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Stephen Colbert
Stephen Colbert 4 by David Shankbone.jpg
Stephen Colbert in New York City, in November 2007
Birth name Stephen Tyrone Colbert[1]
Born May 13, 1964 (1964-05-13) (age 45)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Medium Theatre, Television, Film, Books
Nationality American
Years active 1984–present
Genres Sketch comedy, Improvisational comedy, Character comedy, Political satire/News satire
Subject(s) American culture, Popular culture, Current events, Mass media/News media, American politics, American conservatism, The Christian Right, Political Punditry, Egomania, Xenophobia, Anti-Intellectualism, Sexuality
Influences Don Novello, Bill Cosby,[2] George Carlin, Dean Martin,[3] Jon Stewart,[4] Steve Martin[5] Bill O'Reilly[6]
Influenced Rob Corddry,[7] Ed Helms,[7] Aasif Mandvi[8]
Spouse Evelyn McGee-Colbert (3 children)
Notable works and roles Chuck Noblet in
Strangers with Candy
Stephen Colbert in
The Daily Show and
The Colbert Report
Writer,
I Am America (And So Can You!)
Co-writer,
America (The Book)
Phil Ken Sebben and Myron Reducto in Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law
Professor Richard Impossible in The Venture Bros.
Signature Stephen Colbert Signature.svg
Emmy Awards
Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music or Comedy Program
2004, 2005, 2006 The Daily Show
2008 The Colbert Report
Grammy Awards
Best Comedy Album
2010 A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All!

Stephen Tyrone Colbert (pronounced /koʊlˈbɛər/; born /ˈkoʊlbərt/[4] on May 13, 1964) is an Emmy-, Grammy-, and Peabody award-winning American political satirist, writer, comedian and television host. He is the host of Comedy Central's The Colbert Report, a satirical news show in which Colbert portrays a caricatured version of conservative political pundits.

Colbert originally studied to be an actor, but became interested in improvisational theatre when he met famed Second City director Del Close while attending Northwestern University. He first performed professionally as an understudy for Steve Carell at Second City Chicago; among his troupe mates were comedians Paul Dinello and Amy Sedaris, with whom he developed the critically-acclaimed sketch comedy series Exit 57.

Colbert also wrote and performed on the short-lived Dana Carvey Show before collaborating with Sedaris and Dinello again on the cult television series Strangers with Candy. He gained considerable attention for his role on the latter as closeted, gay history teacher Chuck Noblet. It was his work as a correspondent on Comedy Central's news-parody series The Daily Show, however, that first introduced him to a wide audience.

In 2005, he left The Daily Show to host a spin-off series, The Colbert Report. Following The Daily Show's news-parody concept, The Colbert Report is a parody of personality-driven political opinion shows such as The O'Reilly Factor. Since its debut, the series has been successful, establishing itself as one of Comedy Central's highest-rated series, earning Colbert three Emmy nominations and an invitation to perform as featured entertainer at the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner in 2006. Colbert was named one of Time's 100 most influential people in 2006.[9] His book, I Am America (And So Can You!), was No. 1 on The New York Times Best Seller List.

Contents

Early life

Colbert was born in Washington, D.C.[10] and grew up in Charleston, South Carolina on James Island, the youngest of eleven children in an Irish Catholic family.[4][11][12] The Colbert children, in order from oldest to youngest, were James ("Jimmy"), Edward ("Eddie"), Mary, William ("Billy"), Margo, Thomas ("Tommy"), Jay, Elizabeth ("Lulu"), Paul, Peter, and Stephen.

According to research done by Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., of Harvard University, in 2010 for the PBS series Faces of America, he had Irish ancestors who immigrated to the United States in the 19th century. Although his great-great-grandfather, Michael Garin, arrived during Great Famine in Ireland in the mid-1800s, some of his ancestors came earlier. His German ancestors came to the American colonies in the mid-18th century.[13]

His father, James William Colbert, Jr., was the vice president for academic affairs at the Medical University of South Carolina. His mother, Lorna Colbert (née Tuck), was a housewife.[13][14] In interviews, Colbert has described his parents as devout people who also strongly valued intellectualism and taught their children that it was possible to question the Church and still be Catholic.[15] The emphasis his family placed on intelligence and his observation of negative stereotypes of Southerners led Colbert to train himself to suppress his Southern accent while he was still quite young. As a child, he observed that Southerners were often depicted as being less intelligent than other characters on scripted television; to avoid that stereotype, he taught himself to imitate the speech of American news anchors.[16][17]

Colbert sometimes comedically claims his surname is French, but his family is actually of Irish and distant German descent.[18][4] Originally, the name was pronounced /ˈkoʊlbərt/ in English; Stephen Colbert's father, James, wanted to pronounce the name /koʊlˈbɛər/, but maintained the /ˈkoʊlbərt/ pronunciation out of respect for his own father. However, James offered his children the option to pronounce the name whichever way they preferred.[11] Stephen started using /koʊlˈbɛər/ later in life when he transferred to Northwestern University, taking advantage of the opportunity to reinvent himself in a new place where no one knew him.[4] Stephen's brother Ed, an intellectual property attorney, retained /ˈkoʊlbərt/; this was shown in a February 12, 2009 appearance on The Colbert Report, when his youngest brother asked him, "/koʊlˈbɛər/ or /ˈkoʊlbərt/?" Ed responded "/ˈkoʊlbərt/", to which Stephen jokingly replied, "See you in Hell."[19]

On September 11, 1974, when Colbert was ten years old, his father and two of his brothers, Peter and Paul, were killed in the crash of Eastern Air Lines Flight 212 while it was attempting to land in Charlotte, North Carolina. They were en route to enroll the two boys at Canterbury School in New Milford, Connecticut.[12][20] Shortly thereafter, Lorna Colbert relocated the family downtown to the more urban environment of East Bay Street in Charleston. By his own account, Colbert found the transition difficult and did not easily make new friends in his new neighborhood.[11] Colbert later described himself during this time as detached, lacking a sense of importance regarding the things with which other children concerned themselves.[17][21] He developed a love of science fiction and fantasy novels, especially the works of J. R. R. Tolkien, of which he remains an avid fan. During his adolescence, he also developed an intense interest in fantasy role-playing games, especially Dungeons & Dragons,[21][22] a pastime which he later characterized as an early experience in acting and improvisation.[3]

