by Robert Wilkinson
Today is the 50th birthday of Stephen Colbert, razor witted television maven of "truthiness," born May 13, 1964. His remarkable blend of playful satire, irony, faux right wing reasoning and deliberately obtuse self-centered egomania brings a refreshing humor to America's airwaves through "The Colbert Report" thanks to Comedy Central.
In my 2007 birthday tribute to Stephen Colbert I linked to another article written after his "Triple Taurus" serenade with Richard Holbrook and my old friend Willie Nelson, as well as the White House dinner where he skewered W in a most classy manner. Though that original link is busted, I found another one to the White House Correspondent's Dinner that I included below. By all means check the videos out, since they are the stuff history is made of!
From the 2008 tribute, why he pronounces his name the way he does:
... it's time to offer a birthday shout-out to THE American icon of our times, the august Stephen Colbert. No, not Col-bert. He pronounces his name "Cole-bare" (spelled that way since Steven feels that bears are the numero uno "threat down" in America.) ...Apparently he was raised by enlightened descendants of French Catholics, since his parents allowed all of their numerous kids the privilege of pronouncing their last name the way they want...."
His persona has evolved tremendously from when he was a "correspondent" on Jon Stewart's "Daily Show," and his interviews have gone from amazingly pointed forms of "gotcha" to profound commentaries laced with irony and good humor (sometimes to the chagrin and/or amazement of his guests!) If you haven't caught this icon of our times, he's living the razor's edge of blending wit, wisdom, and wise-guy attitude.
As I wrote last year, “Age 48 is the end of the end of what we’ve been doing since 21, a high point of endings and fulfillment, finishing old life values and relationships. When we are 49, we begin a new 7 year cycle that prepares us for the radical transitions between 49-56. We can now expect to see new approaches, new views, and new messages on his show regarding what he covers and how he covers it. It’s now an entirely different world and future for Rev. Sir Dr. Stephen T. Colbert, D.F.A., and the entire Colbert Nation!”
Of course it’s no secret that he has accepted the host chair for the Late Show, taking over from David Letterman. Sure seems like a huge goodbye to the well-meaning, poorly informed right wing buffoon persona so carefully crafted these past 10 years, and hello to an audience of tens of millions for the “real” Stephen! And since the second year in a cycle is about financial and social shifts, it sure seems like the model holds here. A raise in pay, a raise in audience numbers, and a huge visibility on one of the premier late night talk shows in history makes it seem like he gave himself “the Colbert bump!”
Since the link to the White House Correspondent’s Dinner in the 2007 post is now broken, I found a new link to all 27 minutes of Stephen Colbert at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner.
He really was funny, even if some people weren‘t laughing. A lot of DC pundits got their shorts in a bunch. I suppose the hoary homily holds here that "if you don't have a sense of humor, it's not funny." (Thanks, Wavy!!) And if you can find it, the clip of his show when he and Willie and Richard Holbrooke were singing together is a classic for all time! I’m sure you can find it on his Colbert Report site.
So it's a very Happy and Merry Solar Return and Birthday to this French Irish whirlwind of ironic spin, a Taurus of amazing smiles, perfect hair, and ever-changing new best friends. All the best from this Cosmic Cantina and those of us who count ourselves as part of the Colbert Nation.
© Copyright 2014 Robert Wilkinson
ps - This is one of the funniest segments I've ever seen. We will miss this goofball (and no, I don't mean Jake Rush, aka "Chazz Darling!")