The Colbert Report’s Stephen Colbert Talks Life, Fear, and his Predictions for the Future

Today marks the seventh anniversary of Comedy Central’s hit “The Colbert Report” starring hilarious Emmy winning comedian, host, writer and executive producer Stephen Colbert. The highly accomplished and intelligent Colbert battled through adolescence, he lost his father and brother in a tragic plane crash when he was a young child, and found comfort through acting and science fiction. Lucky for us, he found comedy and the rest is history. Stephen spoke with Playboy magazine recently and we’re proud to share an excerpt of the interview with you!




A Candid Conversation with Comedy Central’s Other Satiric Genius about Politics, Grief, Growing Up and Why It’s Terrible When Bill O’Reilly Acts Normally

“I have no interest in behaving or thinking cynically. But it’s an easy trap to be cynical about anything, certainly when you’re talking about politics or the media,” said Comedy Central’s faux news pundit Stephen Colbert. Or more accurately, the character he plays “Stephen Colbert.” Playboy’s November Interview reveals Colbert’s serious side. After suffering the loss of a parent as a child, Colbert found solace in science fiction and acting.  He wound up the host of a top ranked primetime talk show, and this year was named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World. Following are selected quotes from the comedian’s November Playboy Interview (issue on newsstands and Friday, October 19, with the complete interview available at

On being his alter ego, “Stephen Colbert”:  “Some people perceive me as an assassin or at least someone who can slip under your guard with a knife. But if you watch what I do, that’s almost never the case. It rarely turns into anything combative.”
On his right-wing counterparts:  “Take Mr. Bill O’Reilly. He was a perfectly lovely guest, but he wouldn’t be his personality. He wasn’t an unpleasant person. I have no complaints other than the fact that I booked Bill O’Reilly and I got William O’Reilly.”

On human behavior:  “I’m surprised there aren’t more unbalanced people in the world, because being alive is not easy. We’re just not that nice to one another. We’re all we have, and Jesus, are we sh*tty to one another. We really are.”

On joining a cult:  “I’m interested in what makes someone a cult figure and what engenders cult adherence, what engenders that behavior … I’d love to be a cult member, just another loyal follower. It sounds very comforting.”

On his friendship with Jon Stewart:  “I would say the thing that has kept me from being as good a friend to Jon as I would like is just that I’m such a fan. I am gobsmacked by his abilities. But that being said, we go out to dinner, and we sometimes pick up the phone just to say, ‘How are you?’ Or, ‘Do you mind if I tell you how I am? I had a shitty week.’”

On fear:  “I suppose fear is like a drug. A little bit isn’t that bad, but you can get addicted to the consumption and distribution of it. What’s evil is the purposeful distribution of fear … If you’re injecting fear into other people, then you’re trying to kill their minds. You’re trying to get them to stop thinking … Fear is an attempt to impose tyranny over someone’s mind. It’s an act of oppression.”

On the death of his father and brother (in a plane crash when Colbert was 10):  “Any curiosity I have probably comes from my dad. He was a big thinker, a true intellectual. His idea of a good time was to read French philosophy, often French Christian philosophy

On grief:  “It’s just as keen but not as present. But it will always accept the invitation. Grief will always accept the invitation to appear. It’s got plenty of time for you … I’ve always liked that phrase He was visited by grief, because that’s really what it is. On his teenage science fiction fandom:  “In some ways it was about escape. I think there’s absolute truth in escaping the reality of your present predicament. And that can just be about being young. It doesn’t have to be a tragedy. There’s a tragedy to being 13. Things are changing. Friends are changing. Your body is changing. You need to escape that. My additional emotional crises don’t necessarily explain my interest in it.”

On extending his contract through 2014: “I try not to think of it in terms of years. You can’t do 161 shows. It can’t be done. All I can do is today and tomorrow and have some idea of what we’re doing next week. That’s all I can worry about. I have a script for today, I have probably half a script for tomorrow, and that’s as far down the road as I ever look. I know the mechanism of my show, and I know how it works. There’s a joy in that.”


On predicting the future: “I have no exhaustion in doing the show. I have no idea what’s going to happen tomorrow. I can’t predict what we’ll be trying to make jokes about in the next six months. I don’t know what the next super PAC game will be for us or who will win the election. You can’t plan for any of that. If I thought I knew what was going to happen, it wouldn’t be worth doing. The challenge is how joyfully, with what sense of fun and adventure and playfulness, we will greet it. We don’t have to look for what the next thing will be. If experience is any judge, it’ll come flowing toward us like a river.”











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