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Posted by on Apr 30, 2006 in At TMV | 165 comments

Colbert’s White House Correspondent Dinner Performance Underscores Irony’s Power And Delicacy

The scene: The White House Correspondent Dinner. The time: right after President George W. Bush put in a boffo performance next to a top-notch Bush impersonator. It was a hard act to follow.

But Comedy Central‘s Stephen Colbert most assuredly followed it in his irony-heavy TV persona of a TV News talk show host that seems reminiscent of a Fox News host with the initials B.O. (or, rather B.O’R.)

What followed was a study in contrasting satirical forms — the easier task with one form (the one-liner, the visual, the lines dependent on joke construction and timing)…and the tougher task with the other (heavy irony, which relies on shared assumptions)..

The result: Bush & his new performing bud brought down the house with a much “safer”and traditional form of self-effacing political humor, while Colbert’s edgier Comedy Central-style humor clearly turned off some members of the audience and — Editor and Publisher suggests — perhaps Bush and his wife Laura.

Links to his performance are HERE.

You could see it if you watched it live (we did): while Colbert got laughs, cutaway shots showed some members of the audience unlaughing or seemingly unamused. If in show biz you measure the success of a comedy set by the duration and volume of laughs, Bush & impersonator were a smash. By THAT standard, Colbert wasn’t since he got (with a few exception) mostly softer “titters.”

Yet, in terms of content, Colbert’s satire was more biting, had a message and was far less playful — more akin to what you’d hear in a point-of-view “set” in a comedy club. And irony is always a tougher task.

The Internet term for irony is “snark.” If done poorly it can veer into the area of clumsiness and die a painful death (that seemed to be the consensus about radio talk show host Don Imus’ routine at the dinner 10 years ago.). Colbert’s routine didn’t go that route but clearly some audience members either didn’t share his assumptions, or didn’t like him sharing them in public with Bush sitting there — or didn’t like to be put in a position where they would laugh and show all the world that they shared them.

As E&P reports:

A blistering comedy “tributeâ€? to President Bush by Comedy Central’s faux talk show host Stephen Colbert at the White House Correspondent Dinner Saturday night left George and Laura Bush unsmiling at its close…

…Colbert, who spoke in the guise of his talk show character, who ostensibly supports the president strongly, urged the Bush to ignore his low approval ratings, saying they were based on reality, “and reality has a well-known liberal bias.â€?

That was still one of the more gentle moments. MORE:

He attacked those in the press who claim that the shake-up at the White House was merely re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. “This administration is soaring, not sinking,â€? he said. “They are re-arranging the deck chairs–on the Hindenburg.â€?

Colbert told Bush he could end the problem of protests by retired generals by refusing to let them retire. He compared Bush to Rocky Balboa in the “Rocky� movies, always getting punched in the face—“and Apollo Creed is everything else in the world.�

Turning to the war, he declared, “I believe that the government that governs best is a government that governs least, and by these standards we have set up a fabulous government in Iraq.”

That was one point where you could feel a chill from part of the audience. AND:

He noted former Ambassador Joseph Wilson in the crowd, as well as “Valerie Plame.” Then, pretending to be worried that he had named her, he corrected himself, as Bush aides might do, “Uh, I mean… Joseph Wilson’s wife.” He asserted that it might be okay, as prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald was probably not there.

Colbert also made biting cracks about missing WMDs, “photo ops� on aircraft carriers and at hurricane disasters, and Vice President Cheney shooting people in the face.

Observing that Bush sticks to his principles, he said, “When the president decides something on Monday, he still believes it on Wednesday – no matter what happened Tuesday.”

That seemed to be the point of no return where you could sense a kind of nervousness in one part of the audience.

Also lampooning the press, Colbert complained that he was “surrounded by the liberal media who are destroying this country, except for Fox News. Fox believes in presenting both sides—the president’s side and the vice president’s side.” He also reflected on the good old days, when the media was still swallowing the WMD story.

Addressing the reporters, he said, “You should spend more time with your families, write that novel you’ve always wanted to write. You know, the one about the fearless reporter who stands up to the administration. You know– fiction.”

He claimed that the Secret Service name for Bush’s new press secretary is “Snow Job.” Colbert closed his routine with a video fantasy where he gets to be White House Press Secretary, complete with a special “Gannonâ€? button on his podium. By the end, he had to run from Helen Thomas and her questions about why the U.S. really invaded Iraq and killed all those people.

The video was perhaps the smoothest part of the segment, since it was less dependent on immediate audience reponse. If a comedian reads a phone book and gets huge laughs his material was great. If a comedian reads clever, witty, material with a strong message and the response is medium some will say it wasn’t as clever as the phone book.

As Colbert walked from the podium, when it was over, the president and First Lady gave him quick nods, unsmiling, and left immediately.

E&P’s Joe Strupp, in the crowd, observed that quite a few sitting near him looked a little uncomfortable at times, perhaps feeling the material was a little too biting–or too much speaking “truthiness” to power.

Asked by E&P after it was over if he thought he’d been too harsh, Colbert said, “Not at all.” Was he trying to make a point politically or just get laughs? “Just for laughs,” he said. He said he did not pull any material for being too strong, just for time reasons.

Indeed, you didn’t get a sense any of it was pulled — or that Colbert pulled any punches.

It’s just that the Bush routine’s Bob Hope-style, classic stand-up humor, resembling a tame Saturday Night Live sketch was far less risky and an easier laugh generator that irony-laced humor aimed at getting laughs via satirical points. The first style requires writers and perhaps a session with a comedy coach; the other requires a bit of professional courage since there’s a risk the irony could be unappreciated by part of the audience that doesn’t share its pointed assumptions.

Did Colbert bomb? Absolutely not. But he’ll likely have some verbal bombs aimed at him, particularly from some radio and cable talk show hosts.

Bush’s performance will be re-run on some shows for the next few days due to its entertainment value; Colbert’s will be re-run and discussed because of how it was received by some in the audience, because it’s dagger-sharp message has some news value and because he was willing to take a risk at doing the kind of satire he did…where he did it.


Ed Morrissey says Bush & Bush Clone were great but Colbert bombed:

Initially Fox News pulled away for a couple of minutes of useless analysis, but the anchor of the broadcast took viewers back to the presentation because, in her words, Steve Colbert “never fails to make us laugh.” Fox then broadcast three of the most laugh-free minutes of comedy seen on national television since Chevy Chase fancied himself as the new Johnny Carson. Colbert barely garnered even polite laughter for his banal and obvious schtick, and eventually Fox returned to its obviously embarrassed anchor. Now that was funny.

The Democratic Daily Blog offers a transcript of Colbert’s remarks and writes: “Sounds like a good time must have been had by all… except the President.”

Taylor Marsh: “He created quite a ruckus. Even First Lady Laura Bush got miffed, which was obvious at the end. She walked right past Colbert. There’s more at Editors and Publishers. Colbert put together a tough routine, though I didn’t catch the whole speech. But nobody was spared from what I caught, with Helen Thomas offering the closing act, which was priceless. It will be interesting when people start weighing in.”

James Joyner: “Frankly, while I only found a couple of the lines particularly funny, I didn’t find any of the material itself over the line. It’s not like the Don Imus performance a few years back. The problem was the delivery, which was very heavy and somewhat angry. A lighter touch would have made it go over much better and probably garnered more laughter as well.”

Wax Banks: “Colbert spoke at the White House Correspondents Dinner this weekend. It’s one of the more daring comedy routines I’ve heard, delivered straight to the faces of the people it’s lampooning, pulling no punches. Bush was there and allegedly wasn’t happy at all about the performance. Apparently no one was happy, at least not outwardly – there’s hardly any laughter at some pretty cutting jokes. But that’s no surprise. Bravo to Colbert (who did the whole speech in character).”

Riehl World View:

I’d agree – it was embarrassing to watch. Don’t know as I have ever watched Comedy Central, let alone his show, or that I ever will, now. Especially on the heels of the cartoon cowardice they displayed. From what I have read around, I didn’t take Colbert for a complete moron with little if any talent, class, style, or judgment at all…..Basically, it struck me as high school, or first year college level in terms of timing, topic and delivery. Yes, I know, a Lib will say I’m just expressing sour grapes because of the embarrassment Colbert presented for President Bush. But I am really being quite serious.

Enrevanche: “Last night, however, my man Stephen Colbert was the keynote speaker… and having watched his scathing, subversive performance this morning via downloaded BitTorrent video, and seeing the audience’s visibly stunned lack of response, I have to say that Colbert is my nominee for Man of the Year…The politico-journalist-complex hacks in the audience were mostly too stunned to laugh; the reaction shots that C-SPAN cut into the performance are absolutely priceless.”

–Allapundit at the new site Hot Air:

Tough night for Colby, who must have regarded this gig as a chance to play the Super Bowl on his home field…In Colbert’s defense, he might not have been playing for laughs. The dissident posture is very important to our friends on the left; if SC had kept things light and wasted his opportunity to speak “truthâ€? to power, they’d have crucified him for it. As it is, the moonbats will be building statues of him tomorrow. To paraphrase another delusional comedian who wasn’t as funny as he thought he was, better to be Kos for a night than a schmuck for a lifetime.

PSoTD: “Oh, he bombed? Right. That’s why everyone’s talking about it today. That’s why he’s being championed at half the blogosphere and belittled in the other half – because he bombed. No, Colbert’s comments have a life that will extend the remainder of Bush’s life. When GWB II dies (or goes to jail), think anyone will remember any of the lines of Steve Bridges [the Bush impersonator] last night? Hardly. Bush? No. Think Colbert’s lines will resurface.”

Michelle Malkin: “Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert, the featured comedian, fell flat…”

Tennessee Guerilla Women: “Colbert ripped the Great Decider into miniscule bloody shreds. Only a few feet away from Colbert, the president’s splotched and botoxy red face appeared to be in imperial pain.”

Ann Althouse:

I love Colbert, but it was a little scary watching him do his “Colbert Report” character outside of his brilliantly comical studio set that frames him as a ridiculous right-wing blowhard. We love the humor in context, but when the targets of the humor are there in the room with him, we can’t dissolve into hilarity…

…Wasn’t it awful to perform without laughs? Maybe he should have filed the edges off a couple of jokes, but, basically, he did what he had to do to maintain his credibility with his real audience, those who watch “The Colbert Report.” And we’ll remember the horrible laughlessness of that night and marvel at the steely nerve of Stephen Colbert.

Trinity of One: “Stephen Colbert is my hero. Last night, he gave this amazing, brave speech at the White House Correspondents Dinner. He excoriated Bush and most of Washington–it’s breath-taking.”

Right Winged:

Colbert’s performance was just extremely weak, and as I said he totally bombed. I don’t base this on my reaction to the jokes… I base it on the dead silence for roughly 90% of his monologue, in a room full of liberals. Setting aside the fact that he had hardly any funny jokes, he also did go a little too far in his “jokes” in trashing the President who was seated only a few feet away. It just got worse and worse. The funniest part was probably when he pointed out Plame and Wilson (again, huh?) in the audience and then faked concern for “outting” her. Anyway, I was shocked at Colbert’s performance. Usually the guest entertainer is the best part… “You gotta love this guy. Talk about balls.”

U.S. Politics has some more reaction.


Some reviewers believe as Ann Althouse wrote, that he had to stay in keeping with his character on the Report or risk losing his fan base. I disagree because the Colbert personna on Comedy Central affects an almost politically androgynous manner. Republicans like him because although he is being satirical, the satire leaves room for viewers who support President Bush to find something to like. That was lost last night. The video bit with Colbert trying frantically to escape aged reporter Helen Thomas was the one funny part, but it came too late to save Stephen Colbert. The audience, made up of movie stars and famous athletes and major news people were mostly silent during his time at the podium which says a lot about how he did. We will probably continue to watch the Colbert Report, but not quite as often and not with the same affection for the man.

Intoxination: “I guess when you look in the mirror you don’t always like what you see and this administration is no different. Colbert is great at his job of playing a conservative talking head. Things like blaming a “liberal media”, and everyone but the administration is EXACTLY what they do. They will not take blame unless it is something that might give them a little “political” boost. Well George – sorry “your” dinner was “messed up” by this. Oh wait – it isn’t your dinner. It is Washington’s dinner and the correspondents’ dinner. Grow up and get over it.”

