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October 7, 2015

Stephen Colbert at the White House

by Annie Wu, posted Apr 30th 2006 10:21AM
Stephen ColbertI tuned in to watch Stephen Colbert provide the entertainment at the White House Correspondents' Association dinner (Fun Fact: Teenage fangirls will watch C-SPAN for hot fake-pundits). Colbert looked just as handsome as ever, and his wife looked beautiful (there go my chances of stealing the man away). When President Bush and Laura Bush walked in, Colbert was already situated at the head table (just five seats away from Bush and right next to Helen Thomas!) but stood up to shake hands. I couldn't help but wonder if Bush had ever seen The Colbert Report before, but I guess he knows about the jokes, because Bush gave Colbert a knowing look while greeting him.

When Mark Smith was introducing everyone at the head table, Colbert received a glorious amount of applause (no doubt about it: significantly more cheers than Mr. President). He stood up and pointed to the crowd, making it very clear that he was in-character already. I immediately thought to myself, "Uh-oh, this could mean trouble."

After the introductions, everyone had dinner, so there was a gap of over an hour before Colbert did his speech. I tuned in and out of the in-between material, which was  okay, I guess. Polite, grown-up, "roasting the boss, but not enough to get fired" jokes.

I was a little worn out from the speeches by the time Colbert took the podium. His speech was very funny. I would have laughed out loud more if I wasn't so busy cringing. No lie. The audience barely responded (unless you consider awkward silence a response) and I could feel Colbert fans everywhere twitching with anxiety. While other speakers made silly jokes about Bush's mispronunciations and the cramped workspaces of the press, Colbert took no prisoners and made jokes about everything from NSA wire-tapping to Bush's horrible approval rating to Valerie Plame. If he had done this material on The Colbert Report, everyone would have laughed like nothing was out of place... But at the dinner, Bush was right there. Right there. Just a few feet away from Colbert. This made me (and many fans) excruciatingly uncomfortable. I don't know if the lack of laughter (save for one or two jokes out of dozens) was because people were afraid to laugh with Bush so near or if they genuinely thought Colbert was being unfunny. Personally, I thought his performance was wickedly strong (albeit slightly recycled from his show), but the circumstances made everything awkward.

He also presented an audition tape for the position of Press Secretary. I was really surprised/happy to see Helen Thomas putting on a great show in a special appearance and I laughed numerous times (some favorite parts: "NOOOOOOO! NOOOO!"; key-fumbling; Karl & Stephen). It looked like something pulled right out of The Colbert Report. This was a lot more light-hearted than the preceding speech, so I expected the audience to be hooting with laughter once it ended. How wrong I was. Helen Thomas was in tears, but everyone else was just clapping politely. No cheers, no standing ovation. Poor Stephen... I wanted to crawl into the TV and give him a hug.

But y'know what? Stephen Colbert -- not character-Colbert, but the real guy -- has BALLS. Seriously. That took massive brass steel ADAMANTIUM balls to do. Part of me wished that he didn't stay in character to save himself the pain, but another part of me is really glad he did that. He took his truthiness to the belly of the beast and he should be commended for that.

To Mr. Colbert: I, and the rest of the Colbert Nation, love you.

[EDIT] Crooks and Liars has video.

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Gerhard Gehrmann

When did the truth have to be funny?
Why should the president be immune from genuine inquiry at any time? He is the representive of Washingtone power, and is a public figure 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and as such is always "fair" game for criticism. The media and the reporters didn't find it funny because the truth of Colbert cut far too close the bone.

This was satire not comedy. Colbert's performance will never be "funny", but it will always be satirical.

May 20 2006 at 9:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

this was wonderful, finally the controlled media gets something thet didnt expect, what ever happened to independent reporting and free thinking in this country.

May 06 2006 at 11:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
dosa kim

Colbert's address to the president was f*cking brilliant. Going into the lion's den and looking the president straight in the eye and telling him everything that is wrong with america on national television is not everyday. Some might say he was juvenile, but the president should be thinking about our country 24/7, if thats what it takes - then thats what it takes. Does it make sense that our nation is in turmoil and incompetent law makers and media personnel pat each other on the back and tell the president what a fine job hes doing with the country? Colbert edgy? jeez - Its people like Bush that make people like Colbert.

May 05 2006 at 2:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Irene Freeman

This was beyond funny.
What a gift his roast was to all of us who value the Truth.
Thank you, thank you, Mr. Colbert!

