I’ve seen almost every episode of The Colbert Report, save a month’s worth in 2006, when I was in London and my cable at home wasn’t hooked up. (I’ve also seen just about every Daily Show, beginning way back before Jon took over.) I haven’t always seen the episodes close to the day they aired (my DVR can hold a lot), and I’m often working while I have it on, turning The Report into something more akin to a radio show, but I never wanted to go without it.
Alexander and I watched the first episode together. He, being young, declared that he didn’t like it–Stephen was too mean. I pointed out that Stephen was doing a satire–and that his character was sort of a cross between Bill O’Reilly and Stone Phillips (his first guest). Alex was won over then too.
Today, I watched my last episode (which happened to be the penultimate episode). Quite frankly, I’d been putting it off because I didn’t want the show to end.
The Colbert Report provided us with many joys–great writing, a host able to use his improv training to great effect in interviews, some amazing recurring segments (The Word, Formidable Opponent, etc.), and a front row view to the rise of The Colbert Nation, resulting in several people getting the Colbert bump and in Colbert’s name and fame touching everything from The National Gallery to the International Space Station.
However, the best thing it has provided for me is a wonderful tool for teaching satire, as I’m wont to do. The show isn’t the only satire on TV, but it’s consistently one of the best. It was a gamble for Stephen to take this character from TDS & give him a full half-hour. After all, while there are moments of satire on TDS, Jon plays a straight man to his correspondents. In fact, when I want to illustrate satire on TDS, I often go back to an old report of Stephen’s–“Fruit Juice.”
Part of the risk has been born out–people often don’t get straight satire, which is why more Republicans watch The Report than TDS, even though Stephen’s character mocks them so derisively. I have had students report that their Republican parents have given them Colbert’s books — to help them return to their conservative roots.
I could go on and on about this amazing television extravaganza, but let me just simply say that I’ll miss him. I know that the actor Stephen Colbert will be back on TV in the Fall, but if there have been over 1400 episodes, that means I’ve spent over 700 hours with his pundit character. One of my longest relationships is at an end (except for when I pull up those videos for future satire students).
I’m also gonna miss that ass.