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Hubster Anais0509 sent us this wonderful “Taping ReporT” of her trip to the April, 4th, 2012 taping of “The Colbert Report”.
Hello, everyone! As some of you may or may not know, I attended my very first TCR taping last year in July, and since then I’ve been hungry for another chance to go back and see Stephen again. When I checked my weekly schedule for that first week in April, I was surprised, but also a little thrilled, to find that I didn’t have work on Wednesday, nor did I have anything really pressing that needed to be done. So I thought, what could possibly be a better way of spending a rare day off in the middle of the week with no urgent obligations to fulfill than to attend a taping, especially when my 6-month wait period was long past? In my job, I have to be prepared to work any day of the week, and it’s rare that I get a day off during the week (especially the days when TDS and TCR are taped). I knew that if I didn’t take this opportunity, I’d regret it, since there’s often no telling when I’ll have another day off on an appropriate taping day in the future.
Between the two guests that day, I decided that Stephen’s sounded more interesting than Jon’s. Then I set about trying to get a ticket last minute. Even though I’m still not really a Twitter fiend (Twitterhead? Tweeter? I have no idea what the official term is … if there’s one at all), I’m forever grateful for now being able to have immediate access to around-the-clock taping ticket release announcements courtesy of @DailyTix. So early Tuesday afternoon while at work, in between answering phone calls and checking my Twitter feed, I saw that 2 TCR tickets for 4/4 had been released. I then quickly switched from the Twitter window to the CN ticket page window, feverishly filled out the form for 1 ticket, clicked SEND (while holding my breath), then, once I got the reservation e-mail, confirmed my reservation (while exhaling), and I was all set. I’m still a little amazed at how lucky I was. Preparing ahead of time and being in ready mode is key when you want a ticket very much. And so, Wednesday awaited.
Just like last time, I was so excited and anxious that I went to bed too late and got up too early, but I trusted that the enthusiasm of the TCR taping audience would be enough to energize me. I left my Queens apartment at around 11:45am and took the subway into Manhattan, where after having some lunch and walking around a bit, I started making my way to the TCR studio. At this time it was almost 1:30pm. I was heading there early because I was determined to be first in line. As I drew closer to my destination, I could feel the anticipation and excitement building, but there was also a touch of nervousness mixed in. I guess I wasn’t sure what to expect, along with the looming novelty of seeing Stephen again, which is always cause for any fangirl to get butterflies. But fortunately it didn’t last long; once I saw that signature blue awning with white lettering in the distance, all those feelings evaporated away and a squee rose up from my chest, accompanied with a voluminous smile. It was like seeing an old friend again after a long absence, a most wonderful feeling to have.
When I arrived at the studio, something else made me really happy: I was the very 1st person, exactly as I had hoped. No one else around. Of course, the waiting area was locked up since it was still early, so I just settled down near the waiting area and started the laborious, but ultimately rewarding, process of waiting. About 15 minutes later, an Indian woman came along who was there for the taping too, and, after exchanging a few words, I promised to hold her spot in line while she went off to get something to eat. Then a janitor came to open up the waiting area, swept up the place a bit and then left, at which point I got up and took my place in line.
The Indian woman soon came back with munchies, took her spot next to me as audience Member #2 (since she did get there after me and before everyone else who was just started to arrive), and we started chatting with each other. I learned that her name was Trijya, she was a statistics professor at a small Syracuse college who’d done her undergrad work and masters in India but got her Ph-D at Texas A&M before moving to Syracuse, and had come all the way to Manhattan just for Stephen. She was super excited as this was her first TCR taping (a friend of hers introduced her to the show right around the time it started, and she’s been a fan ever since), and we had a grand time talking about Stephen and his/Jon’s influence and Stephen and the stupidity of politics and media and Stephen and getting to know each other and Stephen. But we also interacted with the other audience members in line; we tried to solve a crossword puzzle, compared other taping experiences, or even just chatted. This batch of audience members was friendlier than last time, which was a nice change.
It was pretty low-key from then on, with the only downsides being the lack of comfortable seating and cold blustery winds that my flimsy outfit was no match for. At about 4pm, 2 interns came and started checking people’s names on the list. I felt a huge sense of pride to be the very first one checked off the list, knowing that I was now officially FIRST IN LINE. Hopefully that meant good things for me. We waited for a long time, and we were also trying to stay warm against the relentlessly chilly wind. The only exciting thing that happened the whole time was at 5:20pm, when I had a Paul Dinello sighting. He was walking in the opposite direction of the studio, and he turned around briefly while still walking and I saw that he was on his cell phone. I guessed maybe he was on a last minute errand or something. But apart from that, nothing much.