Rising Hegemon: “Ever try to do stand up at an indictment? That’s what Colbert did last night at the White House Correspondents Dinner. His routine didn’t get big laughs because it came at a self-inflated, self-congratulatory dinner which did nothing less than praise the “bravery” and “dedication” of the White House Press Reporters.”

Speak Speak also offers a transcript and writes: “In terms of the intensity of roasting Bush, things started out genial with Bush laughing, and then as Colbert said that 68% of Americans disapprove of the job Bush is doing, Bush seemed to be enjoying himself less.”

Planet Doug: “Man, this was funny but really edgy. It’s like doing comedy about Iran in Iran in front of clerics.”

blony: “The man who had no trouble lampooning a dead prisoner (more at DKOS) seems to have lost his sense of humor. Seems Stephen Colbert got a bit close to the bone – the truth, that is – at the White House Correspondent Dinner…It has become a surreal fact of life that the most truthful and accurate analysis in the media of the Bush administration has been coming from comedians such as Colbert or Bill Maher. Colbert is seriously funny even when talking about his own humor.”

The Civil Engine: “First of all, I have to say that the guy has some serious stones. The crowd was mostly silent, yes, but it was only because Colbert didn’t give the usually nods, nudges and deference to power that are so common at these types of events….I watched along with my sister (a Republican) and my girlfriend (a Moderate) and they were both in tears from laughing so hard. Does that mean we all have a poor sense of humor? No. It means that we can see Colbert’s schtick for what it is: Brilliant and brave.”

Shakespeare’s Sister:

Throughout the entire thing, he would periodically look evenly at Bush, holding his gaze and addressing him directly as “Mr. President.â€? Bush looked back at him with a face of stone (save for one time when Colbert flubbed a set-up). Standing in front of a room full of people who didn’t, couldn’t, laugh, letting them have it with everything he’s got, sweating bullets, Colbert would look dead at Bush and never blink… I can’t recall anyone so forthrightly addressing the president like that, holding such a harsh mirror in front of his nose, except for perhaps Colbert’s obvious co-conspirator Helen Thomas, whose life has been spent questioning presidents.

Pam’s House Blend: “He smoked this administration, completely scorched it to an ash. And Dear Leader and Laura weren’t laughing.”

–Bloggledygook has a MUST READ post HERE with a different perspective from many others on the left, center and right. We won’t quote it because it would take it out of context. Read it all.

Due to travel today we may not be able to add more to this roundup. Please click on the TRACKBACKS to this post to read more reaction to the Colbert routine.

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Copyright 2006 The Moderate Voice
  • Of course half of the audience didn’t laugh! Colbert was not making fun of them. He was indicting them.

  • kevin lyda

    Colbert’s audience was “we the people” and history.

    Both do/will approve.

    By and large the people in the room are part of the problem. I don’t care if they’re made uncomfortable or weren’t sufficiently entertained.

    Several thousand American families are uncomfortable every evening as they look at an empty seat at their dinner table. Thousands more are uncomfortable due to the injured soldier who returned home.

    Loads of people in that room did not do their jobs. Not just Bush, but the press as well.

    You reviewed Colbert’s performance as if their opinion mattered.

    Shame on you.

  • The amazing thing about Colbert is that his style isn’t so much a recreation of other comedians’ styles who opted for social commentary as their playing field. He’s no Lenny Bruce … he’s a far better new creation. That individuality is what helps set him apart. About the closest example I can come up with was the Al Franken routine where he portrayed an optimistic Dukakis supporter announcing immenent victory in 1988. But that was a routine Franken did but a few times (to my knowledge – twice: once to hilarious effect on SNL and another to a morbidly silent crowd of Dukakis supporters on E-night ’08).

  • blucaller

    I thought your review was positively glowing and thoughtful, considering the beating I’m expecting the attendees to give Steven Colbert after their wine wears off. These are ACCESS JOURNILISTS (‘cept Helen Thomas – Bless Her Heart!), remember?What a bunch of spineless wimps they were. And Are.
    Nice Work.

  • Kellryan

    Bless Colbert for that performance. It was absolutely called for in every respect. Each uncomfortable moment was a gem, an indictment of the very audience squirming before him (and, of course, at the table onstage.) So brilliant. Hopefully someone will post the entire video from MSNBC including the split-screen shots that were missing from the ‘SPAN version. Hint, hint.

  • mike748293143522

    I caught the last half of Stephen’s performance while channel surfing and laughed so hard that I stayed tuned to CSPAN for the entire rebroadcast of the dinner. It was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen! Colbert really must have “muchos huevos grandes” to deliver material like that right in front of the president! Too bad the journalists in the audience were too afraid to give the material the roars it deserved; as Joe pointed out, doing so would reveal that they share the same “liberal” (read: held by all but the extreme right) assumptions. If you missed his performance, catch one of the re-runs CSPAN will surely show over the next few days.

  • pqrynl

    I finally saw the whole thing on C-SPAN rerun. WOW!

    I felt like Colbert lost a little nerve during the truly cutting sections, but did what had to be done. This is what we’ve come to, the only one who can speak the truth to this President is the jester: very Shakespearean.

    The first time I saw the short film at the end, I just thought it was funny but silly [I’m an idiot.] Upon review, the message is actually very clear and reiterates the theme of the speech: The truth is the truth and you cannot deny it, you cannot spin it, you cannot laugh your way out of it, and you cannot escape it, Mr. President.

    Brilliant Stuff!

  • jon hall

    Colbert comments have truful ring the crowd was applaed perhaps afraid to laugh at the truthfullness of his dialog; however this could be new spin from the white house because they new he would let it roll when given a chance remember Bush has nothing to loose in the polls if you missed this one try to catch a re run it was that good … jon hall toccoa ga USA

  • pqrynl

    Healthy torrent of the whole dinner with almost full resolution [from C-SPAN coverage]:

    Joe, please remove this comment if the link is any sort of liability.

  • Funke S.

    Gotta give it to Colbert for having the balls to say what needed to be said (though wish he’d also gotten in some digs at the democratic leadership). I don’t usually find Colbert funny, and I didn’t find his routine funny, either. On point, yes; but funny? No. I much prefer the Daily Show correspondents and Bill Maher to Colbert. That video was so dull that I got up to microwave a can of pork and beans ten seconds into the Helen Thomas segment.

    Funke S., Pittsburgh, PA

  • Charles Jordan

    I didn’t think it was very funny but it was sure bitting. The press is the one group who don’t like to be made fun of and Colbert really layed into them. MSNBC, the Washington Post, and CNN articles talk more about the President’s speech and the article only have a couple sentences about Colbert. It wasn’t funny because it was true. I’m glad he did it.

  • Rachel Z

    I watch this event every year. That will go down as the most polarizing audience reaction between the Presidential speech and the invited guest’s speech. The President’s comedy bit just hit all the right notes with the audience. Colbert’s biting sarcasm got little to no reaction. And the big close: a video segment that wouldn’t end but did die. I agree with all: that took guts. While I loved and preferred Colbert, his performance drained the energy out of the room. There is a fine line between performance art and totally bombing. I choose the former but certainly accept anyone who believes it to be the latter. He killed the buzz and I applaud him for his courage.

  • I’m willling to stipulate that I only saw about three minutes of Colbert, but the three minutes I saw was painful. He very much miscalculated the tenor of the evening; it is meant for self-deprecating humor, for everyone to poke fun at themselves, not their opponents. People didn’t laugh because (a) Colbert wasn’t funny, and (b) his act was not in keeping with the spirit of the event.

    As a performer yourself, I doubt seriously that you make it a routine to blame the audience when the act flops, Joe.

  • Speaking from purely a general performers perspective, I can see where you are coming from. However, with all due respect Captain Ed, I doubt Colbert felt his role was to entertain the audience. He doesn’t need to prove anything, especially on a stage as small as CSPAN. We are applauding him because he stood up and represented, the people, in a time when no one is looking out for us. His satire angered an audience because it was satire, a.k.a cold hard truth conveyed wittingly. The guilty rarely find the truth entertaining.


  • Also, people weren’t obliged to laugh at Colbert, whereas they most assuredly were obliged to laugh at the President (or his approved “impersonator”), for the same reason a judge’s jokes are always funny to the lawyers appearing before them or your boss’s jokes are always funny… no matter how many times you’ve heard them. Hence, there really is no particular significance to the distinction.

    For Colbert to have the balls to give that routine shows us that we are talking about greatness of the highest magnitude.

  • johnny b

    Go to Fox News, ABC News, CNN websites . . . all talk about the President’s great performance and give so little attention to the elephant that was in the room last night: Stephen Colbert’s speech of truthiness to power. Those websites are making his point, that the mainstream media and this administration are in bed with one another (along with the military industrial complex and Corporate America) and it is killing this wonderful country of ours. God Bless Colbert and America . . . its high time we take out country back.

  • BrianOfAtlanta

    The odd thing is that Colbert said he did it “just for laughs”. Maybe he was being untruthful when he said that, but he certainly bombed if that was truly his goal.

  • RJJ

    Bombed? In a sense. It was kamikaze comedy.

  • I thought Colbert was brilliant. It was some of the most honest, biting political satire I’ve seen in a long time. I’m sorry the press and the president didn’t take kindly to it, but so what!
    This is what Colbert does, and I’m wondering who is going to be out of work tomorrow for hiring him.
    Did these people really think that Colbert was another Bill O’Reilly? Don’t they get the fact he mocks them everyday on his show?

    Colbert has the balls of a Grizzly, and I am absolutely smitten with him. About time someone did this.

  • Robert Bell

    It would be interesting to see what the South Park guys would do in a similar situation. They too don’t seem to mind pissing off anyone and everyone if the mood strikes them.

    There’s a certain self-referential genius about “speaking truthiness to power” – it’s almost a koan.

  • Of course, Colbert was immediately arrested and tortured until he issued a full retraction. Then, his lifeless body was dumped on a side street near the canal in Georgetown.

    Truthiness to power. What a load. Edgy. What a farce. Makng Bush (or the big, bad, frightful media) look foolish is hardly cutting edge. It’s like expecting laughs for pointing out that Cyrano has a big nose.

    I find Colbert to be one of the funniest people around, but he is hardly courageous. He’s speaking in front of the American president, in America and has no fear of reprisal. Had he been an Iraqi comedian making fun of Saddam back in the day, now that would have been courageous.

  • BCrago66

    The phrase “speaking truth to power” implies that the speaker displays personal courage in placing himself at some personal risk in order to communicate some previously suppressed viewpoint. But Colbert lives under the unbrella of the 1st Amendment, is at zero risk of losing his job at Comedy Central, and was speaking boilerplate liberal-lefty talking points which much or most of the audience agreed with. It didn’t take courage. It was weaselly, predicable pap.

    The audience of reporters didn’t laugh because Colbert’s delivery was poor, and because the pap he was speaking was too revelatory on an evening when people are not supposed to reveal their partisanship too openly.

    But Colbert knew the self-regarding reporter-liberal class would, the next day, praise him for his alleged courage (see the Editor and Publisher article and comments above) and that, apparently, was what he was playing for.

  • mburns

    I thought it was great, but it is so typical that the MSM will ignore it. They always kowtow to the right and ignore uncomfortable truths. Colbert wasn’t just lampooning the President, he was knocking the press for being complicit. And Colbert’s reaction was EXACTLY what Stewart got from the Hollywood crowd. Colbert and Stewart do their comedy for us – not the elite, not the powerful, not the insiders. And the elite won’t ever like it – it hits to close to home.

  • Encouleru

    Bottom Line: The TRUTH hurts.

  • jonathan jonathan jonathan

    Watching Colbert’s performance I was reminded of the recent movie Good Night and Good Luck and in comparison the McCarthyism of the 50’s and today’s more numerous abuses of power. The exchanges of Edward R. Murrow and McCarthy pale in comparison to watching Colbert BODYSLAM the current president, but really Bush deserves it and the media for that matter. I knew that the media was a group of spineless career worried bums, but to see them snub Colbert was proof of their unworthiness to serve the American people. By the end of Colbert’s rant (which it was) I was faced with the cruel truth that America, as I knew it, is doomed if these are the entrails of our free press. Hello Fahrenheit 451.

