What we learned about Stephen Colbert from the New York Times magazine

By | January 11, 2012 at 12:25 pm | No comments | feature slider, News | Tags: , , ,

We all knew that there was Stephen Colbert, the man, and Stephen Colbert, the character on television. Well, The New York Times‘ Charles McGrath tells us there’s a third Colbert– his televised persona interacting with our reality. “The new Colbert has crossed the line that separates a TV stunt from reality and a parody from what is being parodied,” he writes in his profile. So who is this third Colbert?

He believes Pfizer and Big Tobacco are people, too: Colbert has been campaigning (or shopping) to put a non-binding referendum on South Carolina’s primary ballot asking voters to decide whether “corporations are people” or “only people are people,” in lieu of a recent Supreme Court decision stating that corporations can contribute endless amounts of money to Super Political Action Committees (super PACs), which can contribute unlimited funds to a candidate’s campaign. “Just because someone was born in a lawyer’s office and is incorporeal doesn’t mean he should have no rights,” he likes to say of the deep pocketed conglomerates.

He improvs politics…: There is no telling what his new super PAC, Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow, will do with it’s undisclosed amount of contributions. Due to the rules surrounding these corporate money tanks, they do not have to tell anyone how much money they have, who (or which companies) contribute, or what they plan to do with the money– which is a scary idea when thinking about a non-satirical super PAC. Most of his future plans are highly confidential, but if his surprise ads during the Ames straw poll are any indication, the “grand actions” he speaks of will make this year’s election more entertaining than the new season of Jersey Shore!

…And so does his staff!: “No” is not a word heard often during writers meetings with Colbert, as many of the show’s scribes have improvisational training. McGrath writes, “For all its scriptedness, the show has a loose, try-anything quality.” In meetings, several writers will become the Colbert character themselves, creating what some would call comedic Heaven (and some would call a liberal’s Hell): a SWAT team of Colberts in one room! About once a month, the show’s staff puts on an improv show at the UCB Theater in New York (next show is Jan. 19th).

He’s just plain fun: Stephen III’s goal with his super PAC have not been to be educational, nor have they been to be deviously Republican-serving. Simply? He just wants it to be funny. Unlike his collaboration with Jon Stewart last year, The Rally To Restore Sanity/Keep Fear Alive, which hoped to bring about a social awareness, this super PAC appears to shake things up simply for the comedic value of shaking things up.

For those of us waiting for the GOP Primaries to be over so we can just get to November and cast our pre-determined vote, we may actually have to pay attention this election season because Stephen Colbert (and his multiple personalities) will be providing some quality entertainment. And who knows? Maybe he will accidentally (or purposely?) change the entire process.

About the Author

Billy Procida

Billy is a stand-up comedian in New York City. Every week he sits down with a chick he's hooked up with to talk about sex, dating, and sexuality on The Manwhore Podcast: A Sex-Positive Quest for Love. Follow Billy on Twitter: @TheBillyProcida