Learn About the Colbert Report
The Colbert Report (pronounced ‘’rapport’’) is a satirical cable news program on Comedy Central. It stars actor and comedian Stephen Colbert, who adopts the persona of an aloof and self-important right wing pundit. The show airs four nights a week, Monday through Thursday, following The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. It has gained a large following and has been nominated for many awards.
By 2005, Colbert had been a correspondent and co-writer on The Daily Show for six years, and the show was seeking a way to expand while keeping the popular Colbert on the network. The show was developed by Jon Stewart and the Daily Show’s executive producer Ben Karlin and Stewart remains an executive producer.
The show first aired on October 17, 2005 and was initially slated for an 8 week run. By the end of the second week of production the show was already popular enough for Comedy Central to offer a contract for the show for another year.
The Colbert Report is broken into several distinct segments with an introduction that generally includes a teaser of the program and the evening’s guest. This leads into the title sequence with theme music from Cheap Trick’s “Baby Mumbles”.
The title sequence then segues into Colbert running down some of the major news, satirizing traditional news programs with an exaggerated right wing bias. After a run down of topics the show shifts to one of several different segments unique to the show, including the Wørd, Tip of the Hat/Wag of the Finger or his ongoing segment called Better Know a District.
The final segment of the show is the interview, conducted at a different desk than the one from which Colbert presents. Interviews are usually with authors or politicians, but Colbert also interviews actors, soldiers and musicians. When interviewing a musician there is also a live performance, and performers have included LCD Soundsystem, Yo-Yo Ma, Radiohead and Black Star.
Satire is the major device used by Colbert. His character is a caricature of prominent news pundits, such as Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity and Geraldo Rivera, and his character is pompous, bombastic and egotistical, with a heavy right wing bias, often willfully ignorant or stubborn in the face of facts.
Colbert’s ongoing parody of Bill O’Reilly is the most apparent and specific reference. The sets are similar, and Colbert’s show is in the same slot as the nightly rerun of The O’Reilly Factor on Fox News. Much of Colbert’s political satire and interviewing style is also based on O’Reilly’s over the top persona.
On several occasions Colbert’s satire has spilled over into the real political world. The most notable of these was when he testified before Congress during hearings on illegal immigration. He also briefly ran for president in South Carolina in 2008.
Reception, Ratings and Awards
Response to the show was overwhelmingly positive and a principle reason its contract was extended. 1.13 million people watched the debut and viewership has climbed to roughly 1.4 million every night. Along with The Daily Show, it leads the category of 18-34 year olds watching late night talk shows.
Critical response has also been positive, and The Colbert Report has been nominated for 7 Emmys every year since its debut. Colbert has also been honored with two Peabody Awards for excellence in entertainment and news, one in 2008 and another in 2012.
In addition to official awards Colbert has been given a number of other distinctions, among them a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavor, a newly discovered species of spider named after him and a treadmill on the International Space Station named the Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Treadmill (COLBERT).
- Colbert Nation is The Colbert Report’s official site with clips, interviews and show archives.
- The Colbert Report on IMDb
- New York Times topic page with the latest news on Stephen Colbert.
- Pew Research Foundation report on who is watching the news, including The Colbert Report’s and The Daily Show’s impact on reporting.
- The Onion’s AV Club interview with Stephen Colbert.
- Christian Science Monitor review of Colbert’s latest book, I Am a Pole (and So Can You!)