  • Scott Smith

    I read Colbert’s bits in the newspaper today and I don’t think he was playing to the audience. This guy is an in-studio performer. He was playing to the 64% of the american people who don’t like Bush plus the 5% on the fence…showing them the hypocrisy of trying to rationalize what a great guy he is. Bush is a neo conservative with viewpoints and policies that are killing not just soldiers, but the Earth itself, not to mention america’s reputation in the world. Colbert is a great comedian for the internet age: satirical, sarcastic, and pointed. One of his main targets is MSNBC and Fox…these “news” organizations that have so much heavy right-wing bias that their arguments creak with illogic. Go Stephen!

  • Clownboat

    Whether or not Colbert’s scathing remarks were considered funny by those they indicted (and how could they have been?), one thing is certain: the night was a huge personal victory for him. If he had backed down or played it safe, nobody would be talking about it today. Now millions of Americans are discussing it. Few fans who already enjoy the show will stop watching it, and many who overlooked it will tune in to see what they were missing. I don’t think Colbert had his own career in mind when he wrote the routine, but it will likely give his ratings a solid boost.

    Personally, I can’t wait to watch the Report on Monday.

  • JP

    The fact that there are almost 30 comments here means it struck a nerve. BCrago, I couldn’t disagree more–Bravo, Colbert!

  • Kirk

    Here’s the bottom line: Colbert killed and was extremely funny if you’re a liberal or he bombed and wasn’t funny at all if you’re a conservative. As a liberal, I obviously thought he was funny and whether he got no laughs from the crowd misses the point. There were many guests there that felt uneasy because of Colbert’s indirect criticism of the president(which is the best way to do it these days). My best guess is they didn’t want to make the president feel uncomfortable if they started laughing out loud since they were invited guests. But then again, I could be wrong and Colbert was horribly unfunny… but I bet to differ.

  • Kirk

    Meant to say “beg” to differ.

  • Eural

    So “speaking truth to power” implies a personal risk that Colbert never endures? That must explain why he was speaking to AN ENTIRE ROOMFUL OF PEOPLE who spend everyday ducking that responsibility. So many of these comments are dead on – Colbert’s “moment” in our culture represents the extreme gap between the rhetoric of this administration and the reality of our world. Millions of Americans know it but their voice is regularly ignored by the very people who were present at the dinner. Only in comedy (and tragedy – such as Coretta King’s funeral) will the majority be allowed to speak. I have conservative friends who disintegrate into a blubbering mass of anger at the mention of that funeral and they will do the same here. The truth will set you free but first it will make you very very angry.

  • BCrago66

    If Colbert showed a Mo’ cartoon on his Comedy Central show (or if he even tried to, as did his South Park co-workers) then he really would have been speaking truth to power.

    But in speaking standard lib talking points which have already been repeated about a gazillion times to an ideologically sympathetic audience, what did Colbert risk? Nothing. except that he’d eventually get a little embarrassed by overpraise by blog commenters.

    BTW, just because you agree with Colbert in this instance, doesn’t make him funny. Some of what Don Imus said years ago when he roasted President Clinton was true. But Imus wasn’t funny (or interesting.) And he wasn’t courageous either, because he knew that his lame act would be consequence-free.

  • Submisquattro 055

    Colbert RULED. And still does. Who has balls like Stephen? Eh? Right. Shamed the press, and called out the Liar/Killer/Leaker-in-Chief.

    PS: I am not a Liberal. I am a human who hates liars and being used.

  • Eural

    Here’s a question for those who keep harping on Colbert’s lack of risk from making his “truthy” commentary – since he has done nothing because we have no fear of (physical?) reprisal’s in our system does that mean that we should all just stay at home and shut-up? It seems that’s the end result of your argument. Again, the majority of the media has for 6 years failed to do its job and we see the consequences in our lives every day. Colbert may not be arrested or tortured but that doesn’t stop decent American’s from speaking the truth. Or is the truth too liberal a concept for some of you? Funny, it wasn’t back in ’98.

  • Colbert didn’t risk anything. I would challenge anyone to demonstrate that his performance will turn viewers away. He knows who his audience is, and it is to them that he was working. Far from showing the courage of his convictions, he pandered to his people. Which is fine by me, actually. I won’t stop watching. But then again, I don’t see him as the savior of the country, either. Read these comments again. They are overwhelmingly positive.

    No one is saying that Colbert should shut up. I’m saying that he shouldn’t be lauded for doing what he always does. He was talking over his present audience to his larger audience. Very smart, I think. And he got just he rection he expected and wanted.

    BTW, if by poll standards 65% of Americans view Bush in a dark light, Colbert’s flame is burning at the wrong end. Scathing satire works against overwhelming public opinion, not with it.

  • Robert Bell

    BCrago66, Daniel Berczik: I actually think we should take Colbert at his word. To be clear, Colbert was most definitely NOT speaking truth to power. He was speaking truthiness, a word of his own creation, to power.

    If you stop and think for a moment, do you really believe he doesn’t know the difference between his situation and that of somebody lampooning the Mullahs in Iran or spoofing Saddam in Iraq back in the day? Do you really think someone who could cook up a character as darkly funny as his would honestly believe he has courage for doing what he did, or that he is a soul-mate to those on the left who are now crowing about what he said?

    My sense is that this a darker replay of Jon Stewart’s moment where he stepped out of character and went off on the two journalists as partisan hacks. Colbert does the same thing, except he stays in character to do it, repeating talking points of others. Perhaps the point is that if those things sound trite coming out of his idiotic blowhard character’s mouth, maybe they weren’t so smart to begin with.

  • Get the HI-RES, FULL video here (including the creepy Bush double bit):

    CSPAN Live

  • Pange

    He is the new Mark Twain. Hopefully he woke up to see another day this morning.

  • Robert Bell,

    You make a valid point, but I see it as quite close to mine. Maybe he is mocking his audience. I don’t know, and if he is, than it is a brilliant stunt. But I doubt it. I am open to being wrong, of course. I have a long, distinquished record or error.

    I also don’t know about his personal views (unlike Stewart, who is about as transparent as Sprite, but without the fizz) and I don’t care. My point is that those yelling “Colbert Rocks!” are unwittingly engaging in their own brand of satire.

  • Pange,

    Thanks for proving my point. Hilarious.

  • BCrago66

    This will be my last post on this thread, not because I imagine myself to be above the fray, but because I don’t have anything new to say, and it’s a bit self-important for me to keep blathering on under the circumstances…

    But it’s not only that Colbert faces no physical danger. He also faces no negative social consequences in his peer group, as those in the audience were in substantive agreement not only with his points against President Bush, but also with his points against the media itself.

    In case you havn’t noticed, the press has been indulging in a years-long orgy of self-recrimination for allegedly being too easy on President Bush in the run-up to the Iraq war. In an effort to redeem itself, the NYTimes fired Judy Miller (or reached a “settlement” with her,) and published national security secrets placing the citizens of the US in greater danger (e.g., surveillance of international calls, details of the CIA transport of terrorists.) The Washington Post got in on the act and published another criminal leak damaging to national security, regarding detention centers outside the US. Then the press gave these actions the highest possible professional acclaim – Pulitzer prizes.

    The lack of laughter to Colbert’s act was due to: a) his lame delivery, and b) a failure of ETIQUETTE, i.e., making partisan points in the wrong forum. And Colbert knew he would get praised from his colleagues the next day, e.g., The USA Today story, the Editor and Publisher story, many blogs including this one, etc.

    So Colbert is supposed to have balls-o’-steel because he breached etiquette and said what almost everyone in the room agreed with anyway, knowing he would would get slobber-praised for his great courage the next day. Give me a break.

  • Perhaps this explains how Colbert can look a buzzsaw in the eye:

    Comedy Central star Stephen Colbert says the deaths of his father and brothers in a plane crash started him on a career path toward comedy at an early age.

    “I think I did my best to cheer mom up,” the star of “The Colbert Report” says in an interview airing Sunday night on CBS’ “60 Minutes.”

    “After they died, nothing seemed that important to me. … I would certainly say I was detached from what was normal behavior of children around me,” he said. “It didn’t make much sense. None of it seemed very important.”

    So starting at the age of 10, Colbert began to hone his ability to mock just about anything with a straight face.

    “Acceptance, or blind acceptance — of authority is not easy for me,” says Colbert. “Nothing is sacred — not religion, nor the media, nor politicians.”

  • pqrynl

    It isn’t about courage and “truth to power.” It is that this man, Bush, has no one in his life to take him to the woodshed, no one who is confident enough to tell him the hard truths and to put him in his place. If he had someone, or we believed that he didn’t live in an impenetrable delusion, then Colbert’s routine would have been gratuitious and unfunny.

    Colbert’s attempt to use his comedic barbs to pop Bush’s bubble, to call for the press to get out their skewers, is an act worthy of admiration.

    And while Bush uses his humor to put people down for the purpose of asserting his social dominance, Colbert’s jokes were truly friendly in nature: Mr. President, get your head out of your a**.

  • Robert Bell

    Daniel: I don’t know about his views either, although according to the Daily Show’s producer, they are sort of post-right, post-left, libertarians …

    Fresh Air Interview

    As you say: “I don’t know, and if he is, than it is a brilliant stunt.”, do you remember a movie called “Absence of Malice”? There is a scene where Wilford Brimley looks Paul Newman in the eye and says something like “Are you that smart?”

    We can only wonder if Colbert is that smart, though from watching his videos, he can be very quick.

    He also reminds me a little of the Gob character in “Arrested Development”, especially the episode where he’s bragging about the price of his suit in front of his employees.

  • Pam Spaulding over at Pam’s House Blend (thanks to Glenn Greenwald for the link) notes that the commenters over at are accusing Stephen Colbert of being “unpatriotic” for daring to speak truth to Bush and his press corps servants.

    Do remember that Lucianne Goldberg is the SAME PERSON who told the New York Press tabloid, in a straight “news” interview, that Bill Clinton was “finger-fucking” his own daughter Chelsea:
    (click here and scroll halfway down) But I’ve yet to see any right-winger, and not just the drones on, take her to task for being “unpatriotic”.

  • His performance was absolutely wonderful.

    Nailed Bush and nailed the media whore media.

  • Robert,

    I love that movie. I was the only person in the theater laughing.

    Phoenix Woman,

    FWIW, I was royally pissed at what happened to Clinton. But then again, I’m not a right-winger. Although I do wish I got as much as Bill.

  • Comrade_Canada

    I thought Stephen was excellent, and I don’t care about his delivery or whether or not he was “courageous” or what a bunch of ass-kissing reporters (or anyone else for that matter) think of him. He went up and said certain things to the President that (though it didn’t take courage) it certainly took balls to do. I feel like the Bush administration is a massive fortress or a mighty wall, and no matter how much any dissenter writes or complains or demonstrates, the wall cannot be breached. But last night Bush had his guard down, and Colbert took the opportunity and knocked him flat. He made the Leader of the Free World squirm, and rightly so! If George Bush and the Press had been responsible, it wouldn’t have mattered if Colbert went up and said those things. He wouldn’t have had anything to make fun of. The government and the media have both let us down, and there is never a time when they don’t deserve to be reminded of it.

  • Comrade_Canada

    I thought Stephen was excellent, and I don’t care about his delivery or whether or not he was “courageous” or what a bunch of ass-kissing reporters (or anyone else for that matter) think of him. He went up and said certain things to the President that (though it didn’t take courage) it certainly took balls to do. I feel like the Bush administration is a massive fortress or a mighty wall, and no matter how much any dissenter writes or complains or demonstrates, the wall cannot be breached. But last night Bush had his guard down, and Colbert took the opportunity and knocked him flat. He made the Leader of the Free World squirm, and rightly so! If George Bush and the Press had been responsible, it wouldn’t have mattered if Colbert went up and said those things. He wouldn’t have had anything to make fun of. The government and the media have both let us down, and there is never a time when they don’t deserve to be reminded of it.