Colbert attended Charleston's Episcopal Porter-Gaud School, where he participated in several school plays and contributed to the school newspaper but, by his own assessment, was not highly motivated academically.[21] During his time as a teenager, he also briefly fronted a Rolling Stones cover band.[23] When he was younger, he had hoped to study marine biology, but surgery intended to repair a severely perforated eardrum caused him inner ear damage. The damage was severe enough that he was unable to pursue a career that would involve scuba diving. The damage also left him deaf in his right ear.[11][24] For a while, he was uncertain whether he would attend college,[25] but ultimately he applied and was accepted to Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, where a friend had also enrolled. There he continued to participate in plays while studying mainly philosophy;[2][21] he found the curriculum rigorous but was more focused than he had been in high school and was able to apply himself to his studies. Despite the lack of a significant theater community at Hampden-Sydney, Colbert's interest in acting escalated during this time. After two years, he transferred to Northwestern University's School of Communication to study performance, emboldened by the realization that he loved performing even when no one was coming to shows.[21]

Career

Early career in comedy

Stephen Colbert and his wife Evelyn McGee-Colbert at the 2006 Time 100

While at Northwestern, Colbert studied with the intent of becoming a dramatic actor; mostly he performed in experimental plays and was uninterested in comedy. He began performing improvisation at the Annoyance Theatre in Chicago as a part of Del Close's ImprovOlympic at a time when the project was focused on competitive, long form improvisation, rather than improvisational comedy. "I wasn't gonna do Second City," Colbert later recalled, "because those Annoyance people looked down on Second City because they thought it wasn't pure improv—there was a slightly snobby, mystical quality to the Annoyance people."[3] After Colbert graduated in 1986, however, he was in need of a job, and a friend who was employed at Second City's box office offered him work answering phones and selling souvenirs.[21] Colbert accepted, and discovered that Second City employees were entitled to take classes at their training center for free.[3] Despite his earlier aversion to the comedy group, he signed up for improvisation classes, and enjoyed the experience greatly.

Shortly thereafter, he was hired to perform with Second City's touring company, initially as an understudy for Steve Carell. It was there he met Amy Sedaris and Paul Dinello, with whom he often collaborated later in his career. By their retelling, the three comedians did not get along at first—Dinello thought Colbert was uptight, pretentious and cold, while Colbert thought of Dinello as "an illiterate thug"[26]—but the trio became close friends while touring together, discovering that they shared a similar comic sensibility.[21]

When Sedaris and Dinello were offered the opportunity to create a television series for HBO Downtown Productions, Colbert left The Second City and relocated to New York in order to work with them on the sketch comedy show Exit 57.[21] The series debuted on Comedy Central in 1995 and aired through 1996. Despite only lasting for 12 episodes, the show received favorable reviews[27][28] and was nominated for five CableACE Awards in 1995, in categories including best writing, performance, and comedy series.[29]

Following the cancellation of Exit 57, Colbert worked for six months as a cast member and writer on The Dana Carvey Show, alongside former Second City cast mate Steve Carell, as well as Robert Smigel, Charlie Kaufman, Louis C.K., and Dino Stamatopoulos, among others. The series, described by one reviewer as "kamikaze satire" in "borderline-questionable taste," had sponsors pull out after its first episode aired, and was canceled after seven episodes.[30] Colbert then worked briefly as a freelance writer for Saturday Night Live with Robert Smigel. Smigel also brought his animated sketch The Ambiguously Gay Duo to SNL from The Dana Carvey Show; Colbert provided the voice of Ace on both series, opposite Steve Carell as Gary. Needing money, he also worked as a script consultant for VH1 and MTV, before taking a job filming humorous correspondent segments for Good Morning America.[21] Only two of the segments he proposed were ever produced, and only one aired, but the job led his agent to refer him to The Daily Show's then-producer, Madeline Smithberg, who hired Colbert on a trial basis in 1997.[31]

Strangers with Candy

During the same time frame, Colbert worked again with Sedaris and Dinello to develop a new comedy series for Comedy Central, Strangers with Candy. Comedy Central picked up the series in 1998 after Colbert had already begun working on The Daily Show. As a result he accepted a reduced role, filming only around twenty Daily Show segments a year while he worked on the new series.[21]

Strangers with Candy was conceived of as a parody of after school specials, following the life of Jerri Blank, a 46-year-old dropout who returns to finish high school after 32 years of life on the street. Most noted by critics for its use of offensive humor, it concluded each episode by delivering to the audience a skewed, politically incorrect moral lesson.[32] Colbert served as a main writer alongside Sedaris and Dinello, as well as portraying Jerri's strict but uninformed history teacher, Chuck Noblet, seen throughout the series dispensing inaccurate information to his classes. Colbert has likened this to the character he played on The Daily Show and later The Colbert Report, claiming that he has a very specific niche in portraying "poorly informed, high-status idiot" characters.[12] Another running joke throughout the series was that Noblet, a closeted homosexual, was having a "secret" affair with fellow teacher Geoffrey Jellineck despite the fact that their relationship was apparent to everyone around them. This obliviousness also appears in Colbert's Daily Show and Colbert Report character.

