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Review of the Colbert Report

The Colbert Report is a television shown several times a day, Monday through Thursday.  Its official time slot is 11:30 pm EST.   It is on the basic cable network, Comedy Central.  The star and host of the show is Stephen Colbert. He is a man with neatly combed slightly wavy  brown hair, matching eyes. He looks like a right wing Clark Kent.  He showcases his resemblance to the alter ego of the DC comic hero, Superman, with the super hero video game character, “Tek Jensen”   The show is pronounced in Pseudofrench as the ColBARE RePOR.  Stephen Colbert as Stephen ColBARE.  This phony French accent is carried into some parts of the show. This is particularly true of the Spor Repor (Sports Report).   Stephen Colbert plays an ultra conservative, know it all windbag.  The show is thirty minutes long minus commercials. It starts out with a red, white and blue painted eagle soaring down upon the audience.  The set is done too in USA patriotic colors.  It is to me very dramatic and very gaudy.  Its meant in a good natured way.  

There are different sections to each of the broadcasts.  However not every episode includes every segment.  In other words there are various parts and each show may include different elements.  One commonality in most every Colbert Report is there are two guests.  One is the main guest.  That is the main guest is interviewed significantly longer than the other one.  The major guest is the main one  and is invariably at the last ten minutes or so of the show.   He consistently begins the show with mock commentary on the day’s news.

To me, as far as interviewing people, the comedy show host, is far from the conventional interviewer.  He kind of reminds me of the antagonistic talk show hosts of the seventies, Joe Pyne, only not nearly as confrontational.  Nor does Colbert come close to being as controversial.   Yet there is still a touch of the gotcha, lets see her/him squirm mentality to a much lesser degree.   The interviewee must be familiar with Colbert’s interviewing style in order to be able to successfully deal with the quite unconventional interviews.     

Some of the segments are “Tip of the Hat, Wag of the Finger.  This is where Stephen either praises or condemns whatever he feels like praising or condemning at the moment.  There’ s “Yahweh or No way” where he weighs in if something in the news or news media was sacreligious.  There’s the “Whose not honoring me now?”.   There’s the fallback position where the comic host  supposedly explores back up employment in case his show is canceled.  Then there is the “Cheating Death with Dr. Stephen T. Colbert.     There’s a sketch referring to extra rich people.   A favorite section with many Colbert Report, Colbert Nation fans is the word.  This is where he chooses a word, phrase or sentence.   He makes some comments that invariably ends with the “word”.  In the meantime as he speaks,  counterwords are shown on screen  that counteract what he is saying. Trust me, the result is usually hilarious.   One of the most popular segments  is the “Threat Down.”   This is where the host chimes in on what proposes are threats to the US.  Of course this is meant in fun.  However the way he tells of these so called threats can be really sidesplittingly funny.

There are not that many recurring characters. There is the time where there’s a mock debate between Stephen Colbert and Steve Colbert. It is where proper conservative Stephen ColBARe debates down to earth nice guy Steve Colbert.   One that comes to my  mind is Estephan Colberto.  The South of the Border, ala Mexico version of Stephen Colbert.

One of my favorite lines is this is the first installment of my long running series.  On the one hand I suppose one can say how can it be the first installment of a long running series if its the first installment?  Or perhaps one can read the statement as one of optimism.  That is as the first installment as hopefully “my long running series.” 

Stephen Colbert invented the term truthiness and that’s the truth.  The term truthiness refers to wikipedia.com.  Its a web site in case one is unfamiliar with it, where people can write on practically every topic and later edit their own entry, wikipage.  The problem is as Colbert pointed out with his neologism, Truthiness,  there is no way to see how truthful, accurate the info truly is.  Truthiness definition by the Comedy Central TV host is the following:  Truthiness is basically a gut feeling something is true without backing up one believes is true with checking out the facts.  

The show usually shows the host on his left side since his right ear is slightly deformed.  This is because when he was a boy, a tumor was removed from his right ear.    He is deaf in that  ear since his eardrum was removed. The reason for the removal was because of  a tumor.  This occured when he was around eight years old.  

Stephen Colbert got his start as a commentator on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart.  The main difference between the Colbert’s show and Stewarts, to me is this.   Jon Stewart uses  a bunch of other correspondents on his show.    Stephen Colbert’s show is its him and that’ s it.  He does the entire show himself.    There is nobody else there for him.  The responsibility is all on him to entertain  us.

