A Colbert Nation

Oct 262005
Authors: Steven Gross

Tired of real news? Tired of being bored to death with useless facts, unimaginative stories and expert opinions? Well suffer no more my over-informed friends, the solution to your problems has finally arrived: "The Colbert Report."

Last week Comedy Central aired the premier episode of "The Colbert Report", hosted by none other than Mr. Stephen Colbert himself. The origins of the Colbert character can be traced back to 1997 with his first appearance on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" as a knowingly ignorant and egotistical reporter. Colbert has also been involved in comedic ingenuities like "Strangers with Candy" and "The Dana Carvey Show." One may also recognize Colbert as the voice of Ace from The Ambiguously Gay Dou on "Saturday Night Live."

"The Colbert Report", although a spin-off of "The Daily Show", differs in that it won't be afraid to stray away from political affairs, and its main premise is satirizing the 24-hour cable news channels. This concept is reflected by Colbert's character, whose self-loving and arrogant personality was inspired by Bill O'Reilly of "The O'Reilly Factor."

Colbert says his character is also meant to encompass the "manliness" of Stone Philip's "thick lacrosse-player's neck" and Geraldo Rivera's "sense of mission" as a "crusading warrior" of journalism. Stephen Colbert portrays these traits perfectly, and nothing could possibly be more entertaining than watching his pompous, under-informed but genuinely intentioned persona create over-simplified solutions to the world's most complicated problems on a nightly basis.

The studio in which Colbert's show is taped also compliments his character's strong sense of self-importance, as his name can be found prominently displayed in almost every corner of the set, which revolves around a desk shaped like a giant C for Colbert. Clips of Colbert draped in the American flag and random, repeated cuts to an eagle soaring across the screen also poke fun at the over-patriotism of most cable news.

On the premier show, Colbert began by reiterating the main concept of a fake-news program by attacking the source of facts themselves: dictionaries and reference books. Colbert called them "elitist" for "constantly telling us what is or isn't true, what did or didn't happen." Colbert also argued that books shouldn't be trusted as they're "all fact and no heart," making him any college student's ideal professor.

The facts do look good for Colbert though, as the ratings for the premier show were 47 percent higher than the average for that timeslot over the past four weeks. Over one million viewers tuned in last Monday, coming very close to the average amount of viewers that regularly watch "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart". Colbert feels that these viewers "get it."

The Colbert report is a hilarious extension of "The Daily Show", and with a full hour of fake news at one's disposal, there's no need for to let depressing facts soil a day. Why tune in to reporters who just tell you the news, when Stephen Colbert has promised to "feel the news at you?"

"The Colbert Report" airs Monday thru Thursday on Comedy Central at 12:30 a.m., and as Mr. Colbert would say, "stay strong America," and most importantly, stay amusingly uninformed by watching "The Colbert Report".

Steven Gross is a senior finance major. His column runs every Thursday in Verve.

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