Thirty episodes of the series were made, which aired on Comedy Central in 1999 and 2000. Though its ratings were not remarkable during its initial run, it has been characterized as a cult show with a small but dedicated audience.[33] Colbert reprised his role for a film adaptation, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2005 and had a limited release in 2006. The film received mixed reviews. Colbert also co-wrote the screenplay with Sedaris and Dinello.[34]

The Daily Show

Stephen Colbert reporting in front of a greenscreen as a correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

Stephen Colbert joined the cast of Comedy Central's parody-news series The Daily Show in 1997, when the show was in its second season. Originally one of four correspondents who filmed segments from remote locations in the style of network news field reporters, Colbert was referred to as "the new guy" on-air for his first two years on the show, during which time Craig Kilborn served as host. When Kilborn left the show prior to the 1999 season, Jon Stewart took over hosting duties, also serving as a writer and co-executive producer. From this point, the series gradually began to take on a more political tone and increase in popularity, particularly in the latter part of the 2000 U.S. presidential election season. The roles of the show's correspondents were expanded to include more in-studio segments, as well as international reports which were almost always done in the studio with the aid of a greenscreen.[21]

Unlike Stewart, who essentially hosts The Daily Show as himself,[35] Colbert developed a correspondent character for his pieces on the series. Colbert has described his correspondent character as "a fool who has spent a lot of his life playing not the fool"—one who is able to cover it at least well enough to deal with the subjects that he deals with".[21] Colbert was frequently pitted against knowledgeable interview subjects, or against Stewart in scripted exchanges, with the resultant dialogue demonstrating the character's lack of knowledge of whatever subject he is discussing.[6][21] Colbert also made generous use of humorous fallacies of logic in explaining his point of view on any topic. Other Daily Show correspondents have adopted a similar style; former correspondent Rob Corddry recalls that when he and Ed Helms first joined the show's cast in 2002, they "just imitated Stephen Colbert for a year or two."[7] Correspondent Aasif Mandvi has stated "I just decided I was going to do my best Stephen Colbert impression."[8]

Colbert has appeared in several recurring segments for The Daily Show, including "Even Stevphen" with Steve Carell, in which both characters were expected to debate a selected topic but instead would unleash their anger at one another. Colbert also commonly hosted "This Week in God," a report on topics in the news pertaining to religion, presented with the help of the "God Machine." Colbert also filed reports from the floor of the Democratic National Convention and the Republican National Convention as a part of The Daily Show's award-winning coverage of the 2000 and 2004 U.S. Presidential elections; many from the latter were included as part of their The Daily Show: Indecision 2004 DVD release. In several episodes of The Daily Show, Colbert filled in as anchor in the absence of Jon Stewart, including the full week of March 3, 2002, when Stewart was scheduled to host Saturday Night Live. After Colbert left the show, the duty of filling in for Stewart was assumed by Rob Corddry until his departure in August 2006. Corddry also took over "This Week in God" segments, although a recorded sample of Colbert's voice is still used as the sound effect for the God Machine. Later episodes of The Daily Show have reused older Colbert segments under the label "Klassic Kolbert." Colbert won three Emmys as a writer of The Daily Show in 2004, 2005, and 2006.

The Colbert Report

The set of The Colbert Report satirizes cable-personality political talk shows.

Since October 17, 2005, Colbert has hosted his own television show, The Colbert Report, a Daily Show spin-off which parodies the conventions of television news broadcasting,[16] particularly cable-personality political talk shows like The O'Reilly Factor and Scarborough Country.[3][36] Colbert hosts the show in-character as a blustery right-wing pundit, generally considered to be an extension of his character on The Daily Show. Conceived by co-creators Stewart, Colbert, and Ben Karlin in part as an opportunity to explore "the character-driven news," the series focuses less on the day-to-day news style of the Daily Show, instead frequently concentrating on the foibles of the host-character himself.

The concept for The Report was first seen in a series of Daily Show segments which advertised the then-fictional series as a joke. It was later developed by Stewart's Busboy Productions and pitched to Comedy Central, which greenlighted the program; Comedy Central had already been searching for a way to extend the successful Daily Show franchise beyond a half hour.[37] The series opened to strong ratings, averaging 1.2 million viewers nightly during its first week on the air. Comedy Central signed a long-term contract for The Colbert Report within its first month on the air, when it immediately established itself among the network's highest-rated shows.[38][39]

Much of Colbert's personal life is reflected in his character on The Colbert Report. With the extended exposure of the character on the show, he often references his interest in and knowledge of Catholicism, science fiction, and The Lord of the Rings, as well as using real facts to create his character's history. His alternate persona was also raised in South Carolina, is the youngest of 11 siblings, and is married.[40] The actual Colbert's career history in acting and comedy, however, is often downplayed.

Colbert in support of the United States Military and in association with the USO brought his show to Baghdad, Iraq on June 5, 2009 to film a week of shows, entertain the troops, and boost morale for forces in Iraq. Called Operation Iraqi Stephen, The episodes were filmed from the 7th-9th of June, 2009.

2006 White House Correspondents' Association Dinner

Stephen Colbert telling jokes several feet away from George W. Bush at the 2006 White House Correspondents' Dinner

On Saturday, April 29, 2006, Stephen Colbert was the featured entertainer for the 2006 White House Correspondents' Association Dinner. Standing a few yards from U.S. President George W. Bush[41]—in front of an audience the Associated Press called a "Who's Who of power and celebrity"[42]—Colbert delivered a searing routine targeting the president and the media.[43] In his politically conservative character from The Colbert Report, Colbert satirized the George W. Bush Administration and the White House press corps with such lines as:

I stand by this man. I stand by this man because he stands for things. Not only for things, he stands on things. Things like aircraft carriers and rubble and recently flooded city squares. And that sends a strong message, that no matter what happens to America, she will always rebound—with the most powerfully staged photo ops in the world.[44]

Colbert received a chilly response from the audience.[45] His jokes were often met with silence and muttering, apart from the enthusiastic laughter of a few in the audience.[46] The major media outlets paid little attention to it initially. Washington Post columnist Dan Froomkin and Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism professor Todd Gitlin claimed that this was because Colbert's routine was as critical of the media as it was of Bush.[47][48] Richard Cohen, also writing for The Washington Post, responded that the routine was not funny.[49] The video of Colbert's performance became an Internet and media sensation,[50][51] and ratings for The Colbert Report rose 37% in the week following the speech.[52] In Time magazine James Poniewozik called it "the political-cultural touchstone issue of 2006."[53] Writing six months later, New York Times columnist Frank Rich referred to Colbert's speech as a "cultural primary" and called it the "defining moment" of the 2006 midterm elections.[54][55] The performance earned Colbert the "Gutsiest Move" Award on Spike TV Guys' Choice Awards on June 13, 2007.[56]

