Stephen Colbert has been deemed a genius because of his thought-provoking, left-wing political satire. Now he will see even more fame as he succeeds David Letterman as the host of The Late Show. The rising news television star has admitted to having many influences; these ranged to when he first studied to be an actor, to his claim to fame in the Colbert Report. The people who most influence his right-wing caricature are the ones he met when he turned to improvisation.
The young actor attended Northwestern University, where he met the famous Second City director, Del Close. He went on to act with Second City touring company understudying Steve Carell’s role. He met actors Amy Sedaris and Paul Dinello on this tour. when Sedaris and Dinello were offered to create a television show in New York City, he decided to go along. They created Exit 57, a sketch comedy series that aired on Comedy Central. They went on to later create another cult hit Strangers With Candy.
The actor received much more attention when he began work with Jon Stewart. On The Daily Show, Colbert created a character that acted as a news correspondent. The character would have interviews with important people, report live on the scene, take polls and more. Stephen Colbert’s genius performance in this show is what finally brought him into the spotlight. Stewart helped the correspondent come up with a character. They used traits pulled from various famous news reporters, but added the factor that he was a complete ignorant imbecile.
In interviews Colbert has admitted to having a nerdy past, that he also thinks contributed to his skills in improvisational acting. In adolescence he grew an obsession over fantasy novels and Dungeons & Dragons. He began reading science fiction novels in the fifth grade, but over three years started delving into authors like J.R.R. Tolkien. He states that these tools were the first framework for his earliest improvisational acting exercises.
Colbert also admitted to sometimes agreeing with his Bill O’Reilly Character. He does not want viewers to know, so he says he takes extra care in covering it up. In an interview with Oprah he talks about how his views are often aligning more with conservative politics. This fact may even be the reason why he is so good at these characters, because he is a man who is very good at making fun of himself. He claims that these characters were created to make his viewers think. He hyperbolizes situations to make people really understand the severity, or scale of the issues at hand.
The Colbert Report anchorman will likely be retiring many of his satirical characters as he heads into his new role as the anchorman of The Late Show. Many viewers will be sad to see the disappearance of his O’Reilly Factor, a fan favorite from the show. It is truly comedic that his completely satirical character could be known as one of the most influential people in America. This goes to show Stephen Colbert’s genius is in his ability to use humor to speak truth.
Opinion by Joshua Shane