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Overview: The Colbert Report with Stephen Colbert

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Overview: The Colbert Report with Stephen Colbert
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The Bottom Line

Like The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, the show from which it spun off, Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report provides blistering political and media satire, but rather than traditional newscasts, The Report jabs at political pundits like Bill O’Reilly and Chris Matthews. When it’s good, it’s really good. And when it’s bad, it’s still pretty darn good.

Pros

  • Colbert is fearless
  • Skewers media talking heads
  • Influences public discourse
  • Creates watercooler buzz
  • Truthiness factor high

Cons

  • Occasionally off-target
  • Sometimes too base
  • Sometimes beats an issue like a dead horse
  • Unkind to bears

Description

  • Airs Monday through Thursday at 11:30 p.m. on Comedy Central, repeating the next day at 8:30 p.m.
  • In 2005’s premiere episode, Colbert coined the word “truthiness.”
  • Truthiness, the word, was named by the American Dialect Society as its 2005 “Word of the Year.”
  • Colbert feuds with liberal (and fictional) radio talk show host Russ Lieber (David Cross).
  • The Colbert/Leiber feud mimicks Bill O’Reilly’s feud with Al Franken.
  • The character Colbert’s fear of bears is based on the real Colbert’s childhood fear of bears.

Guide Review - Overview: The Colbert Report with Stephen Colbert

Formatted like most political pundit shows, such as The O’Reilly Factor – its main target – The Colbert Report is only one-third talk show. The remaining two-thirds is reserved for host Stephen Colbert’s wicked political satire. And it is wicked.

Each episode begins with a review of the day’s news items followed by The Report’s popular editorial feature “The Word,” during which Colbert’s comments are juxtaposed with bullet-pointed on-screen text, usually countering or deflating Colbert’s “pompous” position.

Recurring features include “Better Know a District,” in which Colbert presents and interviews representatives from one of the U.S.’s 433 congressional districts, and “The Threat Down,” in which the top five threats to the U.S. are presented (the list always includes bears, a childhood fear of Colbert’s).

Colbert’s guests run the gamut, but include a number of political and media figures, such as Bob Woodward and Madeline Albright. During the interview segment, Colbert stays in character and “debates” each guest, but in such a way as to give them an “open mic,” so to speak, to voice their views without interruption. It’s a subtle game and Colbert plays it well.

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