Other work

Stephen Colbert during an appearance at Florida State University

Stephen Colbert is co-author of the satirical text-and-picture novel Wigfield: The Can Do Town That Just May Not, which was published in 2003 by Hyperion Books. The novel was a collaboration between Colbert, Amy Sedaris, and Paul Dinello, and tells the story of a small town threatened by the impending destruction of a massive dam. The narrative is presented as a series of fictional interviews with the town's residents, accompanied by photos. The three authors toured performing an adaptation of Wigfield on stage the same year the book was released.[57]

Colbert appeared in a small supporting role in the 2005 film adaptation of Bewitched. He has made guest appearances on the television series Curb Your Enthusiasm, Spin City, and Law & Order: Criminal Intent, and on the improvisational comedy show Whose Line Is It Anyway?. He voiced the characters of Reducto and Phil Ken Sebben in the Adult Swim's Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law but left the show in 2005 to work on The Colbert Report. His characters were both killed, though he returned to voice Phil for the series finale. Colbert also has provided voices for Cartoon Network's The Venture Bros., Comedy Central's Crank Yankers, and American Dad!, as well as for Canadian animated comedy series The Wrong Coast. He appeared as Homer Simpson's life coach in the Simpsons episode "He Loves to Fly and He D'ohs".

Colbert filled in for Sam Seder on the second episode of The Majority Report on Air America Radio, and has also done reports for The Al Franken Show. He appeared on a track on Wig in a Box, a tribute album for Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Colbert read the part of Leopold Bloom in Bloomsday on Broadway XXIV: Love Literature Language Lust: Leopold's Women Bloom on June 16, 2005 at Symphony Space in New York City.[15] He appeared in a series of TV commercials for General Motors, as a not-too-bright investigator searching for the elusive (and non-existent in real life) "Mr. Goodwrench." He also portrayed the letter Z in Sesame Street: All-Star Alphabet, a 2005 video release.

Colbert is a producer of The 1 Second Film, the world's largest nonprofit collaborative art film. His video request that IMDb list his credit for The 1 Second Film ("it is as valid as most of my credits") enabled thousands of the film's producers to be listed in the massive movie database until they were recently removed.

Colbert has released one book associated with The Colbert Report, I Am America (And So Can You!). It was released on October 7, 2007 by Grand Central Publishing. Grand Central Publishing is the successor to Warner Books, which published America (The Book), written by The Daily Show staff. The book contains similar political satire, but was written primarily by Colbert himself rather than as a collaboration with his Colbert Report writing staff.[58]

On November 23, 2008, his Christmas special, A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All!, aired on Comedy Central. It was released on DVD in November 2008.[59]

In January 2010, Colbert was named the assistant sports psychologist for the US Olympic speed skating team at the 2010 Winter Olympics.[60][61] He was also invited to be part of NBC's 2010 Winter Olympics coverage team by Dick Ebersol, chairman of NBC Universal Sports.[62]

2008 presidential bid

Under his fictional persona in The Colbert Report, Colbert dropped hints of a potential presidential run throughout 2007, with speculation intensifying following the release of his book, I Am America (And So Can You!), which was widely rumored to be a sign that he was indeed testing the waters for a future bid for the White House. On October 16, 2007, he announced his candidacy on his show, stating his intention to run both on the Republican and Democratic platforms, but only as a "favorite son" in his native South Carolina.[63] He later abandoned plans to run as a Republican due to the $35,000 fee required to file for the South Carolina primary,[64] however he continued to seek a place on the Democratic ballot and on October 28, 2007, campaigned in the South Carolina state capital of Columbia, where he was presented with the key to the city by Mayor Bob Coble.[65]

After announcing his presidential ticket, he asked his viewers to cast their votes by donating to DonorsChoose.org, a online charity connecting individuals to classrooms in need.[66] Colbert's promotion inspired $68,000 in donations to South Carolina classrooms, which benefited over 14,000 low-income students.[67] Colbert teamed up with DonorsChoose.org again in 2008 by asking supporters of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to do the same. As a lead-up to the Pennsylvania primary, he created a "straw poll that makes a difference," where people could donate to Pennsylvania classroom projects in honor of their favorite candidate.[68] Colbert viewers donated $185,000 to projects reaching 43,000 students in Pennsylvania public schools.[69]

On November 1, 2007, the South Carolina Democratic Party executive council voted 13–3 to refuse Colbert's application onto the ballot. “The general sense of the council was that he wasn't a serious candidate and that was why he wasn't selected to be on the ballot," stated John Werner, the party's director. In addition, he was declared "not viable,"[70] as he was only running in one state.[71] Several days later he announced that he was dropping out of the race, saying that he did not wish to put the country through an agonizing Supreme Court battle.[72] CNN has reported that Obama supporters pressured the South Carolina Democratic Executive Council to keep Colbert off the ballot. One anonymous member of the council told CNN that former State Superintendent of Education Inez Tenenbaum had placed pressure on them to refuse Colbert's application despite his steady rise in polls.[73]

Though Colbert's real-life presidential campaign had ended, current Marvel Comics editor-in-chief Joe Quesada established in an interview on The Colbert Report that Colbert's campaign was still going strong in the fictional Marvel Universe, citing the cover art of a then-recent issue of The Amazing Spider-Man which featured a Colbert campaign Billboard in the background. Background appearances of Colbert campaign ads continued to appear in Marvel Comics publications, as recently as August 2008's Secret Invasion #5 (which also features a cameo of an alien Skrull posing as Colbert). In October 2008, Colbert made an extended 8-page appearance webslinging with Spider-Man in The Amazing Spider-Man issue #573.[74]

Personal life

Colbert with his sons at the Tribeca Film Festival

Although by his own account he was not particularly political before joining the cast of The Daily Show, Colbert is a self-described Democrat.[75][76] In an interview at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard Institute of Politics, he stated that he has "no problems with Republicans, just Republican policies."[77] He is also a practicing Roman Catholic,[15] as well as a Sunday school teacher.[78][79][80]