May 05 2006 at 9:34 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tom Davis

Whether you think Colbert was funny or appropriate or not is beside the point. His performance was magnificent: audacious and admirable. This will go down in history as one of the most courageous face-to-face attacks ever delivered to a sitting president.

Bush took it without flinching, not because hes stupid, but because hes scared. He fears he will go down in history, as he will, as the worst president the US has ever had. Unfortunately, the media are even more scared, scared of saying anything that might make them lose ratings or readers.

Stephen Colbert spoke truth to "truthiness." The fools who invited him apparently didn't realize that he would do on stage what he does on TV every day: remove the emperor's fig leaf. He used his bully pulpit to call the President a lying bastard and the press a flock of chickenshit hacks not because it was funny, but because they so richly deserved it, and because it needed to be said.

May 03 2006 at 12:52 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Stephen Colbert has been collectively ignored by the media.

If you think about it, in this era of Free speech zones, no one has ever been allowed to have 15 uninterrupted minutes in the presence of president Bush to enumerate some of the ways his administration has lied and failed. and this event was remarkable, if 4 years overdue. :)

The best part:


Colbert crossed the line, said one top Bush aide, who rushed out of the hotel as soon as Colbert finished. Another said that the president was visibly angered by the sharp lines that kept coming.

Ive been there before, and I can see that he is [angry], said a former top aide. Hes got that look that hes ready to blow.


in case you missed it:

Part I: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lcIRXur61II
Part II: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HN0INDOkFuo

May 02 2006 at 9:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Nice of all the Republican and press apologists to chime in that Colbert wasn't funny. Who cares if he was funny or not? The point is, the man was 8 feet away from the President and let loose. Why should Bush be protected from the anger he's let loose in the world? Why should a man who celebrates his incuriousity be uncomfortable when someone parodies this? And why should the Press that kowtowed to the Administration's lies until disaster struck be given a free pass on their epiphany of the obvious? None of that is funny.

May 02 2006 at 6:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think the absence of explosive laughter in the audience was partially due to the disbelief that someone would have the balls to attack so directly the administration. When he jokes of anything but the Bush gang, everybody laughs out loud, that's some sign. Anyway, kudos, for a speech that is not so much funny as it is some Truthiness that had to be delivered in the face of W, without any fear of a mic cut or any pre-staged questions.

May 02 2006 at 11:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It was truly beautiful to behold. Colbert, in those few minutes, communicated more truth and held the politicians on the dais to greater account than any of the correspondents in the audience.

The audience was simply afraid to laugh and that is just further proof of how worthless they are in their status as White House reporters. The administration can simply give them the boot if they want, revoke privileges or snub them if they wish as retribution for making Bush and pals look bad. So woe to those who could have been seen laughing too hard at Colbert. Of course, a reporter shoved aside by the the White House loses standing at work too. He's replaced, demoted etc. The stakes are double, so they suck up to Bush and pals and merely echo the doubletalk and trickled out tidbits of actual fact given to them by McLellan, Fleischer, Snow etc.

Now Helen Thomas doesn't have to give a crap what she asks but obviously her comments had put her in a sort of detention whereby Bush refused to call on her for years. Previously she was granted first question due to her seniority.

Colbert popped a big freakin balloon of hot air with his routine. He was much more cutting than any report from the White House has been in at least the last 6 years. The White House press has continually failed us by not taking Bush to task for his failings and Colbert made it obvious.

He rocked. Whether the laughter was there or not. He rocked and deserves another Peabody award just for that appearance alone. The few people reacting negatively here apparently are uncomfortable with the truth upon which Colbert's jabs were based.

Viva Colbert.

May 02 2006 at 3:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If you want to make your happiness with Colbert felt, check out http://www.thankyoustephencolbert.org. And for a wonderfully thoughtful piece on why Colbert had such balls and why the press was unresponsive, check out this Salon article: http://www.salon.com/opinion/feature/2006/05/01/colbert/print.html

But, actually, if you watch the full video (in three parts on YouTube, as someone up-comments has noted), you'll hear a lot of laughter and you'll also see people's shocked faces. My favorites are a woman in a blue shawl trying to hide her laughter, and another about midway, when people have completely realized that Colbert is in Take No Prisoners mode, who, when Colbert mentioned Laura Bush, simply whispers, "Oh GOD," as if she fears what's coming.

I have to say I'm amused by KA's comments, above, claiming that most Americans don't want the Democrats anywhere near power. Actually, polls show that most Americans (aside from disapproving of this president) are leaning towards the Dems to bring sanity and honesty back to this country once the midterms occur in November.

So, we'll see, won't we?

May 01 2006 at 5:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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