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The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

“The Colbert Report” gets cocky

By Eliot Brown

In late spring 2005, Comedy Central made a bold move, announcing the birth of a baby brother to “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and transplanting the show’s top correspondent, Steve Colbert, to his own nightly show—”The Colbert Report.”

To loyal Daily Show fans, the announcement came with both joy and concern: Would the folks at Comedy Central have enough smarts to make a full hour of fake news funny? Could The Daily Show maintain its wit without its greatest reporter? Without Stewart to egg him on with leading questions, could Colbert be funny?
Now past its 50th episode, the answers are crystal clear. Not only is “The Colbert Report” a huge winner, but in some ways is beginning to eclipse its older brother just four months after its premier.
The evolution of the show has been astounding as it seems to have worked out its major kinks in its first two months. For weeks, Colbert could hardly read the teleprompter, misspeaking frequently. The features on the show seemed bland, stretching to even put a grin on my face, and the guests were something of a yawn following Stewart’s interviews with U.S. Senators.
But a peek at any recent episode reveals a more confident Colbert, as he has narrowed in on the cocky demeanor he’s been aiming for.
It is this cockiness that is the reason behind the show’s success. Unlike “The Daily Show,” Colbert is in character for the entire program, mocking the arrogant right-wing talk-show hosts of Bill O’Reilly, Joe Scarborough and Sean Hannity for an entire half-hour.
Even a minute of O’Reilly will reveal the smug host’s overconfidence—a trait Colbert hits dead-on.
Take, for example, Colbert’s introduction in The Report’s first episode: “This show is about you,” Colbert told us. “On this show, your voice will be heard. In the form of my voice.”
He went on to show off the number of times “Colbert Report” was written on the main set (five times), and the unique shape of his desk: a giant “C”.
Even more reminiscent of O’Reilly is The Report’s segment: “Who’s attacking me now?” where the host fights back at organizations or individuals who speak negatively about him publicly. Over on Fox, O’Reilly essentially devotes his entire program to this subject, lashing out at various journalists who represent him poorly.
Yelling, a hallmark of right-wing television hosts, occasionally makes appearances on the Report as well, though far less than Colbert’s Fox News counterpart.
A good yelling match erupted in a segment where Colbert staged a debate with fake liberal radio talk show host. When he got angry, Colbert ordered the guest’s mike to be shut off: “I can still hear him, what is that?” he barked. “Is he coming through my mike? Cut off my mike!”

While I love the occasional yelling, the true brilliance of the show lies in Colbert’s subtle conservative remarks as he dissects the day’s news every night. With the overwhelmingly liberal audience, he quips about the faults of a welfare state, the foolishness of redistributive taxes and the overall whiny nature of Democrats and the liberal media.
In the episode following Bush’s State of the Union address, Colbert played a clip of the speech to which he gave a standing ovation. “My legs won’t let me sit when he talks,” he said as he applauded his leader-in-chief.

Sitting or standing, Colbert has attracted heaps of supporters, gathering over one million viewers a night including none other than Bill O’Reilly. Well conditioned to all-out attacks from other cable TV hosts, O’Reilly was quoted in Newsweek as saying he thought Colbert mocks him “without being mean-spirited.” “I feel it’s a compliment,” O’Reilly told the magazine.

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