Finally, at 5:45pm, a girl came along and started giving us numbered cards according to where we were in line. And here is proof that I was #1(!!!):
We started being let in at this time, finally. When I entered through the side door, I saw the bald and perpetually serious-looking bodyguard who always waits outside every night after the show for Stephen standing behind the table where he checks your bag before you go through the full-body metal detector. To be honest, I’ve always been a little scared of him, because he always looks so serious. But this time, he smiled at me. Not a big one, but he definitely smiled at me, which took me aback but appreciated all the same and helped put me more at ease. I don’t think he remembers me from last time, if he ever took notice of me at all, so I think the very possible reason he smiled at me was because he saw my Barnes and Noble Stephen Colbert tote bag and guessed that I was a fangirl. Hey, if it’ll put me in better favour with him, then great. He asked if he could check my bag and I told him to go right ahead while I took off my belt and made sure I had no metals anywhere else on me. Then I walked through the metal detector and he gave me back my bag. I looked around, feeling happier by the minute that I was back.
While the rest of the audience filed in and got checked over, Trijya and I freshened up and then I obligingly took pictures of her for her in front of the (fake) fireplace. It’s nice
to feel like a veteran and to watch first-timers have such a giddy, great time. Of course, the “Best of TCR” DVD was turned on and, as the waiting area filled up, we all started
watching the DVD. I knew from the get-go that most people there were it-getters and that it was going to be a fantastic audience. They were positively guffawing at Stephen’s antics, some even going red in the face. They laughed at everything from Barney Frank to the first WORDs ever done to the Decembrists.
At some point the DVD was muted and Enthusiastic Girl climbed on top of the table and perkily gave us the spiel on how to be a great audience, what not to do etc, then we continued watching the DVD after she was done. By this time it was 7:15pm, when we were supposed to be filing into the studio 15 minutes before, and we were still waiting. Trijya, the poor girl, was exhausted because she’d spent a lot of time walking around and exploring Manhattan before coming to the studio and waiting around was not making it easier, so she was leaning against a wall with her eyes closed. I emphasized with her, remembering how tired I was last time. But it wasn’t last time. It was now. And I was ready to go. Although I did wonder again why Stephen was taking so long.
But finally, the audience coordinator came out and told us that Stephen was finally done rehearsing and he thanked us for being so patient and waiting so long. Then he said that Stephen would be doing the intro credits that night, then went back inside and a boy came up and told us that they would let VIPs in first, in order of card colour (red and white), which they did, and finally in numerical number depending on what number card we got, “starting with…number 1!” To which I flicked my wrist upwards, proudly showing off my card. Some people laughed, which was sort of the effect I was going for. I gave my card to the boy, squared my shoulders back, and jumped down the rabbit hole.
Within a few short seconds, I was standing in the studio, and it was exactly as I remembered it. Right behind me, I could hear Trijya exclaiming in excitement, which made me smile, again reminding me of how I was when I attended my first taping. I felt a bit sad that we weren’t going to sit together, but I hoped that we’d somehow catch each other after the taping. At that point, that’s when the next best thing happened, apart from being first. The Serious-But-Nice Bodyguard (I’m sorry, I don’t know his name, if anyone does please let me know so that I can replace the nicknames I keep coming up with for him!) came up to me and asked me how many were there in my party, and I replied that it was just me. I wondered for a split second where I was going to be seated; I had a pretty good seat last time when I was #7, so there was no telling where I’d be at #1. He looked around the studio for a moment, then he turned back to me and asked, “Would you like to sit in the front row?” I stared back at him for a second, because my brain hadn’t quite processed what he’d just said just yet. Then it did, and my face split wide open into a huge grin and I replied “SURE!” He pointed to a single seat left at the end of the front row on the left side (facing the desk, I mean) where a young couple was sitting and told me that I could sit there next to them. I went over and sat down, and immediately went into freak-out mode. I was sitting in the front row. At the very end, but in the front row. I couldn’t believe it. And I inwardly blessed my decision and determination to get to the studio earlier that day, since it certainly paid off.
As more people filed in and were seated, I contented myself with looking around, and I noted the decoration of the studio that night. Last time it was filled with smoke and star-shaped lights touching every orifice of the studio. This time, every screen around the studio was programmed to show a backdrop of schools of fish swimming in a blue ocean, with blue wave-like lights softly pulsing on the ceiling, giving off an underwater effect. I naively wondered what was up with the ocean theme, then I remembered that Robert Ballard was the guest that night (of course), so it was a nice touch. I like how they decorate the studio before each taping as the audience is filing in. I made small talk with the couple next to me, who were friendlier than the couple I had sat next to last time. It occurred to me that my 2nd taping experience had many parallels to my 1st taping experience, with some minor differences. It was also during this experience that I witnessed 3 odd things, which will be pointed out in this reporT one by one. I looked around to try and find Trijya, and I saw that she’d been seated in the second row at the end of the center. We managed to make eye contact and smiled and waved at each other before going back to observing our surroundings.
