Up Close with Colbert

This might be the blog post you’ve all been waiting for. The man himself, Stephen Colbert, set aside time from his busy afternoon of writing, rewriting, and rehearsing to talk to UVA’s Media Studies Majors for the second year running!

We had a mountain of questions for out-of-character-Stephen and he proved to be an extremely articulate, analytical person. He emphasized that he was a comedian first, but his years of political satire have clearly given him a firm understanding on how the mass media works and the role his jokes play in it. He compared his media ripple effects to improvisation. When he says something the public, politicians, journalists, and television personalities react to it. Then, he plays off the reactions and a story builds up around the exchange. It seems that the whole world is playing one large improv game with Mr. Colbert!

A perfect example was seen in the last blog post. Stephen flexed his muscles by challenging his Nation (the Colbert Nation. Are you a citizen?) to fundraise $300K for the U.S. Olympic Speed Skating Team. Why? Because he could! The Team lost their sponsor and Colbert’s personality managed to make an international event revolve around himself. After all, Stephen Colbert’s alter ego firmly believes that he is the story and he is the news. Being the third celebrity to grace the cover of Sports Illustrated is certainly news.

During the Q&A time with Stephen students asked him about his journey from actor to writer to comedian. He described the philosophy of his show in comparison to his old gig on The Daily Show. While The Daily Show aims to point out hypocrisy and inconsistency, The Colbert Report tries to mimic it.

To show our gratitude to Mr. Colbert, the Media Studies Department gave him White Spot Tee Shirts for both him and his wife, UVA Alumna Evelyn McGee-Colbert. Last year he mentioned his love for the Grillswith, a grilled glazed donut served with vanilla ice cream. We hope the Colberts enjoy the shirts and come to Charlottesville for a visit!

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