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Who is Stephen Colbert? A brief biography about the talk show host

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Who is Stephen Colbert? A brief biography about the talk show host Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Stephen was Born …:

… on May 13, 1964, in Sumter, South Carolina. He’s the baby among 11 children, fathered by James Colbert, a prominent faculty member at the Medical University of South Carolina, and Lorna Colbert, a home manager.

Growing up with Stephen:

Born in Sumter, but raised on James Island, Stephen was taught the importance of intellectualism and questioning authority.

Stephen lost his father and two brothers in a plane crash in 1974. The time afterward was a difficult. Stephen reports feeling adrift and detached, but found resolve in reading and role-playing games. He says he developed some early improvisational skills through the games.

Stephen began classes at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, but then transferred to Northwestern University. At Northwestern, he studied acting and became involved with the improv troupe, ImprovOlympic.

Stephen’s First Job:

Right out of college – for the most part – Stephen flew north to Chicago and joined the famed Second City troupe. Before ever landing on stage, he sold souvenirs in the concession stand and studied under fellow Daily Show correspondent/co-star Steve Carell.

Given the opportunity to produce a sketch comedy show for Comedy Central, Stephen, along with fellow Second City actors Amy Sedaris and Paul Dinello, jumped at the chance, producing the critically acclaimed, but short lived Exit 57.

The Early Years:

After Exit 57, Stephen briefly worked on The Dana Carvey Show and Saturday Night Live. He even had a short stint with Good Morning America as a humorist. That job led him to The Daily Show.

He was hired by The Daily Show on a trial basis in 1997, while Craig Kilborn was host. After Jon Stewart took over in 1999, Stephen role – and popularity – grew. Stephen’s trademark “know-it-all news guy” became a staple, along with a series of popular segments, including “The Week in God,” a satirical religious piece that included “The God Machine”, and “Even Steph(v)en,” a Crossfire parody with fellow correspondent Steve Carell.

Becoming a Talk Show Host:

It was originally just a Daily Show gag. A commercial teaser parody about an ultra-right wing talk show host – in the vein of Bill O’Reilly or Rush Limbaugh. But that sparked an idea. Could a parody show like this actually take off? Stephen and Jon Stewart thought so – and pitched the idea to Comedy Central. They liked it and today The Colbert Report, hosted by Stephen in character as a blustery political pundit, is one of Comedy Central’s top-rated shows.

Key Moment in His Career:

Go way back to Stephen’s college days and his realization that his true passion was acting. Had he stuck with philosophy at Hampden-Sydney College, we may not be able to say we’re proud members of the Colbert Nation.

What Does the Future Hold?:

The entertainment world is fairly open to Stephen. He’s rumored to be the next host of the Grammy Awards and is starting to pick up guest-starring roles in television and film (he played a master forger and murderer on Law & Order). Educated guesses would suggest that Stephen will eventually move into feature films or network television. Who knows? Only time – and Stephen Colbert – will tell.

And Just for Fun:

  • Colbert is deaf in his right ear, as he has no eardrum in it.

  • Colbert is a self-described Democrat.

  • He is a practicing Roman Catholic and a Sunday school teacher.

  • Starred in Strangers with Candy, another Comedy Central series, while concurrently working on The Daily Show.

  • Often offers his voice to animation, from Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law to SNL’s Ambiguously Gay Duo.

  • Stephen – along with Paul Dinello and Amy Sedaris – is the author of Wigfield.

  • Holds a doctorate in fine arts from Knox College .

  • Is famous for popularizing the word “truthiness.”

  • Has a Hungarian bridge named after him (the result of an Internet voting contest). The bridge, however, cannot be named for Colbert until he can speak Hungarian fluently and is dead.

  • Famously (or infamously) roasted President George W. Bush at the 2006 White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner.

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