  • Philosophicus

    The problen for Colbert’s audience wasn’t that they didn’t share his assumptions– the problem was that they all shared his assumptions, but refuse to admit it.
    He based his whole routine on the elephant that was in the room– in fact he made the trunk and the tail part of the act.
    It wasn’t just irony– this was Swiftian satire at its best– and I’m sure the English were just as uncomfortable with Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” as the White House correspondent’s were to Colbert’s reminder to them of how Bush has castrated them.

  • kritter

    Loved his comment about “Fair and Balanced” Fox always telling two sides of an argument! Hilarious and true.

    Even if he made everyone in the room uncomfortable, at least he wasn’t kow-towing to the White House.
    That, in itself, is totally refreshing. And if it angered President and Mrs. Bush, so be it. At least they got a badly-needed dose of reality, after surrounding themselves with loyal toadies for five years.

  • owl

    Just more inappropriate behavior similar to a political rally at a funeral. Wrong time..wrong place. Similar behavior would have been if Laura had stood up and spit on all. Thankfully she is a class act and does not need to embarrass herself, even when others are spitting in her face.

    “Truth to power…what needs to be said…honest satire…truth that hurts…hard cold truth…courage…stood up and represented the people.” This is comedy? Surely you jest.

  • James Storrie

    As an entertainer entertaining the room, Colbert failed, obviously. But we and Colbert both know that this dinner is watched by a much wider audience than just the people sitting in those dinner chairs. The whole thing was a C-SPAN feature, right?

    There’s one more joke that is easy to miss because it never came out of Colbert’s mouth. It’s the reaction of his audience. It’s not often that you get to seem a room full of very self-important people get blatantly and scathingly mocked right to their faces. The ten seconds or so after the generals comment, when the camera cut to the faces of the very unamused military suits? That was pure comedic gold. Colbert sweating like a maniac as the President himself tried to glare him down? Was there anything funnier on television that entire week?

    The people in that room weren’t Colbert’s audience – the public watching the dinner on cable or YouTube were. The people in that room were his props.

  • Zjemi

    I’m glad so many bloggers are sure that only in America can a satire like Colbert’s be broadcast. I wasn’t so sure and feared that the secret service would whisk him off stage before the end. I don’t know whether I should be grateful that there still is free speech in this country or sad at yet another reminder that our government has no clue how to handle disastrous situations–although the spin in the newspapers that Bush was funny and Colbert wasn’t is a good try. Maybe the 32% will believe that along with all the other White House pronouncements about Iraq, Katrina, Guantanamo,wiretaps,Plame,…

  • Jeanne

    I was amazed at the man’s guts! I am a 77yr old woman who loves The Colbert Report- not all his fans are young people!! The people who invited him obviously underestimated his courage- but I was not at all surprised. The man is so witty and so fearless- wish he’d been around when Howard Dean was aiming at the White House- Howard could surely have used his help- maybe next time?

  • Jon Hendry

    Yeah, he bombed. He bombed with the audience like Martin Luther King, Jr. at a Klan rally.

    That doesn’t necessarily mean he was *wrong* or *unskillful*. If he made the media think twice about what they’ve been aiding and abetting, then that’s better than just making them laugh.

  • blucaller

    What’s the deal with the obcession with how much audience approval he got?
    He’d have failed at his craft if he got a great reception from that particular audience. Reminence of FOX News gloating over their ratings and trying to discredit Keith Olbermanns effectiveness.
    Laugh tracks are a dime a dozen. Genius: priceless.

  • Roy Murtishaw

    Stephen Colbert displayed remarkable courage and has earned the gratitude /admiration of the minority of us who recognized the monumental tragedy of December,2000 back-in-the-day and the awakening whordes who have only recently stopped saluting Dumbya. Unfortunately, The White House Press Association/Steno Pool largely remained brain-dead and thus, reacted as the mutant mutes they are!

  • slick

    I think many on the left are confused.
    Colbert’s job last night was to make people *LAUGH*, and in that, he was a (to use a term favoured by the anti-Bush crowd) “miserable failure”.

    It was not a time to make political statements or for debate.

    Geez..isn’t the left supposed to be loose and funny, whiel the right is supposed ot be uptight? What happened to the left’s sense of humour. Maybe it’ll return when a Dem is in the WH?

    Colbert bombed. Period. Reminded me of Letterman at the Oscars. And it’s amusing to watch the anti-Bushies spin for his lousy performance.

  • Jon Hendry

    slick writes: “It was not a time to make political statements or for debate. ”

    Yeah, because the last place to exercise your freedom of speech is at a White House press corps function.

  • Jon Hendry

    It seems like CSPAN didn’t provide an audience response audio feed during the “audition tape” portion, which made that part drag a bit and seem like it wasn’t going over well.

    On the other hand, Colbert certainly went over well with Scalia, despite greeting Scalia with a range of possibly-offensive gestures.

  • blucaller

    “STENO POOL.” thank you.

  • Dartos

    …Owl., didn’t Laura joke at the dinner last year? “But I’m proud of George. He’s learned a lot about ranching since that first year when he tried to milk the horse”

    What a lady like joke!

  • Dartos

    I failed to add the last line of her “class act” joke..
    “But I’m proud of George. He’s learned a lot about ranching since that first year when he tried to milk the horse. What’s worse, it was a male horse.”

  • denisedh

    I just want to clarify some of the reasoning about what is considered appropriate behavior for entertainers:
    1. Comedians are supposed to make their audiences laugh.
    2. Singers are supposed to “shut up and sing.”
    these expectations seem to apply when singers and comedians are criticizing Republicans. However, when actors run for office (e.g., Reagan, Arnold, Sonny Bono) I don’t recall much reaction such as “actors should be acting, not running for office.” Personally, I don’t see the problem with entertainers exercising their rights as citizens to criticize their leaders, run for office, etc. They get more attention than average citizens when they speak out or run for office, why would that make it somehow inappropriate for them to do so?

  • Of course there was no laughter. Stupid jokes–such as Bush impersonators–always get more laughs. With Colbert, the President was shown to be the humorless, arrogant man that he is. He hated Colbert because he was not in control of the act.

    And how could there be laughter when Colbert rightly left everyone but Helen Thomas and the odd guest smoldering in ashes? For my part, I laughed harder than I have in a long time.

    In one of the best routines in satire, probably in decades, Colbert–criticised at E&P and elsewhere for not ripping both the press(?) and the President in equal measure–did just that. There was no one left to laugh in the audience. Everyone who laughed were all at home. For my part I had tears in my eyes as he told journalists to go home and write that novel that’s been knocking around in their heads. Can you think of any criticism more humorous and apt than his, anything more embarrasswing for the journalists sitting there? It was genius, it was unflinching and it was relevant. That much cannot be said for Don Imus, who was simply following the crowd.

  • nudge

    Great job Colbert!

    68% of us laughed our asses off! We enjoyed the biting snark presented by a master; we enjoyed how his targets squirmed with great unease from hearing the truth, for a change, without interruption, for 30 minutes!

    Neither the preznit nor the White press copse deserve entertainment! They need to have the feet held to fire every day to force them to reverse the grave harm they have done to this country.

    Hit them with the chair!

  • SR

    I thought it a matter of Colbert’s schtick vaulting above the median IQ of that room. Scalia laffed his arse off … and, conservative though he may be, I expect he laughed because he actually UNDERSTOOD the art of irony. And the power of Truthiness. Colbert was TRUE (all puns intended) to who he is (or who his character is, at least) — why would people expect for him to have been anyone else?

  • hamletta

    I love how the wingers all turn into Emily Post the minute somebody says something they don’t like. “Inappropriate behavior!” they all sniff, reaching for the pearls.

    I scratch in your general direction, you lily-livered swine.

  • republican

    Yeah, because the last place to exercise your freedom of speech is at a White House press corps function.

    That’s exactly right! The purpose of the press is to support this country not undermine it. That’s why we have the First Amendment so people can attack bad presidents like Bill Clinton or Jimmy Carter and praise the great presidents like George Washington and George Bush. To do otherwise is to undermine our freedoms and to spit on the graves of the soldiers who died defending them.


  • blucaller

    You’re in Colbert-drag, right? Ha Ha

  • Cape Coddah

    Stephen knew exactly who is audience was and that they might not particularly like his jokes. Whoever said his routine was for the people was right on. His show and “The Daily Show” aren’t just about making fun of politics. They’re about turning flat-out lies and misinformation upside-down.

    Brilliant work!

  • Nameless

    Perhaps the question should not be, “Was he courageous?” but rather, “How afraid are the rest of us?” As I sign my post


  • Hard Tool

    First of all, it is beyond me why the organizers of the WHCD would invite Colbert to this event. Are these people really, truly so much removed from reality and believed The Colbert Report in fact is a balancing act to many other left-leaning shows on Comedy Central? This is the danger one runs into when one forgets to laugh at oneself. The Republicans are so tight-lipped and serious; they fell for a guy who played one on TV just to hyperbolize their failure.

    Colbert did what any courageous person would given the opportunity. He stuck it to the man when he had the chance and when it would count the most. Whether that is funny or not is beside the point. Both Colbert and Stewart make a good living by pointing out the absurdity of politics; Colbert by playing as part of the absurdity, Stewart by pretending as an amused outside observer. Colbert was standing in front of the folks who are primarily responsible for that absurdity and stuck it to ’em hard! And, they didn’t like it. No wonder! Neither would a magician if I revealed his tricks to the world, especially if the tricks are weak!

  • TripleH

    I’m amused by the paeans to Colbert’s “courage” and “balls.” What was the danger here? That someone would execute him for criticizing a political leader? That his tongue would be cut out?

    No, that kind of stuff only happened in Iraq under Saddam, or anywhere in the world where someone dares show a mere (certain) cartoon. While his chance to effect the former is now gone forever thanks to American troops and the guy Colbert was so brave to go after last night, I’ll pass on commenting on Colbert’s stunning boldness until he shows the latter on his TV show.

    Get over yourselves already.

  • Tanklv

    Of course it took courage!

    Those who are in denial of this fact need to remember one fact:

    How many times have you hear ANYONE in the media or even on the Democratic Side use the word “LIAR” to describe our dictator wanna be and WAR CRIMINAL?

    NEVER is the answer!

    How many times has he addressed only safe audiences – even pre-screened military? ALWAYS!

    It take extreme courage to call out in public that THE EMPEROR HAS NO CLOTHES – and to point out that, yes, his shit does indeed stink!

  • Anthony Rock

    Different point of view:

    I think Colbert should be applauded, but not lauded or put on a pedestal like he has been.

    Yes, in the internet age where the only appropriate place for criticisms is behind the stone wall of internet anonymity, I think he showed a fierce display of cojones by directly associating himself with his comments, and doing what very few in this country have been able to do since the end of the Clinton administration: Not resort to online muck-raking.

    For those opposed to Colbert, I would like to know: He showed a lack of class in the traditional sense by not being cordial. The Trojan Horse showed a lack of class by hiding soldiers inside it. It got the job done, and sometimes you need to get your hands dirty. If he had done his political commentary on the show or had done a re-creation of it on his show, it would not have had the bite. It also shows that the press’ shared fear about being direct and to-the-point is somewhat near a small childs fear of putting their head underwater. Again, when things are this wrong in the country (regardless of who is in power and whether they be donkey or elephant) then we need a wake up call. These people in Washington represent us, they are our public servants, and they do the job of governing that WE appoint them for. We are THEIR bosses, not the other way around. They should be respected, yes, but they should respect us back tenfold for giving them the job of running our lives. That is the point of representative democracy, no? If they do a bad job, we let them know. And we have NOT been doing that, we have been simply voting along party lines for decades. That needs to stop. Affiliation should not equal votes, and unfortunately that’s what it does.

