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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Barry Mauer

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.

Greg Wythe

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).


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.


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.


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.


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


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.

Captain Ed

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.


the talking dog

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.


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.


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.

Daniel Berczik

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.


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.


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.


Bottom Line: The TRUTH hurts.

jonathan jonathan jonathan
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!


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.


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


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.


Meant to say “beg” to differ.


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.


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.


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.

Daniel Berczik

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.

Eric A. Smith

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



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

Daniel Berczik

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.

Daniel Berczik


Thanks for proving my point. Hilarious.


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.

the Civil Engine

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.”


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.

Phoenix Woman

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”.

No Blood for Hubris

His performance was absolutely wonderful.

Nailed Bush and nailed the media whore media.

Daniel Berczik


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.


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.


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.


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.