The Colbert Retort

Mark Smith, ladies and gentlemen of the press corps, Madame First Lady, Mr. President, my name is Stephen Colbert and tonight it’s my privilege to celebrate this president. We’re not so different, he and I. We get it. We’re not brainiacs on the nerd patrol. We’re not members of the factinista. We go straight from the gut, right sir? that’s where the truth lies, right down here in the gut. Do you know you have more nerve endings in your gut than you have in your head? You can look it up. I know some of you are going to say “I did look it up, and that’s not true.” that’s ’cause you looked it up in a book.

Stephen Colbert has bigger balls than you. I don’t know what routine he submitted for review before his appearance at the White House Correspondents’ dinner, but I doubt it was the text of the blistering 12-minute satirical rant that ripped the president, seated about 10 feet away from him, to shreds, with plenty of ammunition left for the press themselves. It was funny, then awkward, then almost painful to watch as Colbert pressed forward, determined to get to the end despite an audience that was either too offended or scared to laugh most of the time. The pacing and the delivery of the whole bit is off, and you could cut the tension in the room with a knife. This was the kind of performance comics dread — Colbert was stuck up there trying to salvage an act that was bombing in front of everyone in the room and watching on C-Span. But you know what? I think that’s exactly what he anticipated.

As a comic performance he may have missed the mark, but the jokes were definitely not meant to amuse the audience. They were for the rest of us. The audience was nothing but a roomful of sitting ducks, and Colbert brought a big gun, and a smile. The audience was meant to grow steadily more uncomfortable, as Colbert dared everyone in the room to remain polite as he delivered what was probably the most scathing critique the president has probably ever heard. Right to his face. While smiling, and pretending to love the man.

Watch the clips (parts one, two, three) and/or read the transcript to witness freedom of speech in action.

One thought on “The Colbert Retort”

  1. I watched this this morning… I think Stephen Colbert has bigger balls than ANYONE.
    Brilliant. Hilarious. Who cares about the timing? He got his point across.
    I wonder if anyone lost their job over that. I liked his little bow to laura bush as he was walking away, too. You can see the whole thing here. All 25 minutes of it.

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