    To those for: Stop singing his praises. As Chris Rock once said (paraphrased), we should stop praising people for what they’re supposed to do. You can’t brag about taking care of your child or not going to jail or having a job, because you’re supposed to do all these things. He’s a political satirist of a ravaging calibur, as he displayed here, but he’s doing what he’s supposed to be doing. Instead of wasting hours upon days worth of energy arguing about what he DID, you should follow suit if you felt it appropriate. Putting anyone on a pedestal results in problems, as many of the press seem to put the administration on a similar pedestal and have this paralyzing fear of their jobs and reputations if they would just, for once, say what’s directly on their mind and what the people want. You fools who see Colbert as the second coming of Twain or Swift are just as bad as these people. Learn the lesson and follow it, if it’s that great to you, but stop slobbing his political knob like a bunch of starry-eyed groupies.

    That’s all. I’m sure I’ll get flack from both sides, and if you’d like to discuss this my email is linked. Good day!

  • I just read a few comments about how risk-free Colbert’s performance was, and I think that is completely off the point. His performance was courageous in context. Colbert was saying what a majority of the people are thinking but to date no one has had the nerve to say in public. And he has been the only one to speak in public in bush’s face. I don’t care about risk-assessment. I believe if I had the chance I would do the same because I am so damned angry, and so are a lot of people, and there’s nobody speaking for us. Not the media. Not congress. Not the courts. Everyone in Washington acts like a coward, or a bought-off criminal. Except for Colbert …. Pandering ?? Yes. Good business ?? Sure. Brilliant ?? Why not. Courageous ?? Compared to everyone around him, you bet.

  • Silverpooch

    I was fascinated watching CSPAN after the event was over, as everyone was filing out. There were lots of congratulatory handshakes for Stephen. I’m not much of a lip reader but it appears one of the woman said it was ‘wonderful.’ You can pick up some of the crosstalk in the audience from the open mikes that is very interesting. It appears to me that many were talking about Colbert, not in disgust but in that ‘OhmiGod’, shaking head kind of way. Seems to me some of them heard him and were talking about it. At least the ones who were not crowded around George Clooney.

  • JP

    Crego, I don’t know where you saw “lame delivery,” I personally thought he delivered the material quite well. To each his own.

    Triple H, thanks for the Con talking points: “…his chance to effect the former [Saddam] is now gone forever thanks to American troops and the guy Colbert was so brave to go after last night…” If I want to hear this kind of nonsense, I’ll go read Free Republic.

  • Digby said it best: “… I think Stephen Colbert forgot his place.” First, we can’t have anti-war speakers at a peace activist’s funeral, then we can’t have anti-lie jokers at a journalists’ dinner.

    I think what’s lost on the members of the 32% who thought Colbert was unfunny is that his stuff is only funny if you’re not afraid of who you are. Far from political ranting, Colbert was zinging cleverly with the best of them.

    Here’s one I find telling. Justice Scalia recently said the Italian equivalent of “Go ____ yourself” (somewhat more colorful in the original) with accompanying gesture, then tried to pass it off as harmless slang. So Colbert made a joke out of gesturing at Justice Scalia, making fun of something Scalia had lied about. Scalia laughed uproariously, taking his lumps. He lied, he got caught, he got zinged, he laughed. And everyone was free to laugh with him.

    Why didn’t Bush laugh? After all, he really did pull firefighters off disaster relief for photo ops in the aftermath of Katrina. He really does have terrible ratings. The government of Iraq really has been helpless to stop the civil war. He really did out Valerie Plame, or at the least created the conditions in which she would be outed, along with VP Cheney. He really does think the media is too liberal and Fox News is telling the truth.

    Bush cannot laugh at himself. He can’t take it when someone tries to knock down his carefully crafted media image. He sees it as laughing at him and he wants the whole world to take him seriously. He can’t be self-effacing, doesn’t have the humility and perspective to see himself as he is.

    Colbert knew it, and you can see it in every minute of that performance, if you even want to call it a performance. He spoke every taboo word in our political life. The President didn’t laugh and a hush fell over the court. The unsmiling face was exposed.

  • Pedro

    Bummer dude! Colbet’s material on CC is hilarious. But his performance last night was embarrassingly labored, material was weak and he didn’t hit the mark with his delivery. He could have been a lot more balanced in his material (Dems, Reps, Press) too. It seemed he enjoyed it though. And the video, I thought it would never end! Just horrible.

  • serfbaja

    WAJ…..your review is laughable…..Cobert was not funny…..he was there to be funny……you can spin it anyway you want……..”a person just has to understand that sort of humor”…..right

    And the people who read you blog are a joke…….listen to these comments……”it had to be said”…….”colbert got balls…..”…..”the media needed to hear it”…… all this hasn’t been said a million times before. One of you….Dan lewis i think…said…”Bush didn’t laugh”……..?….watch a re-run Dan….he laughed even though the guy wasn’t funny, then went up to the podium afterwards and thanked the lousy comedian………vigorously shook his hand and told him thank you…….then the bum walked right past Laura barely nodding his head at her……what a jerk……Balls? Ball-less is more like it…..

    you Bush haters are an amazing bunch. You are consistant………you can never find anything good about Bush, and can good in every bad thing that happens if you think it hurts Bush.

    Newsflash….this event didn’t hurt Bush. Bush has heard all the BS you folks tell about “photo-ops” and “lies” and “outting Valerie Plame” (If her husband hadn’t come back from Niger and lied about Iraq and Uranium she’d still be unknown by everyone outside of DC)

    This is one blog that isnt worth a re-visit

  • owl

    Seems to be quite a few confused over behavior that should be appropriate to the billed event. This was supposed to be good natured FUNNY. Do you invite quests to your home to insult them?

    Your confusion seems to be linked to ‘free speech’ and ‘truth to power’. Sorry….that is called an Election. Otherwise, it is all sour grapes exhibited and cheered by sore losers. Try the appropriate avenue….win an election.

  • Lauren

    You have to hand it to Saddam Triple H (classy name– you’re a Joyce fan, right?) He was capable of something we aren’t. I certainly don’t mean torture or snatching people from their homes, because we’ve done that more than once in US history.

    Saddam could rule Iraq. We obviously can’t. The Iraqis obviously can’t. We really should get over ourselves already, as you say.

    Colbert’s comments will be quoted for decades, if not centuries, when trying to describe the willful idiocy of the far right and how they (almost?) ruined this country.

    The founding fathers excoriated each other. They used the First Amendment like a razor. They CERTAINLY did not intend for us to shut up in the face of wrongs that threaten the respectability and stability of this country, and here’s a little hint: a BJ wasn’t one of them.

  • johnnyr

    Wow, it’s all very clear now…anyone who thought Colbert wasn’t funny is a brainless, humorless Bush-Bot dolt, so I suppose it would make sense that you would support an idiot like Bush.

    And if you thought it was brilliant and biting, you are a normal person, with a sense of humor and intellect.

  • Muchos Huevos Grandes Indeed!

    The thing that makes Colbert’s performance even more enjoyable is the sour grapes that the 32% of Americans that could best be described as “backwash” are chomping on right now.

    Bush got more laughs from the audience because he was making fun of himself, therefore they were laughing with him.

    With Colbert, if people at the dinner laughed, they were laughing AT Bush–not with him.

    I guarandamntee you people at home thought it was hilarious. I laughed my fucking ass off.

    Too bad the “real” press didn’t have the balls to laugh at the waste of sperm that Bush is.

  • ok, let’s recognize the limits here:

    first off, colbert is not mark twain. he is a funny and clever comedian, but he’s no twain.

    second, if ANYBODY thinks it was easy or didn’t require guts to stand only a few feet from the most powerful man in the world (dick cheney, of course) and say what colbert said, well, you’re crazy. sure it wasn’t ridiculing the mullahs and risking death. but aside from risking whatever form the ire of the administration will take, he also had to know that there could be a considerable backlash from the right wing punditocracy, which we are seeing today. there has to be a certain percentage of that constituency that would definitely consider a violent response.

    third, in the light of the recent boston globe article that illustrates how this president is routinely maneuvering to ensure that he is above the law, i personally hope that colbert’s actions give courage to many more to speak their minds to his face at every opportunity.

    screw respect for this president. he doesn’t deserve it (and no, i wouldn’t have said that 5 years ago). respect is only valid when it’s mutual. the man has given ample evidence that he has no respect whatsoever for the american public.

  • Ai Knight

    The White House is still standing, the bloggers are still typing, the show is still running, and the world is still turning. And no one has died as a result of the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner. The real extent of his performance’s effect cannot be accurately gauged; from what I’ve read, it has been strongly debated (and surprisingly so) among cliques of ideologically opposed netizens. Not to mention that satire and/or humor is dangerously subjective ground, the limits of which cannot be officially established.

    Perhaps it is a matter of taste. Perhaps it is a matter of politics. Perhaps it is a matter of etiquette. Perhaps it is a matter of duty.

    Whatever the reason, I doubt whatever any one of you say will change the event itself or the opinions of the people who watched it. I like reading people’s reviews just to keep a pulse on the varying views of the public and their eagerness to defend their individual positions. A uniform list of reviews would be dreary and unimaginative indeed.

    To be honest, I am an admirer of Stephen Colbert, the real-life man and the on-stage persona on his show. I sat down, watched to proceedings, reacted, sat in silence, ruminated for a period of time, read other reviews and comments, and contented myself with my own judgment.

    I find no reason to dissect the particulars of my personal perspective with this lively audience, with you resolute reviewers of America, nor do I feel the urge to defend or publicly fawn over Mr. Colbert. I like to think he share’s my sentiments – that he does not need to defend his performance or explain it extensively to the layman.

    I can only discern one general consensus: Mr. Colbert succeeded in setting the tongues of the attentive public wagging.

  • djrichard

    Truth to Power? No. Truth about Power? Yes. Funny? Yes!

    The Bush administration’s relationship to the MSM is symbiotic: it’s about the administration giving and withholding access, it’s about the MSM monetizing their subscribers as a channel to market. Speaking truth to power is about upsetting that apple cart, which to be honest is not a real risk for Colbert himself. Colbert’s real tour de force is in exposing the MSM’s weakness to do anything about upsetting that apple cart – it’s their drug addiction.

    Any damage that Colbert did to Bush is collateral and just for fun – it’s like saying to the MSM, “nah nah, look at what I can do – you pussys can only dream of doing something like this.” The MSM was the real target. Bush was just collateral damage. I loved it.

    If we had a Democractic Prez up there, Colbert would have done the same thing.

  • mikezw

    A minor aside for the conservative Colbert-bashers — for your information, and before you make a flat caricature out of him in your mind, Colbert is a devout Catholic from an old South Carolina family who teaches Sunday school every weekend. And if you watch his show regularly, you’ll be aware that he knows his Bible and Catechism front to back. (Unlike the Bushes, who only go to church once every few months for the occasional photo-op — if you don’t believe me just spend one minute with google and lexis/nexis. It’s the difference between, on the one hand, instrumentally using ‘values’ and Christianity as a cynical political hammer and, on the other, actually living by them and being horrified to your core by the moral sulphuric pit that the Bush Republicans have dragged the country into over the past 5 years.)

  • D Kurtz

    It’s no surprise that Colbert was pulling only nervous laughter. His schtick is as much a fuck-you to the press corps as it is a criticism of the administration. I chuckled at some parts, though I didn’t think is was funny so much as incredibly fresh and amusingly out of left field. Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. The audience was under direct attack, and many of them completely deserved it.

  • Francisco

    Two years ago, Bush made the audience laugh very hard with his tasteless jokes about the missing WMDs. I was in Spain at the time. During a TV show at night, while I was enjoying a beer with my friends at a local bar, the presenter of the program said before he introduced Bush’s act: “I may not be at this job tomorrow, but allow me to say that this guy is a SOB” (hijo de puta in Spanish). Everybody at the bar applauded, and were absolutely infuriated by Bush’s jokes. I can’t believe how technical republicans get now about taste and how much relevance they give to the audience’s reaction. Given what happened 2 years ago at the same event, I do not give today’s audience any credit. If they did not laugh, too bad. I am sure my friends and other people in Spain and around the world are happy to see that there are still some Americans with “huevos grandes” as Colbert says. Bush and the audience did not like Colbert’s jokes. Why would they? The rest of the world though (apart from a bunch of brainless war-party cheerleaders)will sleep better tonight knowing that real humor is alive and well. ¡Gracias, Stephen!

