Stephen Colbert

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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.

Quotes[edit]

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.
If you don't give power to the words that people throw at you to hurt you, they don't hurt you anymore — and you actually have power those people.
  • 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.
  • If you don't give power to the words that people throw at you to hurt you, they don't hurt you anymore — and you actually have power those people. … So, if you can, realize that the things that people say about you — they don't really matter — it's who you are. And the older you get, the more you'll understand that — because it gets better. And people get nicer too.

White House Correspondents' Association Dinner (2006)[edit]

Somebody pinch me.
No matter what happens to America, she will always rebound — with the most powerfully staged photo ops in the world.
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 that 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.

The O'Reilly Factor, January 2007[edit]

Stephen: I spend so much time in the world that is spinning all the time, that to be in the no-spin zone actually gives me vertigo.

Stephen: They're New York Times, Bill! They hate George Bush, of course they're gonna hate you! They're haters, Bill!

Stephen: We on my show, and by "we" I mean ME!

Stephen: Absolutely! You have to be high to understand Jon Stewart.

Stephen: I do fear bears. They're giant, marauding, Godless killing machines!

Stephen: You know what I hate about people who criticize you? They criticize what you say, but they never give you credit for how loud you say it. Or how long you say it.

Stephen: I wanna thank you for not asking me about that thing we pre-agreed you wouldn't ask me about.

58th Primetime Emmy Awards[edit]

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 golden 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...

Quotes about Colbert[edit]

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[edit]

External links[edit]

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