Colbert lives in Montclair, New Jersey, with his wife Evelyn McGee-Colbert, who appeared with him in an episode of Strangers with Candy as his mother. She also had an uncredited cameo as a nurse in the series pilot, along with a credited one (as his wife, Clair) in the Strangers with Candy movie. McGee-Colbert actually met Jon Stewart, later a good friend of Colbert, before she met her husband in 1990. McGee-Colbert is the daughter of prominent civil litigator in Charleston, Joseph McGee, of the firm Buist Moore Smythe McGee. The couple have three children: Madeline, Peter, and John, all of whom have appeared on The Daily Show.[81] Colbert prefers, however, that his children not watch his show, The Colbert Report, saying, "Kids can't understand irony or sarcasm, and I don't want them to perceive me as insincere."[17]

Awards and honors

Colbert knighted by H.M. Queen Noor of Jordan on April 7, 2009. He may style himself as Sir in formal setting

Colbert was the recipient of three Emmy Awards as a writer for The Daily Show in 2004, 2005, and 2006, along with the rest of the Daily Show writers, and also won the award for writing in 2008 as a writer for the Colbert Report. He was also nominated for three Emmys for The Colbert Report in 2006, including Best Performance in a Variety, Musical Program or Special, which he lost to Barry Manilow. Manilow and Colbert would go on to jokingly sign and notarize a revolving biannual custody agreement for the Emmy on the Colbert Report episode aired on October 30, 2006. He lost the same category to Tony Bennett at the 2007 Emmys and to Don Rickles at the 2008 Emmys.

In 2005 and 2006 Colbert was nominated for Satellite Awards for his performance on The Colbert Report. He was also nominated by the Television Critics Association for a TCA Award for The Colbert Report in 2006. Colbert received two Peabody Awards for his work on The Daily Show: Indecision 2000 and Indecision 2004.

In January 2006, the American Dialect Society named truthiness, which Colbert featured on the premiere episode of The Colbert Report, as its 2005 Word of the Year. Colbert devoted time on five successive episodes to bemoaning the failure of the Associated Press to mention his role in popularizing the word truthiness in its news coverage of the Word of the Year.[82][83] On December 9, 2006, Merriam-Webster also announced that it selected truthiness as its Word of the Year for 2006. Votes were accepted on their website, and according to poll results, truthiness won by a five-to-one margin.[84]

In June 2006, after speaking at the school's commencement ceremony, Colbert received an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts degree from Knox College.[85]

Time named Stephen Colbert as one of the 100 most influential people in 2006.[9] In May 2006, New York magazine listed Colbert (and Jon Stewart) as one of its top dozen influential persons in media.[86] On March 3, 2007, Colbert was named Person of the Year by the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, Colorado.[87] On March 24, 2007, Stephen Colbert was also given the Speaker of the Year Award by The Cross Examination Debate Association (CEDA) for his "drive to expose the rhetorical shortcomings of contemporary political discourse."[88]

Colbert was named 2nd Sexiest TV News Anchor in September 2006 by Maxim Online, next to Mélissa Theuriau of France. He was the only man on the list.[89] In November 2006, he was named a "sexy surprise" by People in the Sexiest Man Alive honors.[90] In the December 2006 issue of GQ, Colbert is also named one of GQ's "Men of the Year."[91]

In February 2007, Ben & Jerry's unveiled a new ice cream flavor in honor of Colbert, named Stephen Colbert's AmeriCone Dream. Colbert waited until Easter to sample the ice cream because he "gave up sweets for Lent."[92] Colbert will donate all proceeds to charity through the new Stephen Colbert AmeriCone Dream Fund, which will distribute the money to various causes.[93]

After the Saginaw Spirit defeated the Oshawa Generals in Ontario Junior League Hockey, Oshawa Mayor John Gray declared March 20, 2007 (the mayor's own birthday) Stephen Colbert Day, honoring a previous bet with Stephen. At the event, Mayor Gray referred to the publicity the bet brought the city, remarking, "This is the way to lose a bet."[94]

Colbert was honored for the Gutsiest Move on the Spike TV Guys' Choice Awards on June 13, 2007 for his performance at the 2006 White House Correspondents' Association Dinner.[95] In August 2007, Virgin America announced that one of their airplanes is named Air Colbert.[96] On October 28, 2007, Colbert received the key to the city of Columbia, South Carolina from Mayor Bob Coble.[97]

On December 20, 2007 Colbert was named Celebrity of the Year by The Associated Press.[98] On April 2, 2008 he received a Peabody Award for The Colbert Report, saying in response, "I proudly accept this award and begrudgingly forgive the Peabody Committee for taking three years to recognize greatness."[99]

Colbert delivered the Class Day address to the graduating class of Princeton University on June 2, 2008, and accepted the Class of 2008 Understandable Vanity Award, consisting of a sketch of Colbert and a mirror.[100] He also has been announced as the Person of the Year for the 12th annual Webby Awards.[101]

In 2008, East Carolina University associate professor Jason Bond named a species of trapdoor spider Aptostichus stephencolberti in honor of Stephen Colbert.[102]

In exchange for his signing of the Global Zero declaration, Colbert required Queen Noor of Jordan to knight him on the April 7, 2009 episode of The Colbert Report.[103] The brief ceremony was completed with Andúril, the prop sword from The Lord of the Rings films that Colbert had received previously from Viggo Mortensen.[104] There was no chivalric order conferred unto Colbert, as the Kingdom of Jordan has none, which makes him a knight bachelor-at-arms. While knighthood confers an archaic social status that is not legally recognized in the United States, Colbert may still be styled as "Sir" in social settings. He has, since the episode of his knighthood, been listed in the ending credits as "Sir Dr. Stephen T. Colbert, D.F.A."[105]

In January 2010, Colbert received the Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album for his album A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All!. He also announced the nominees for Song of the Year while toting a pre-released Apple iPad.[106]