  • Minnie Mouse

    The wingnuts have blasted both barrels at Colbert today.

    He is second rate (not funny! Timing! Playing to his veiwers!) and \or rude! (inappropriate! uncouth at such a function! etc.) Tomorrow the Rush will demonstrate the talent that pays for his hillbilly heroin when he explains why It’s Clinton’s Fault!

  • Elrod

    Absolutely ballsy performance. It wasn’t comedy. It was dead seriousness. I don’t care what the etiquette is for that event. Sometimes you need something to shake things up.

  • Die Hard Consevative

    How dare Colbert mock what we hold dearest? How dare he hold a mirror to our great leader’s greatest acts, which enshrine the greatness of this great nation? That snivelling coward of a jester, with no sense of timing or good material, his majesty commands – “Off with his bighead!”.

  • Lo Ping Wong

    By my count, most of the audience laughs at most of Colbert’s jokes. Where’s the bomb? This isn’t a crowd of drunks revved up for a stand-up comedian. Maybe they laughed harder at the President’s jokes, but everybody’s supposed to laugh at the boss’s jokes.

    Anybody remember the Dixie Chicks? Colbert took a professional risk here. Is that bravery? Is it balls? Colbert is a nervy sonofabitch, that’s for sure.

  • Lo Ping Wong

    OK, I’ve watched the whole video, and anybody who says Colbert bombed is just wrong. Only one or two jokes fall -flat-; the rest get laughs. Repeat after me: NOT A BOMB. Colbert didn’t kill, but he didn’t bomb, either. He was edgy, he pulled it off and he knew it.

  • Sortelli

    I guess when your own schtick is playing out your own strawmen, Colbert was hillllarious.

    Let’s all pretend to be Jesus Freaks, guys. That is so rad.

  • achromatic chronicles

    kevin lyda = I completely agree.

    Stephen did what he always does, which is great because he didn’t shy away from his usual style because Bush was there. That doesn’t make him courageous in a traditional sense, he was doing what he should be allowed to do, freely express what he has to say, and its great because he does it well. He didn’t kill but he obviously made some sort of impact, I was shocked he’d even get to do something like that to be honest.

    I think Colbert was extreme, and was happy when “truthiness” was discussed.

    BCrago66 = dude, its comedy, calm yourself.

  • Sean

    Colbert is the Trojan Horse of the modern era. His sarcastic approach to the truth tricked the neo-cons into believing he was harmless. But once inside the impenetrable walls of Whitehouse censorship, he exposed their vulnerabilities and delivered the first and most destructive blows. It is now the responsibility of honest Americans to finish the job from the outside. The Battle of modern Troy has just begun, and we all know who won last time. I’m sure the audience at the Correspondents Dinner were as shocked as the people within Troy were. Certainly neither thought the truth was funny.

    If you think Colbert was being untruthful with his criticism, I urge you to find facts (from multiple sources) that refute his statements. Just because they are “liberal talking points” doesn’t mean they lack credibility. Don’t trust me? Read “conservative talking points” and you will find that although they may disagree on solutions, they agree on the truth. Be careful not to confuse conservatives with the neo-cons. Just because they are on the same plane as the hijackers doesn’t mean they share the same ideas as the hijackers. Some just don’t yet realize their plane has been hijacked…

  • If you watched the CSPAN coverage, or saw the video, you are shocked that the major media outlets acted as if Colbert introduced Bush to the audience and then sat down. Of course, his performance, no matter your politics, was the most important portion of the whole affair.
    Either you saw him as an arrogant, ill-informed traitor who embarrassed a great sitting President, or you posses some intelligence and saw him as truth-in-a-jester’s-role confronting power. But, if you were the major media, you hardly noticed he was there.

    Of course, there are over 300,000 other ghosts who walked down Broadway (see on Saturday that know how Colbert might feel.

  • Elrod

    The reason this performance was so newsworthy was that Bush NEVER allows himself to hear criticism. Had he subjected himself to this sort of thing on a semi-regular basis, Colbert’s schtick wouldn’t have hit him very hard. But when you surround yourself with sycophants in stage-managed photo-ops, you can get blinded by reality.

  • MDP

    E&P: As Colbert walked from the podium, when it was over, the president and First Lady gave him quick nods, unsmiling, and left immediately.

    No, the president stood up, grinned at Colbert, shook his hand and said, “good job, well done.” Watch the video.

  • AB

    Political satire is hardly ever meant to be observed as hilarity. Colbert used this rare chance to point out the issues that the administration is avoiding and his target is certainly them not us. That said, the laughter came from the surprising courage and risky comments rather than the usual “hehe” you get from others who think of themselves as political comedians.

  • Jonnan

    I think the fundamental fact that should be acknowleded is – He didn’t come there uninvited. His comedic style is a known factor, and he performe beautifully in that style.

    If his audience supported inviting a biting satirist as guest speaker, and then went “Uh, we didn’t think he’d satire *us* on national TV”, then frankly, they’re wimps.

    No, George can’t handle being satired to his face. He doesn’t have the balls or confidence (Stubborness is not confidence) to handle it – his humor is always either formulaic, or putting others down.

    But that George doesn’t have the balls that Colbert has, doesn’t make Colbert not funny. Colbert was dead on.

  • htom

    Not Mark Twain.

    Funny satire is applied with a light touch, as if a envenomed epee, rather than the bashing of a battle axe. There were parts that were funny, and too many parts that were just too like a twelve-year-old who’s just discovered sarcasm.

    If you enjoyed it, that’s fine.

  • Ron A. Zajac

    The correspondents weren’t laughing because, in the end, really, what Stephen was saying was deadly serious.

    Oh, and six little words: They have kids in private schools.

  • Wow, 108 comments at this point. Is that a record, Joe?

    Anyway, my two cents, Colbert did a great job though Crooks and Liars didnt even post a full video

  • I felt like I was watching living history unfold before my very eyes. As in, “Do you remember where you were in 2006 when someone finally went on live TV and told the truth for a change?” Had it been tape-delayed, Colbert would probably never have made it to the air.

  • Juan Valdez

    I just feel the need to clear something up from previous posts – he was not speaking “truthiness” to power – truthiness, by his own definition, is the unsupported “gut feeling” disingenuous non-truth that he generally mocks.

    In one sense, it would be correct to say; truthiness is the defining aspect of his fake character, so technically he is speaking that. However, his message was not truthiness at all. Sorry to nitpick.

    Another thought: many here have claimed that the speech was in no way courageous due to the fact that he will experience no negative repercussions. This is ludicrous; by this standard, no statement in a free society can be termed ‘courageous’. Speaking directly to the president of the United States, no matter how you feel about him, is clearly an intimidating experience; knowingly and intentionally bombing to your (present) audience would, I’m sure, be difficult for a comedian. The fact that someone is not slaughtered for an act does not make it non-courageous. The fact that very, very few would have had the nerve to do the same thing does make it courageous.

  • Hey, who paid for Steve Bridges’ appearance at the dinner?

  • marsgeek

    While I have special dislike for the fraud who soils our White House, I have to admit to that loathing that I have for the hacks, kiss ups, cowards and News models that presently make up the Washington Press Corps borders on hatred.

    To make my point, recently in a early morning stupor I woke up to see the smiling face of MSNBC’s Chief Washington Correspondent, the ridiculously good looking Norah O’Donnell. What I am about to say is not because I be-grudge the fact Ms. O’Donnell is a stunning woman. In fact like most men I enjoy staring at pretty things as well as shiny ones. If I were a horny teen her smiling face would have been a cue to well…I don’t need to go into that.
    However she uttered several rather cute and utterly incorrect phrases that stunned me. I expected the host or someone in earshot of the young woman to correct her. But they didn’t but to make a long story short anyone watching her would have come away with the distinct impression that the President of the United States somehow had the power to pass laws. She didn’t say “influencedâ€? the passing legislation or “initiatedâ€? the consideration of legislation. It was clear to me that she was inferring some new Powers for the President of the United States. She then repeated the same thing again later during a short report on Chris Matthews’ hour of preening and posturing for the camera on MSNBC. I sent Ms. O’Donell an e-mail, which I admit was a wee-bit condescending, recommending that she watch School-House Rock’s rather instructive animated piece on how a bill becomes a law.
    The point of my little tale is to illustrate what we up against. Mediocrity is tolerated and obviously promoted in DC these days. The job of the DC press corps is to go along to get along. I hope it doesn’t seem like I am picking on her because she is the least cupable among these folks. Americans are responsible for this, because we tolerate the daily insult to our intelligence that masquerades as journalism. We tolerate the Aristocratic Journalist class that has risen up since Watergate to become part and parcel of a culture in Washington that shelters power and money from criticism or scrutiny by the American public. What we have is a wealthy Press Corp, which mingles and breaks bread with their benefactors
    We have allowed the mundane and salacious to replace news and information about the inner workings of our government. We are too busy or too comfortable to care or to be bothered with the details of citizenship.
    So our news organizations continue to close their international desks at every network. They continue to fire or re assign or disappear smart but “controversial� correspondents. Whatever happened to Christiane Amanpour? When was the last time CNN allowed her to speak for more then 90 seconds about her impressions about what is going on in Iraq.

    Journalist in this society have a duty and role to play in free society, that is why the founding fathers placed freedom of the press in the very first amendment of our bill of rights. The present group are falling down on the job.

  • Ulfrekr

    Juan Valdez: Hear, hear. What Colbert did took balls. Period. I’d like to see all the people saying otherwise do anything half as gutsy, and do so in front of the entire nation. Also, First Amendment rights notwithstanding, it’s not as if no one in this country has ever suffered for their speech. There are plenty of places in America where saying the wrong things to the wrong people could easily get you killed, and a lot of those people probably aren’t too pleased with Mr. Colbert right now.

  • I’ve posted on Colbert’s truth-to-power genius as well on my own blog, posted here on Nettertainment. Colbert is playing an incredible double game, which is something like watching the movie “Memento” as the brain does an extra gyration to turn what he says around and get the true meaning.

  • SteveMcK

    Lots of great comments, but I would urge that you take a look at Bush’s routine with the double and get into what he was trying to do there. There is plenty of snark in that one, and the part of the script that said that Cheney was drunk as a skunk when he shot made my skin crawl far worse than anything SC said.

    Compare the two. My read : one reflects a deep disgust for the audience and an almost limitless reservoir of arrogance and self privilege, while the other expresses a deep trust in the ultimate capacity of the nation to right itself and to live out the vision on which it was formed. You decide which is which…

  • Jon Hendry

    As far as suffering for his speech, I wouldn’t be particularly surprised if Bush’s puritan cronies at the FCC are at this moment trying to figure out a way to fine Colbert and CSPAN for airing his routine.

  • rattfink

    Colbert had courage in the sense that stand-up is extremely difficult when you’re in front of a drunk crowd at some club in Dallas, let alone at a nationally televised event in front of a ballroom full of rich and powerful people… one of whom (the very person you are skewering) is the MOST POWERFUL MAN IN THE WORLD. even with the protections of the first amendment, I’d like to see how you stand up to the President of the United States of America, face to face.

  • expatjourno

    And in case any members of the press are reading this, we weren’t laughing with you, we were laughing at you.

  • Lord Chimp

    The reaction to Colbert’s performance has been entirely as I would have anticipated. The knuckle-draggers are of course openly hostile and contemptuous, the faux moderates are dismissive, the mainstream media is – as usual – stunningly absent, and the left-wing blogosphere is energized and elated.

    Colbert obviously didn’t change any minds, open any eyes, or soften any hearts – but then again, he wasn’t trying to. What he was attempting to do was to behave in the manner that an actual human being who possesses a soul and a conscience should behave. That is, to stand up in front of the naked Emperor and his equally naked sycophants and courtiers and say: “Oh by the way – did any of you happen to notice that you’re all buck naked?”

    And all I can say is, thank God someone is still willing to do so.

    Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind. -Theodore Geissel

  • Lord Chimp

    The reaction to Colbert’s performance has been entirely as I would have anticipated. The knuckle-draggers are of course openly hostile and contemptuous, the faux moderates are dismissive, the mainstream media is – as usual – stunningly absent, and the left-wing blogosphere is energized and elated.