Stephen Colbert usually tapes the show in his television studio in New York City.  There are times he goes on the road. Some places he’s taped are Vancouver Canada for the 2008 winter Olympics and Philadelphia, PA for the PA primary 2008 presidential primary.  Specifically the shows were done from the Annenburg communication center of the University of PA.  There are other on location filmings too.   This October 2010 there is planned shows from the US capitol, Washington DC.  Here is where Stephen Colbert plans to hold his rally “Keep Fear Alive”     

Mock conservative commentator Stephen Colbert testified on US immigration at a US congressional hearing. It was specifically at the US House Judiciary Committee on immigration, refuges, border control, international law.  Despite its rather cumbersome title, the congressional hearing was basically on illegal immigrants.    The topic was on immigration reform.  He talked specifically on the plight of farm laborers.   These people are mostly men of Mexican descent.  It was particularly  San Jose California Democratic Representative Zoe Lofgren invitation, to the comic, that resulted in the comic speaking before congress. Lofgren asked the TV personality to talk solely on the plight of migrant farm workers.  The member of congress is the head of the subcommittee on immigration. 

The controversies regarding his testimony were several.  One of them was faux right wing news pundit justified in being called to testify?  Another was not speaking as his real self, but in the character of his “Comedy Central” TV show, Colbert Report.  He volunteered to be a farm worker for the “Take Our Jobs” campaign.  For the record he was of only sixteen who did so.    There was the question of was he qualified to talk.   Many politicos saw his only connection to the issue was his his temporary stint as a US farm worker on his broadcast.  Conversely there were those who claimed that Stephen Colbert made it possible for much more of the public getting the information, than if he wasn’t part of the hearings.  Colbert’s participation in the hearings went viral on the internet in a huge way.  There were millions of views of the videos of Stephen Colbert’s testimony.

The “Take our jobs” campaign, whose web site is www.takeourjobs.orgstates its purpose as twofold.  First to highlight the plight of  farm workers.  Then to remind the rest of the US, that the vast majority of the fruits, vegetables,  we put on our tables, is picked by undocumented laborers.  In other words, illegal workers.  Their point being that while these people, mostly men are here, illegally, they perform a valuable service by picking our produce.  Why legal immigrants and US citizens, for the most part, pick these foods was demonstrated by the dismal count of those who volunteered to “take our jobs.”

Did Stephen Colbert deserve to talk at those hearings?  Was he merely doing it for publicize his show?  Was he merely a pest of himself, wasting the congress people’s time?     Or was there a method to his madness?  By madness I mean as part of the old expression. I don’t mean the term literally.   Stephen Colbert knows exactly what he’s doing.  His talk was on his duration of one day as a US farm worker.  He seemed to make the most of his few hours of farm labor experience and parlayed it into cunning publicity for a very good cause.

Congressman John Conyers, Democrat from Michigan, requested Colbert write down his testimony and leave.  His thought was congress was for congress.  For the record some Republicans echoed Conyers sentiments too on the TV how being inappropriate  of the Cable TV personality participating in the hearings.   However the reality  was the hearing was broadcast much more so, then if the standup,  never testified.  While Conyers certainly had a point, he  didn’t realize that it was Colbert’s speech that caused the great increase in publicity that without, Colbert, would have been dismally covered.   There are those who say there would be no coverage.  I don’t know if that’s true.  I can just say that the comedian being there, certainly made many more Americans know of the hearing and the people who testified there. 

One definite benefit of Colbert being there was, in my humble opinion, the hearing would not been covered in the news media as extensively as it was.  Otherwise without him it wouldn’t be probably seen only on C-Span and brief five minute clips on the nightly news.  Nothing against C-Span but its far from the most watched Cable station.  Plus millions don’t have access to cable TV where they live.   The result was there was significantly more news coverage.

Lastly, Stephen Colbert, a devout Roman Catholic paraphrased Matthew 25:40,  saying”Whatever you do for the least of my brothers” By the way the rest of the quote is “You did it to me.”  Me is Jesus Christ.  The quote is from the New American Standard Bible updated, the most literal Bible in existence. Literal means closest to the original Biblical languages, word for word translation.

Lastly there is a Facebook page for the Colbert Report.  It includes links to information, videos, upcoming events, and forums.