Filmography

Year Title Role Notes
1995 Exit 57 Various
1996 The Dana Carvey Show Various
1997 Shock Asylum Dr. Dewalt Short film
The Daily Show Stephen Colbert 1997–2005 (regular)
2005–Present (recurring)
1999 Let It Snow Happy Successful Guy Also known as Snow Days
Strangers with Candy Chuck Noblet 1999–2000
2000 Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law Myron Reducto / Phil Ken Sebben / The Eagle of Truth 2000–2007
2003 Nobody Knows Anything TV Newsman
2003 Chalkzone Himself (paring-up w/ Kurtwood Smith)
2004 Curb Your Enthusiasm Tourist Man
Law and Order: Criminal Intent James Bennett
The Venture Bros. Professor Richard Impossible 2004-2006
2005 The Great New Wonderful Mr. Peersall
Bewitched Stu Robison
Outlaw Tennis Announcer Video game
The Colbert Report Stephen Colbert 2005-Present
2006 Strangers with Candy Chuck Noblet Feature film based on TV show
2008 The Love Guru Jay Kell (Hockey Announcer)
A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All! Santa Claus, Stephen Colbert
2009 Monsters vs Aliens The President (voice)
The 1 Second Film Self/Producer

Bibliography

Discography

  • A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All! in 2008

References

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External links

General
Audio/Video

Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Reality has a well-known liberal bias.
Well, I thought it was funny.

Stephen Tyrone Colbert (born 13 May 1964) is an American satirist, comedian, writer and actor best known for his work on The Daily Show and, starting in 2005, The Colbert Report, in which he portrays a parody of conservative media pundits. He graduated from Northwestern University in 1986, and appeared in the films Nobody Knows Anything! (2003), Snow Days (1999), and Shock Asylum (1997). In 1995, Colbert made his TV debut on Comedy Central in Exit 57 and was later on the show Strangers with Candy. Colbert did voice work for "The Ambiguously Gay Duo" on Saturday Night Live as the voice of Ace, and also provided the voices of "Myron Reducto", "Phil Ken Sebben", and "The Eagle Of Truth" on Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law.

Contents

Sourced

I think of him as well intentioned, poorly informed, high status idiot.
Don’t be afraid to be a fool. ... Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it is the farthest thing from it.
In the Wikipedia age, everybody can be an expert in five minutes.
We claim no respectability. There's no status I would not surrender for a joke.
I don't perceive my role as a newsman at all. I'm a comedian from stem to stern.
You can’t laugh and be afraid at the same time—of anything. If you're laughing, I defy you to be afraid.
  • I didn't realize quite how liberal I was until I was asked to make passionate comedic choices as opposed to necessarily successful comedic choices.
  • Don't cry over spilled milk. By this time tomorrow, it'll be free yogurt.
    • "The Colbert Report," November 12, 2009.
  • Such a proud moment of professionalism. You work for years crafting cogent satirical essays and the thing that everybody remembers is me making love to a Chiquita and bursting into laughter. What you can't see off camera is Jon started laughing first. And then I'm weak. As much as I want to make the audience laugh, I really want to make Jon laugh.
  • My character is self-important, poorly informed, well-intentioned, but an idiot… So we said, "Let's give him a promotion."
    • "Colbert spoofs cable news on Daily Show spinoff" Associated Press report (31 October 2005)
  • Truthiness is tearing apart our country, and I don't mean the argument over who came up with the word. I don't know whether it's a new thing, but it's certainly a current thing, in that it doesn't seem to matter what facts are. It used to be, everyone was entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts. But that's not the case anymore. Facts matter not at all. Perception is everything. It's certainty. People love the president because he's certain of his choices as a leader, even if the facts that back him up don't seem to exist. It's the fact that he's certain that is very appealing to a certain section of the country. I really feel a dichotomy in the American populace. What is important? What you want to be true, or what is true?
  • I think of him as well intentioned, poorly informed, high status idiot.
    • On his character in The Colbert Report, in an interview on 60 Minutes (30 April 2006)
  • You said the war would pay for itself in fruit baskets. You said that our soldiers would march in the streets of Havana and people would shower them with bananas and cigars. That didn’t happen. Would you like to look into the camera and apologize to the American people?
    • One of his questions to President Theodore Roosevelt in his series Better Know A President on The Colbert Report[1] (17 May 2006)
  • Don’t be afraid to be a fool. Remember, you cannot be both young and wise. Young people who pretend to be wise to the ways of the world are mostly just cynics. Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it is the farthest thing from it. Because cynics don’t learn anything. Because cynicism is a self-imposed blindness, a rejection of the world because we are afraid it will hurt us or disappoint us. Cynics always say no. But saying yes begins things. Saying yes is how things grow. Saying yes leads to knowledge. "Yes" is for young people. So for as long as you have the strength to, say yes.
  • But you have one thing that may save you, and that is your youth. This is your great strength. It is also why I hate and fear you. Hear me out. It has been said that children are our future. But does that not also mean that we are their past? You are here to replace us. I don't understand why we're here helping and honoring them. You do not see union workers holding benefits for robots.
    • Knox College commencement address (3 June 2006)
  • If I want to say he didn't that's my right, and now, thanks to Wikipedia — it's also a fact.
    • On the ownership of slaves by George Washington, on The Colbert Report (31 July 2006).
  • Get your own entry in an encyclopedia... In the media age, everybody was famous for 15 minutes. In the Wikipedia age, everybody can be an expert in five minutes. Special bonus: You can edit your own entry to make yourself seem even smarter.
  • Well folks, it's October and you know what that means: only a few more weeks 'til Hallowe'en when my family traditionally puts up our Christmas decorations. People come from far and wide to visit our haunted manger. We make their kids stick their hands in a spoooky bowl of Frankincense!! It's actually just spaghetti.
    • On The Colbert Report (28 September 2006). Video available at Colbert Nation
  • Language has always been important in politics, but language is incredibly important to the present political struggle. Because if you can establish an atmosphere in which information doesn't mean anything, then there is no objective reality. The first show we did, a year ago, was our thesis statement: What you wish to be true is all that matters, regardless of the facts. Of course, at the time, we thought we were being farcical.
  • I have tender feelings for Nixon, because everybody has warm feelings about their childhood. Actually, I didn't like the Watergate trials 'cause they interrupted The Munsters... Nixon was the last liberal president. He supported women's rights, the environment, ending the draft, youth involvement, and now he's the boogeyman? Kerry couldn't even run on that today.
  • We claim no respectability. There's no status I would not surrender for a joke. So we don't have to defend anything.
    • Rolling Stone interview (31 October 2006)
  • I don't perceive my role as a newsman at all. I'm a comedian from stem to stern. You can cut me open and count the rings of jokes. If people learn something about the news by watching the show, that is incidental to my goal.
  • Answer honestly... Disabuse me of my ignorance. Don’t let me get away with anything. Don’t try to play my game. Be real. Be passionate. Hold your ideas. Give me resistance. Give me traction I can work against. The friction between reality, or the truly held concerns of the person, and the farcical concerns that I have, or my need to seem important, as opposed to actually understanding what’s true... Where those two things meet is where the comedy happens. So be real. That's the best thing you can do. And call me on my bullshit.
    • On how he would recommend Colbert Report guests approach interviews, on A Conversation with Stephen Colbert (1 December 2006).
  • I would say laughter is the best medicine. But it’s more than that. It’s an entire regime of antibiotics and steroids. Laughter brings the swelling down on our national psyche, and then applies an antibiotic cream... Obviously, it’s a challenge to make light of the darkness but, um, it’s better than crying about it.
  • I'm surprised at the reaction it got. I went down there and did exactly what I wanted. I didn't expect it to be some sort of cultural-political line in the sand. I did the style of jokes I'd been doing for six months. The fact that anybody found it surprising or alarming that I would do that was educational to me.
    • On the reaction to his performance at the White House Correspondents' Dinner, in Entertainment Weekly (4 January 2007)
  • At Pottery Barn, if you knock over a lamp, you have to glue it back together, even if when you're done it looks terrible and it doesn't work. Oh, and you have to stay in the store forever. Oh, and it's an exploding lamp.
  • We decided that my character had a pre-show tradition, like a ritual, which was to sing the lyrics to "I Want You To Want Me" by Cheap Trick into the mirror. Because, more than anything else, as much as he says he's bringing the truth, he just wants to be liked.
  • Not living in fear is a great gift, because certainly these days we do it so much. And do you know what I like about comedy? You can’t laugh and be afraid at the same time—of anything. If you're laughing, I defy you to be afraid.
  • We worked very hard to keep him from being a jerk by keeping in mind he's well intentioned. Just poorly informed. He wants to do the right thing but has none of the tools to achieve it. Because he has no curiosity, he doesn't like to read and he won't listen anybody, except the voices in his head.
  • Winning the Nobel Prize does not automatically qualify you to be commander in chief. I think George Bush has proved definitively that to be president, you don’t need to care about science, literature or peace.
  • While skin and race are often synonymous, skin cleansing is good, race cleansing is bad.
    • "A Mock Columnist, Amok", in The New York Times (14 October 2007)
  • Well, I thought it was funny.
  • I teach Sunday School, motherfucker.
    • Interviewing Stanford University professor emeritus Dr. Philip Zimbardo, author of the book The Lucifer Effect. After an increasingly heated debate on the problem of theodicy, Colbert sets the record straight responding to Zimbardo's slightly sarcastically charged "Obviously you learned well in Sunday School". The Colbert Report (11 February 2008)
  • It would be a very short pint. It would be gummy bears and matzah, and be called Chewy Jewy.
    • In response to a question about what he would put into a Jon Stewart Ben & Jerry's ice cream flavor, University of Buffalo Distinguished Speakers Series (4 April 2008)
  • Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day. Give a man a sub-prime fish loan and you're in business, buddy.
  • The market is not finished. The market still has over nine thousand points to drop. We'll get to Christmas at least.