    Colbert obviously didn’t change any minds, open any eyes, or soften any hearts – but then again, he wasn’t trying to. What he was attempting to do was to behave in the manner that an actual human being who possesses a soul and a conscience should behave. That is, to stand up in front of the naked Emperor and his equally naked sycophants and courtiers and say: “Oh by the way – did any of you happen to notice that you’re all buck naked?”

    And all I can say is, thank God someone is still willing to do so.

    Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind. -Theodore Geissel

  • azuma

    It’s funny that so many conservatives are saying that Colbert ‘bombed’ because of the reaction of the audience. Yes he did it ‘for laughs’ but not for the laughs of the audience you fools, for the rest of us sitting at home worried about the economy, the war, our parent’s healthcare and the lack of goodwill toward man. Everyone should have known what to expect when SC was introduced with “a very special edition of the Colbert Report…” Have they never seen clips of his show or maybe they only the setup to his jokes and skip past the punchlines?

    SC delivered a right hook not only to the preznit that could not be filtered by his handlers, but he was also angrily scolding the press for not being more like Helen Thomas. I think he was right, and while so many seem upset that he had the nerve to be so rudely honest, I don’t think he was up there trying to win fans, he was there making a statement, showing us just how ridiculous the acts and policies of the president have become.

  • Nathrakh Sabbathi

    Colbert’s critics on this one have completely missed the point. He couldn’t have cared less that he didn’t make anyone laugh. He wasn’t trying to make anyone laugh, he was trying make people think. And since the mainstream media isn’t capable of making anyone think about anything other than the latest celebrity baby or missing white woman, Colbert was simply taking advantage of a golden opportunity to get some very true, and very important, points across to as many people as possible. He succeeded. End of story. Ultimately, the joke is on his critics and of course on the preznit and his gang.

  • Another blogger’s two cents:

  • SteveMcK

    BTW: In reading these and other comments saw a lot of people comparing Colbert “bombing” to Imus bombing in 1996. Maybe Imus had something to say that really mattered and the crowd couldn’t handle the truth? Went back and read it ()

    Not a chance. Cheap, personal attacks that sell gossip rags; nothing more. When you look at what Stephen did, remember the people from New Orleans, remember the 2400+ families that have lost loved ones, the tens of thousands with badly injured and disabled sons and daughters, the 100K+ faceless Iraqis gone, the hundreds of billions of dollars up in smoke or in the pockets of the administrations cronies.

    No matter how much you laud or despise Colbert, none of that is ever coming back…

  • SteveMcK

    Sorry – thought I pasted in the Imus link. It is at “”

  • Ra

    >Geez..isn’t the left supposed to be loose and >funny, whiel the right is supposed ot be uptight? >What happened to the left’s sense of humour.

    hmmmm…yeah I remember having a sense of humor back in the day..Now lets see what has happened to dull it of late- ah yes an unnecessary war based on lies, 2300+ American soldiers dead (and God knows how many Iraqis), blatant corruption in the govt (Abramoff, Delay etc.), the complete undermining of all manner of environmental protections, the manipulation of science to further specific right wing interests ( James Hansen anyone?)…and on it goes.

    If I were an overprivileged, entitled brat living 25 feet up my own ass, I too would whine about how people don’t have a sense of humor no more blah blah…
    As it is I am grateful to Stephen Colbert for what he did- it was awesome…predictable yes! Boring? No! I respect Colbert enough to know that he isn’t going to go on there and play nicey nice with lame jokes about “great white hunters” and “nucular” etc.

    Yeah he is probably not gonna end up in a body bag for what he did-so bloody what?

    And I really don’t think he cared a rat’s ass about whether that pathetic bunch of ass-kssing Bush-bots laughed at his jokes or not…

    And yes I am a whiny, bleeding heart liberal spewing out standard lefty talking points like Colbert-nothing new in any of this etc.etc. But you know what-this stuff can never be said TOO often…there is a war going on, Katrina victims are being ejected from the govt provided housing long before they expected to be, biodiversity indices are falling, the globe’s climate patterns ae breaking. Some of us don’t want to ignore and distance ourselves from things, just cause they do not directly touch our lives. The good news is that Exxon is making more money than ever! Hey at least some of us are havig a good time eh? I guess they are the ones that still have a legit. sense of humor.

  • Fazookus

    Interesting take on ‘courage’ by everyone, some good points.

    How many death threats do you think Mr. Colbert will receive from the ‘ditto’ squad, the ‘internet brown shirts’?

    What he did took guts, that’s all there is too it.

  • Colbert is my new hero. Jon Stewart used to be my hero, but poor Jon would never have the balls to do what Colbert did on Saturday night.

  • Bluesteel

    As Steve McK points out above, there is an elephant in the room here people (as the risk of being punny). The Bush Administration has been a reign of terror, literally killing thousands of people for no apparent reason (“Why did we invade Iraq?”).

    Under these circumstances, criticizing Colbert for being insensitive to the mood or purpose of the evening is a load of horseshit. It’s patently offensive that anyone should be able to make light-hearted laughs when the president of the United States INVADED ANOTHER COUNTRY FOR NO REASON.

  • RoPa

    So this is what an act of revolution looks like in the Bush era. Infiltrating the most powerful stage and lobbing a verbal barrage that spreads its shrapnel blog by blog, until the pain is seen and shared nationwide.

  • Scrivener

    It doesn’t matter that much whether Colbert was “brave” or not, in my opinion. I’m sure he’d say himself that he wasn’t brave. Turning the debate towards the personal qualities of Colbert is a typical tactic for avoiding the real issues.

    What I feel is a sense of relief. “They can’t say we didn’t tell them.” Kind of similar to the sentiments behind the move to impeach Bush, which was not intended to achieve anything concrete, but which enabled a detailed report on the dishonesty of the case for invading Iraq to be created for posterity.

    Bush takes care to insulate himself from reality. “Reality has a well-known liberal bias” – the brilliance of that line becomes more evident the more you think about it. On this one occasion, though, we know that Bush knows that we know what’s really going on. That gives a sense of catharsis: maybe just a pinprick into skin as thick as an elephants, but at least one person definitely got through to him.

  • Not- so Rich

    Well, it is kind of hard to laugh when you’re getting the skin ripped off your body. The fact that they didn’t laugh just proves that Colbert was right on the mark. Want them to laugh? Just substitute “Clinton” for “Bush” and all of the mindless Bush sycophants are laughing their asses off. As it was, the one guy who really is beyond all of this– Scalia– looked like he was creaming in his jeans, he was laughing so hard. Great, great job, Steve– the funniest 12 minutes in years. Thanks.

  • faboofour

    Two words: Andy Kaufman.

    The butts of Andy’s performance pieces usually didn’t �get it� either. His work, however, is still acclaimed by most scholars who know that the art is more than �that was my wife� one-liners. Colbert’s speech was akin to Andy’s wrestling pieces. It was far from a failure; it was breathtakingly stunning in it’s presentation and execution.

    Colbert has a single act: he satirizes the way the press reports politics. Saturday night, he performed his act, and did so brilliantly. Unfortunately, if you have an investment in the subject he’s satirizing, you probably won’t find it particularly funny.


    Colbert was playing to his audience and from what I’ve been able to tell from the blogosphere, his audience responded enthusiastically. The president and his lapdog press just isn’t part of that audience.

  • Matt
  • dobby

    Steve Bridges was funny. Simply hilarious. Colbert was a huge disappointment. He wasn’t funny. People were not laughing. Comedians are supposed to make you laugh. Colbert failed badly. The silence from the crowd was deafening.

  • MoCrash

    If one judges the effectiveness of a satirist on the reaction of the audience, then Colbert indeed bombed. If it’s judged on its content, on irony and poignancy, then it’s a highlight of American political comedy.

    I recall Mark Twain’s address on the occasion of the celebration of John Greenleaf Whittier’s 70th birthday in 1877, when he lampooned the honoree, Emerson and Holmes. It was not well-received, but then audiences didn’t always “get” Twain. If he were alive today, his speech — although differing in style — would have had about the same impact as Colbert’s: a dud in the room, hailed elsewhere.

  • So much for the “liberal” media. They were so uptight and gave Colbert a tough time.

    I thought Colbert was terrifically honest and clear. What a great opportunity to give it to the president directly!

    I live right between the Hilton and the Bloomberg party. Here’s my recap (including pics with Colbert and Ed Helms)

  • Janie
  • jasfm

    I don’t know why anybody would be upset with what Colbert had to say. Somebody had to hire or invite him to speak, what the hell did they expect? They don’t have any trouble eavesdropping, maybe they should have somebody watch t.v. You only have to watch him once and you know what to expect. This is more stupid than the people that go on the Report and don’t know what they are getting into.
    And BTW he was absolutely hilarious and it was made better by the people that the truthiness hurt. As we used to say in the old country, “f— ’em if they can’t take a joke.”

  • sfpariah

    Andy Kauffman often shocked his audience and co-stars alike, by creating uncomfortable moments that most people didn’t think were funny at the time. Some people still don’t find his stunts funny, but for many, they are classic.

    Colbert did the same, only with a strong political message. He wasn’t going for on-the-spot laughter, although I’m sure he knew that his fanbase would seek out the video and laugh at home.

    It is obvious to me that Colbert had no intention of making his live audience laugh uproarioulsy. He risked his own reputation as an entertainer and took a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to criticize the President to his face and the Press who have let this administration off the hook.

  • kritter

    Its debatable whether Colbert chose the right time or place, but he said what our nation needed to hear-an honest critique of the last five and a half years. I watched excerpts of his act, and it was more painful than funny, but was truthful to a fault. Its always uncomfortable when you strike a nerve, but it does take courage.

    In contrast,t he president’s double, Steve Bridges, was very funny, in a safe, non-offensive way. My guess is that Colbert’s routine, while not as well-received by the White House press corps, or the president and his cronies, will be much more memorable.

  • Ken Duerksen, Oxford Ohio

    Kieth Olbermann and Dana Milbank (MSNBC’s “Countdown”, May 1 2006) didn’t like the performance the other night of their fellow entertainer Stephen Colbert at the Washington Correspondent’s Dinner. Both seemed prudishly miffed by the fact that Colbert had made the President uncomfortable – reenacting the Victorian cluck-fest the two held in the wake of the Corretta Scott King funeral, at which Bush’s panties had gotten similarly bunched.

    Olbermann incomprehensibly took a proprietary role regarding our president’s delicate sensibilities by worrying wether the dinner was “the right venue” for such talk. Milbank dismissed Colbert’s act by saying “I don’t think he crossed a line: I just don’t think he was terribly funny”. Wrong on both counts, Dana; Colbert crossed lines that Washington’s timid journalists fear to even approach – the way a dog implicitly avoids its Invisible Electric Fence – and the satire was pristine.

    It was hilarious and bold because it rang true. The only people who weren’t laughing were those being so exquisitely skewered: the Bush administration and its huge stable of media sycophants – essentially the entire live audience. Out here in the country and blogosphere its all anyone can talk about – and we loved it! I found one of the funniest aspects of the show to be when the camera would reveal to us at home the stony faces of well-known journalists experiencing the first pangs of cognitive dissonance, and the realization that Colbert was in fact roasting them.

    Like most franticly defensive reactions, Olbermann’s and Milbank’s objections lack internal logic. The two make no bones about the fact that these events themselves are fatuous, pretentious, and “painful” to attend – and yet they lament the possibility that Colbert had “irrevocably damaged” the Correspondents dinner. Well, that’s what a good iconoclast does – he shatters institutions that damage or strangle society.

    I hope there never is another “Correspondent’s Dinner”, as it has always been an unnatural affair which has served to tame our Fourth Estate to the hand of their masters. I don’t want my journalists enjoying “cucumber martinis” with those who should be treated as their natural enemies – our government. Its not good for the country. Colbert is a patriotic hero, and funny to boot.

