes to Middle-Earth, like Saruman. Saruman was a Maiar of the Valar Aule, who was the craftsman. So that makes sense, right?”

In other words, never engage Colbert in a Tolkien debate unless you’ve read The Silmarillion within the past few weeks.

Watch the clip below.

The Late Show With Stephen Colbert

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