The Last Colbert Report Says Good Bye To Stephen Colbert And One Of The Most Unique Voices In Comedy.

This Thursday night saw the ending of The Colbert Report. Having gone for nine years and over fourteen hundred episodes, Stephen Colbert has left Comedy Central to take over for […]

This Thursday night saw the ending of The Colbert Report. Having gone for nine years and over fourteen hundred episodes, Stephen Colbert has left Comedy Central to take over for David Letterman, which made me wonder if the people behind the ‘Cancel Colbert’ movement had made a wish upon a monkey paw since it required him to retire the character with the same name. While I wish Stephen Colbert well on his new endeavor and will watch his show the night it airs, I feel something of a sorrow to see the character of Stephen Colbert go. There was a unique magic to Colbert, a dedicated parody that ended up growing into a mad, beautiful character with a life of his own.

Stephen Colbert started out as a clear-cut parody of Bill O’Reilly. His first episode featured ‘truthiness’ which was a word mocking the gut-based emotional responses that typified O’Reilly. One of my favorite moments of the show came when Colbert managed to get O’Reilly to come on his show’ ‘Don’t you see!’ O’Reilly cried. ‘This is all an act.’ This prompted a dumbfounded Colbert to reply ‘If you’re an act, then what am I?” Of course Colbert couldn’t have lasted nearly a decade without evolving. Colbert grasped the ideas of a comical blowhard and grew him out into an auteur egotist, having had his own superpac, talking about a series of novels where his self-insert was the most heroic womanizer in space, holding a years-long grudge with K-pop artist Rain that culminated in a dance-off, and much more.

While The Report was a current events show, there was a wonderful sense of evolution and character development in the show, a breath of life that more direct satire shows like Daily Show and Last Week Tonight just couldn’t create. Colbert created a rolling group of supporting characters, some of who were real people, as well as creating dramatic insecurities and unfulfilled desires for the character of Stephen Colbert. These were all played for laughs, but the combination of the real-world events and mini-drama of madman who used his TV show to speak both about current events and things he found to be personal slights worked to not just satirize the news pundit scene of twenty-four hour news media but also to give it a level of entertainment in and of itself that wasn’t automatically connected to the day-to-day.

Colbert worked not entirely unlike a sitcom character. He would combine aspects of himself to his played persona which worked to enrich the character as he managed to show genuine glee at accomplishing childhood dreams. I’m not particularly fond of the Hobbit movies, but his glee at covering the movie, being able to be a part of them, and most recently interview ‘Smaug’ have just the right combination of wish fulfillment and genuine professional comedy to infect you. There’s a lot of talk of ‘nerds’ in television right now -both negative and positive- but Colbert brought both eloquence and passion to his own interests that I haven’t seen done in a high profile television show. Certainly people have played the buffoonish blowhard that comically misses the point. The correspondents of The Daily Show do it all the time. However, Colbert took to this position not simply as a strawman -though he often was that- but looking into the source of the hypocrisy and thoughts of those he lampooned. It wasn’t just a matter of calling people childish but reaching at the roots of the childish urges they were expressing.

Some may notice I haven’t spoken much about Colbert’s politics. That’s because I don’t find them particularly interesting or what made Colbert interesting or special as a performer. It’s well known that Colbert’s work is largely liberal satire watched by liberals. His politics themselves were things you could find in plenty of other comedies and satirists. I could parade around quotes of his I love that reflect my own leftist values and how he took a perfect look into some issue, but the way he blew his whistle was just as important and far more unique. Many people can make a sarcastic diatribe to dress down their opponents but Colbert’s method was a bit more intricate. By adopting their arguments wholeheartedly he managed to fully communicate the inanity. It’s a wonder no one else has tried to imitate it, perhaps because the dedication to play a character that runs contrary to your actual beliefs for four nights a week for nearly a decade takes a level of diligence that many people aren’t willing to put in.

The Colbert Report ended with the same kind of winky fantasy excursions that the show often found itself exercising. A heartfelt song with Jon Stewart and numerous of his past guest may have seemed like a good enough send-up, but Colbert embraced a more mythic end to his larger-than-life persona. Having gained immortality, Colbert goes off into the night with Santa Claus and Abraham Lincoln. It’s silly and overblown, but oddly touching and heartfelt. A perfect ending to the show.I can only give best wishes to Stephen Colbert, both the comedian taking over for David Letterman and the now immortal friend of Santa and Abraham Lincoln.