    Ken Duerksen

    Oxford, Ohio

  • The Viking

    Stephen Colbert: A brave, brave man (and a big bow to you too Helen.) In the vinyl-sided world of Washington’s military culture and its engorged support system, it’s become very dangerous to tell the truth.

    The interesting thing about watching the events leading up to The Master’s speech, was the preponderance of military poop-lah. Little boys and old men with uniforms and guns, and, hidden among them, the evangelical christian cadre’, keeping America free from…um…everyone else.

    You can’t talk with fanatics, that’s the one concept the Bush administration got right from the outset. So if one of those self-important lackeys lives near you – and someone voted for Bush – find a way to punish them, their businesses, their churches, in your own way, for they do not hesitate to punish or even enslave you.

  • It’s plain to see from the video that so many were afraid to laugh. Those who weren’t afraid were ashamed or angry that Colbert dared take them to task for their reprehensible support of King George and his lawbreaking cronies.

    It took major balls for Colbert to look Bush dead in the eye and tell King George a thing or two. Something I’ve longed to do myself on many occasion but I’ll have to stick to the free speech zone.

    King George is dead. Long live Colbert.

  • pfiore

    Maybe Colbert wasn’t really going for the people at the dinner but for the viewing audience. Maybe his direct, unflinching mano-to-mano moments with Bush was a call to us all: this is America and George Bush is NOT the boss of ME! Bush is in charge for only a moment, albeit a bad one, and it is up to us to push back at presidents who misdirect the country. After all, it is we who own this mess and will have to live with it. I think Colbert was trying to wake us up.

  • Tim B

    I thought it was reasonably funny at times, but I think in terms of being funny he is way better on his show. I think Colbert is a fantastic comedian and also a loveable guy with great charisma.

    In terms of this actual performance I found myself cringing at moments. But I wasn’t cringing at him, but the audience. And not that they didn’t laugh but more that he was actually plainly saying all these things wrong with Bush and the administration with the president sitting RIGHT THERE. It was just so uncomfortable and cringe-worthy, like an episode of The Office. I didn’t laugh much but my stomach was in my throat, really gut hitting stuff.

    No matter how funny it was I find Colbert immensely impressive. And he has the biggest balls of any ‘news’ man ever. Some say he shouldn’t be lauded for this, in context of the whole situation I say yes. Yes he should.

    Bush can go to hell.

  • dobermangang

    Things President Bush should have said to Stephen Colbert after his comedy speech…

    11. The only reason you weren’t heckeled, is because everybody was asleep.

    10. My last speech at the NAACP got a warmer reception.

    9. You might consider trying your luck at accounting.

    8. Andy Kaufman wouldn’t even get your speech.

    7. I can’t believe you replaced Colin Quinn’s show. They must not have a sense of humor over at Comedy Central.

    6. If Paula Abdul was judging your comedy performance tonight, all she would say is you looked good.

    5. Your Secret Service name is now Nytol, cause you put everybody to sleep.

    4. Are you sure you’re a comedian Stephen???

    3. In comparison, you made last year’s guest speaker, Cedric the Entertainer, look like Richard Pryor.

    2. Comedy is hard work. It’s hard… hard, hard, hard work.

    1. I now truly understand what they mean by the phrase: “the silence was deafening”.

  • David M

    In case anyone is still reading . . .

    Writing as an actor, I suspect that Mr. Colbert was nervous. Yes, no matter how experienced we are there is always some level of anxiety caused by performing.

    Given the circumstance, he was probably VERY nervous. This is sometimes read by audiences as hostility or rage.

    Don’t get me wrong, the satire was written angry as all good satire is. I just wonder if he had anticipated delivering it with a lighter touch. He did seem to mellow as the set went on.

  • Monsieur Colbert is a “Sacred Clown.” That’s all.

  • grayday

    The silence from the crowd was deafening; the shock palpable. Colbert was brilliant.

    Some of the material has been used before on his show. I was trying to analyze why it/he seemed different at the dinner, and finally “got it.”

    “Moral outrage” is not the exclusive property of the religious right. Many, many of us feel it when we look at what this administration has done over the last 5 years.

    Colbert took the opportunity to express that outrage to the people who have so richly earned it; in a venue where it couldn’t be spun before release, or before it could reach G’s ears. Has anyone had such an opportunity before during this presidency? I’m sure no one will again!

    He seemed different because he couldn’t entirely stop the “real” Colbert from coming through the character.

    Five years of our increasing outrage at the lawlessness, lies, ineptitude, and contempt of this administration for Amercia’s citizens and Constitution; distilled into a 15 minute skit, and delivered bravely into that dead silence.

    What a patriot!

  • grayday

    The silence from the crowd was deafening; the shock palpable. Colbert was brilliant.

    Some of the material has been used before on his show. I was trying to analyze why it/he seemed different at the dinner, and finally “got it.”

    “Moral outrage” is not the exclusive property of the religious right. Many, many of us feel it when we look at what this administration has done over the last 5 years.

    Colbert took the opportunity to express that outrage to the people who have so richly earned it; in a venue where it couldn’t be spun before release, or before it could reach G’s ears. Has anyone had such an opportunity before during this presidency? I’m sure no one will again!

    He seemed different because he couldn’t entirely stop the “real” Colbert from coming through the character.

    Five years of our increasing outrage at the lawlessness, lies, ineptitude, and contempt of this administration for Amercia’s citizens and Constitution; distilled into a 15 minute skit, and delivered bravely into that dead silence.

    What a patriot!

  • MrMartini

    Nobody laughed…

    Colbert’s diatribe wasn’t funny. It was tacky and mean-spirited. It wasn’t funny when Imus did it and it wasn’t funny when Colbert did it.

    Viciously attacking the President at the WH Correspondent’s dinner is like sucker-punching a boy scout – it’s just something you don’t do.

    The President is the President. Like him or not he is still the President.

    The fact that Colbert is now considered a “hero” and a “patriot” in many corners says alot about where this country is and where it is going.


  • Andi Mags

    Hey MrMartini,

    No, I disagree, it wasn’t like sucker punching a boy scout at all…
    It was like striking a bunch of them with lightening while they were pitching a tent. Which, if you think about it, was pretty goddamn funny (feel free to disagree because death is bad and all, i’m just saying sometimes it’s ironic and amusing to those of us not affected).

    This point has been made already: It was not a dinner for the president, and what a perfect opportunity!

    I’m confused by your intent with this statement: “The President is the President. Like him or not he is still the President.”
    Here’s my exceedingly profound response: SO? Are we not allowed to criticize him? THAT’S OUR JOB AS CITIZENS, Mr. Stupidpants!
    Stephen Colbert is basically the ultimate citizen.

    That last bit is pretty funny too. I’m just curious, but where the hell is our country going anyway, you know, without Mr. C? I’m pretty certain it’s down the crapper. Oh and the planet too… Anybody get that joke about glaciers?)

    YOU are sad. I am psyched that there’s some serious dialogue happening. Next up: Impeachment mobilization, anyone?


  • James123

    Its people like MrMartini that I fear, not the arabs.

    MrMartini is either a paid disninformation artist or a serious basket case.

    Stephen Colbert wasn’t watching the helm when 911 happened.

    He wasn’t the one who started a campaign to invade iraq.

    I’m pretty sure he hasn’t broken any laws, unlike dear leader.

    Fight the trolls everyone, just ignore them and stick to the issues and resolving them. Liberals, Conservatives, Moderates need to all join together and forget about wedge issues and concentrate on getting anyone but the incumbents elected in 2006 and making sure a thorough inquiry into all the secret stuff going on is made public in 2008.

    Focus on the objective! Ignore employees of the pentagon.

  • It’s official. Doctors have confirmed that Colbert has the biggest “huevos grandes” ever: click here to check it out.

  • Mr.


    It’s 8-mile in tuxedos. “W” gave his cute little tag-team rap, and then the guy with the real “stones” got up and chewed him alive.

    Will anyone even remember “W’s” pathetic little schtick a year from now? But 25 years from now, long after Colbert has been “suicided”, we will all remember Colbert as the final patriot with more balls than brains.

    The fear in the room was positively electric. It felt like I was somehow watching Menachim Begin roast Hitler in 1939. Those cutaways to “W” scowling…. The fascists have now been publicly shamed, so I’d expect a swift and decisive response…anyone want to bet they stage another 9/11 event to raise their rating from the basement?

    I don’t know about you, but I’m going to mail Colbert a hundred dollar bill. That’s about a tenth of what I would have paid to see that. I’ll leave it to the rest of you to make up the difference. Maybe Colbert can use the money to get security guards, he’s going to need them.

    Colbert – you’re a hero

  • K

    bet he dies of ‘cancer’ within a year.

  • QW

    Genius. Cobert laid bare the juvenile tactics of this absurd administration and the worthless press that serves it. Reality has a liberal bias and almost nobody in that room wanted the a dose of reality mixed into their mimosas at their little self-congratulatory party. The emperor wears no clothes, and Cobert’s talon sharp sarcasm helped reveal that most of the pundits in the press don’t either. No laughs you say? The comedy was not intended for those in the room who were stripped of their delusions it was intended for us the viewers. Those who did not see the humor in Cobert’s message are either too stupid to understand or are looking for another robe.

  • dasdog


    “It felt like I was somehow watching Menachim Begin roast Hitler in 1939.”

    Thank you for one of the funniest descriptions I’ve found on this blog. I couldn’t have said it better myself. However, truth be told, it was a little more like watching Hitler get roasted in 1944.


  • dobby

    He totally bombed. No laughs. He just wasn’t funny. Every wanna-be comedian should watch Colbert’s terrible performance to see what it’s like to die on stage. It was painful to watch. I felt sorry for Stephen. Comedy sure is hard, especially when your timing is off and the material is weak. Everybody laughed at Steve Bridges performance. He was great. Nobody laughed at Colbert. He just bombed. Like Colbert mentioned on his show monday, the crowd gave “respectful silence” to his performance.

    I bet the first thing Jon Stewart said to Colbert when he saw him after the dinner was… “Tough crowd, huh?” Every comedian bombs now and then, you just hope it happens in some Comedy Club in Des Moines, Iowa where they are not taping it. Yup, respectful silence… that’s what every comedian wants to hear when they do a gig. Silence is golden, except when you’re a comedian trying to get laughs.

  • Bob234

    Anyone who says he ‘bombed’ based on how much laughter he received has missed the point entirely. It’s a flimsy defense because you don’t like hearing the truth. Much the same way Tucker Carlson told John Stewart he wasn’t being funny during that famous exchange.

    It was historical because someone finally pointed out to the world what the world has known for a long time: the emperor has no clothes.

    Finally someone had the courage to say it!

  • Phil Countryman

    Just watched this video, some people in the audience clearly thought it was funny, others had a look of suprise as if this was the first time they had been exposed to a fair acurate critique of this administrations blunders. Bush is truly the worst president in the history of our nation. If a person thought that’s not funny, they’d be correct.

  • Steve Savage

    The presidential impersonator was about as funny as a bad clown at a party full of screaming 3 year olds. I think that is what the republicans there were expecting.

    Stephen Colbert must have tricked them and actually did his real skit. A true classic, and pure Colbert lifted straight from his show. The only difference was that it had a hostile audience. Colbert gets huge laughs on his show because he does a perfect impression of the average ignorant republican to a democratic crowd.
    A the dinner he was in enemy territory. He might as well have done Kim Jong Il jokes in Pyongyang. I’m amazed the secret service didn’t take him away like Bush does to all his detractors. I guess there were just too many cameras around this time for him to get away with it.

  • Carl Schwarzott

    Colbert did bomb and there is a very good reason. On his show, he has 80 writers and a large crew of technicians and artists to coordinate those thirty minutes. They have absolute control and can fine tune every second of video before the public sees it. That’s not true when you are doing stand-up, and Colbert does not have the skills and experience of a stand alone comic. I would compare him to the ill-fated and short television career of Rush Limbaugh. He is the master of talk radio with his many writers and researchers and even does some damned funny parodies. But when he tried a live audience version of his show, he stammered and sweated so nervously, it was painful to watch him. And the Monday Night Football thing was again an example of the guy being too far removed from that controlled environment, and if I may add, his selective audience, that you knew he would screw it up.

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