White House Correspondents' Association Dinner (2006)

Somebody pinch me.
No matter what happens to America, she will always rebound — with the most powerfully staged photo ops in the world.
File:111807q.jpg
As excited as I am to be here with the president, I am appalled to be surrounded by the liberal media that is destroying America — with the exception of Fox News.
I just like the guy. He's a good joe. Obviously loves his wife, calls her his better half, and polls show America agrees.
Address at the Hilton Washington hotel, Washington, D.C. (29 April 2006)
  • Before I get started, if anybody needs anything else at their tables, just speak slowly and clearly into your table numbers. Someone from the NSA will be right over with a cocktail.
  • I believe democracy is our greatest export. At least until China figures out a way to stamp it out of plastic for three cents a unit.
  • I believe in America. I believe it exists. My gut tells me I live there. I feel that it extends from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and I strongly believe it has 50 states. And I cannot wait to see how the Washington Post spins that one tomorrow.
  • That's where the truth lies, right down here in the gut. Do you know you have more nerve endings in your gut than you have in your head? You can look it up. I know some of you are going to say "I did look it up, and that's not true." That's 'cause you looked it up in a book. Next time, look it up in your gut. I did. My gut tells me that's how our nervous system works.
  • Somebody pinch me. You know what? I'm a pretty sound sleeper, that may not be enough. Somebody shoot me in the face. Is he really not here tonight? Dammit.
    • Expressing his awe at being so close to the president.
  • I stand by this man. I stand by this man because he stands for things. Not only for things, he stands on things. Things like aircraft carriers and rubble and recently flooded city squares. And that sends a strong message, that no matter what happens to America, she will always rebound — with the most powerfully staged photo ops in the world.
  • Mayor Nagin is here from New Orleans, the chocolate city... Mayor Nagin, I'd like to welcome you to Washington D.C., the chocolate city with a marshmallow center, and a graham cracker crust of corruption. It's a Mallomar I guess is what I'm describing.
  • I believe the government that governs best is the government that governs least. And by these standards, we have set up a fabulous government in Iraq.
  • I've got a theory about how to handle these retired generals causing all this trouble: Don't let them retire! Come on, we've got a stop-loss program; let's use it on these guys. I've seen Zinni and that crowd on Wolf Blitzer. If you're strong enough to go on one of those pundit shows, you're strong enough to stand on a bank of computers and order men into battle. Come on.
  • I give people the truth, unfiltered by rational argument. I call it the "No Fact Zone". Fox News, I hold a copyright on that term.
  • I know there are some polls out there saying this man has a 32% approval rating. But guys like us, we don't pay attention to the polls. We know that polls are just a collection of statistics that reflect what people are thinking in "reality." And reality has a well-known liberal bias.
  • Sir, pay no attention to the people who say the glass is half empty, because 32% means it's 2/3 empty. There's still some liquid in that glass, is my point. But I wouldn't drink it. The last third is usually backwash.
  • Jesse Jackson is here. I had him on the show. Very interesting and challenging interview. You can ask him anything, but he’s going to say what he wants at the pace that he wants. It's like boxing a glacier. Enjoy that metaphor, by the way, because your grandchildren will have no idea what a glacier is.
  • As excited as I am to be here with the president, I am appalled to be surrounded by the liberal media that is destroying America — with the exception of Fox News. Fox News gives you both sides of every story: the president's side, and the vice president's side. But the rest of you, what are you thinking, reporting on NSA wiretapping or secret prisons in eastern Europe? Those things are secret for a very important reason: they're super-depressing. And if that's your goal, well, misery accomplished. Over the last five years you people were so good — over tax cuts, WMD intelligence, the effect of global warming. We Americans didn't want to know, and you had the courtesy not to try to find out. Those were good times, as far as we knew.
  • But, listen, let's review the rules. Here's how it works: the president makes decisions. He's the Decider. The press secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Just put 'em through a spell check and go home. Get to know your family again. Make love to your wife. Write that novel you got kicking around in your head. You know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration. You know — fiction.
  • Then you write, "Oh, they're just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic." First of all, that is a terrible metaphor. This administration is not sinking. This administration is soaring. If anything, they are rearranging the deck chairs on the Hindenburg.
  • The greatest thing about this man is he's steady. You know where he stands. He believes the same thing Wednesday that he believed on Monday — no matter what happened Tuesday.
  • And though I am a committed Christian, I believe everyone has the right to their own religion — be you Hindu, Jewish, or Muslim, I believe there are infinite paths to accepting Jesus Christ as your personal savior.
  • By the way, Mr. President, thank you for agreeing to be on my show. I was just as shocked as everyone here is, I promise you. How's Tuesday for you? I've got Frank Rich, but we can bump him. And I mean bump him. I know a guy. Say the word.
  • Ambassador Zhou Wenzhong, welcome! Your great country [of China] makes our Happy Meals possible!
  • I believe in pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps. I believe it is possible — I saw this guy do it once in Cirque du Soleil. It was magical.
  • Who's Britannica to tell me that the Panama Canal was built in 1914? If I want to say that it was built in 1941, that's my right as an American.
  • And I just like the guy. He's a good joe. Obviously loves his wife, calls her his better half, and polls show America agrees.

58th Primetime Emmy Awards

Good evening, godless sodomites.
Shrine Auditorium, Los Angeles, California (27 August 2006)
[presenting the award for best reality/competition show]
Jon Stewart: Thank you very much, it's a pleasure to be here tonight.
Stephen Colbert: Good evening, godless sodomites.
Stewart: [pause] What're you — what're you doing?
Colbert: I'm bringing the truth, Jon. We're in Hollywood, the belly of the beast.
Stewart: You can't just — you can't just read the prompter?
Colbert: I'm reading the prompter in here. [points to his heart] You can read that pablum.
Stewart: Award-show banter is not pablum! [reading from the prompter; reluctantly] "Reality television celebrates the human condition... by [mumbling] illuminating what's extraordinary in the ordinary person."
Colbert: [firmly] It warps the mind of our children and weakens the resolve of our allies.
Stewart: [still mumbling] "The results are often dramatic and always unexpected. We're here to honor achievement in that category."
Colbert: By giving you a goooolden idol to worship! [points at the giant Emmy statue next to the stage] KNEEL BEFORE YOUR GOD, BABYLON!
Stewart: This is, uh... this is about the Manilow thing, isn't it?
Colbert: I lost to BARRY MANILOW! Barry Manilow! I lost to the Copa Cabana! Singing and dancing is not "performing"! Wolverine I could've lost to — he's got claws for hands!
Stewart: All right.
Colbert: Can I hold one of yours?
Stewart: No! The nominees are...

Unsourced

Quotes about Colbert

He was always the smartest guy in the room, and he was always smart enough not to let you know he was the smartest guy in the room.
  • He's like a living wall of encyclopedias that like to drink beer.
    • Paul Dinello, quoted in Current Biography article, (November 2006)
  • Part of the joy of being in character is being able to get away with things others cannot. Though a lot of that is that [he] is so high on Nyquil you never know what he's going to do.
  • He's able to create a universe where something surreal happens on the program that seems ordinary, and all of a sudden the absurd appears not mundane but expected, organic... So he can have a conversation with Richard Holbrooke and Willie Nelson and it all makes perfect sense and yet it couldn't appear anywhere else without appearing burlesque. Somehow he has managed to create a fake world that has impacted and found standing in the real world.
  • The thing about Colbert is he's fucking brilliant... He was always the smartest guy in the room, and he was always smart enough not to let you know he was the smartest guy in the room.
    • Scott Wherry, a long-time friend, in Vanity Fair (October 2007)

See also

External links

Wikipedia
Wikipedia has an article about:

Simple English


Stephen Colbert is an American actor and comedian. He was born on May 13, 1964 in Washington, DC. He is the host of The Colbert Report on Comedy Central.[1] Colbert uses a special form of comedy called satire to make fun of politicians and the news media.

On The Colbert Report (which he pronounces IPA:[ˌkɔl'beɹ ɹəpɹ] to make the words sound the same), he pretends to be a right-wing talk show host. He likes to ask his guests very embarrassing questions that make it seem that he is a serious far right-wing conservative who is also not very smart. His TV personality centers on the idea that if enough people believe something, it will be true. This is largely based on conservative host Bill O'Reilly. In real life, Colbert is a liberal Democrat.

Many famous American politicians and people in the news media agree to appear on his show because it is very popular. Colbert started as a comedy writer and performer for many other programs, such as The Daily Show and the Strangers with Candy movie, both also on Comedy Central.

He has also voiced Phil Ken Sebben and Reducto in Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law.

He grew up in South Carolina and went to Northwestern University.

References

Other websites








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