At some point, Stephen’s bodyguard started talking to the people in the front row one group at a time. I had a feeling I knew what he was talking about, but, wanting to play along, pretended to feign indifference until he came to me and the couple. He told us how Stephen always comes out to high-five people sitting in the front row, and that he would do that with us, and he told us to keep our hands out but to not step out so that he won’t trip and fall. My anticipation went into overdrive at the very thought of being able to somehow touch Stephen, even for a few precious seconds. I once again blessed my good fortune.
Finally, after yet even more waiting, and when everyone was seated, the stand up act of the night (this time it was Pete Dominic) walked up and started warming us up for Stephen. I enjoyed Pete, but I like Paul Mercurio better. In no particular order, here’s how it went as best as I can remember:
A group of people all dressed up in suits who were from the National Defense University (they jokingly said that they were from a “war college”, which Pete went to town with).
Pete asked if anyone came from overseas to attend the taping, and it was a very international night with people from all over which included a guy from Dublin…Connecticut (he faked an Irish accent for a while before revealing his prank), a guy from Singapore who’s studying law (he talked about Singapore’s very strict policies and penalties, with him and Pete talking about the case of a boy who got caned for graffitti), a guy from Canada (whom Pete passed over) a woman who grew up in Rwanda (Pete made fun of her whenever he said something offensive and she looked upset, saying because she’s “seen it all” in Rwanda), a guy from Switzerland (he and Pete bonded on how Pete met his wife in Switzerland on top of a waterfall, with him crowing “Beat that! You can’t beat that!”), and, of course, my friend Trijya from India (Pete talked about Indians being stereotypically doctors or other intellectual figures, and, as if his point was made, he made a face when Trijya replied that she’s a college professor).
Finally, at long last, Pete got word that Stephen was ready to come out for the Q&A, and thus the joy machine went into motion: first the theme from ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ was played over the speakers, and Pete started getting us pumped up, standing up and cheering and clapping. Right at the peak of our clamour, he called out for Stephen, and out from the interview guest entrance came bursting out Stephen, who took Pete’s microphone and ran around his desk whooping, before beginning the tradition of hi-fiving people. As usual, he started by high-fiving staff on the sides before getting to the people in the front row. I was all set and ready with my hand out just waiting to be high-five him … but … I missed him. The boyfriend of the couple managed to touch Stephen’s hand, but the girlfriend and I both missed him as he went straight from the boyfriend to his staff standing next to us, thus completing his semi-circle. You can see how sitting on the very far end of any row, even the front row, can be a drawback. But my disappointment was tempered by the fact that Stephen still came so close to me, closer than he’s ever been before, and that was good enough for me. Then the music segued into “I Want You To Want Me” by Cheap Tricks, and Stephen bounded into the middle and flipped his microphone into the air and caught it (just barely), to thunderous applause and cheers. Then he took a deep bow and gave us one of his beautiful smiles before motioning us to sit down. He’s just as handsome and lovely as ever. I love this man so much. Seeing him in the flesh again made my body seize up with pleasure and my heart runneth over with joy.
Stephen began by thanking us vehemently and sincerely for being so patient and waiting so long. We’d heard that many times from many people that day already, but we still never know why. Fortunately, we no longer had to wait to find out why. Stephen explained to us that the reason that we had to wait so long and why we were starting the Q&A and taping later than usual was because…he was in jury duty that day. That’s right. Jury duty. No joke. I guess even celebrities have to perform their own civic duties to society, no matter how tedious. He went on to tell us how he was stuck there all day until right around the time of the 7th duty, then, when the clock struck on the hour, the judge or prosecutor (I don’t remember whom) came over and asked if they could speak to him on the side, which they did. He was asked on why on Question #26 on his questionnaire, he wrote down that he thought that the US Security Department was done very poorly? And he said that “he reads a lot about it and thinks that it’s screwed up” (I don’t think he said that verbatim to the prosecutor). Then he was asked something along the lines of if he’d ever want to sit in the place of the prosecutor during jury duty, and he replied with a very vehement “NO!”, saying because of how his character on his show thinks about the whole judicial process in general. He ended his sordid tale with a wry smile and stating how he may have to come back next week for the next 2-3 weeks (I don’t know if that or anything that I said made any sense at all; I was having a hard time following what he was saying, and not because I was overcome by his presence. I apologize). Well, that certainly explained why he was running a little late which then pushed everything else back.
After his completely excusable reason for the delay, he began the Q&A, starting with the innocuous statement of “Does anyone want to ask me something before I say these terrible things on the air?”. Immediately several hands shot up in the air. Just like last time, I didn’t ask him a question, partly because there wasn’t anything burning that I was dying to ask him about, and also because I was shy as usual. I was just content to sit back and listen (while also feverishly trying to memorize everything that I was seeing and hearing). It was a shorter Q&A from last time, most likely because Stephen had kept us waiting so long and he wanted to get to the taping soon, but at least he was still gracious enough to take a handful of questions. Here they are in order:
1. One guy asked him what the people of Wheat Thins thought about “[his] segment” (the Wheat Thins Sponsortunity segment he did a couple months ago, which was a work of genius), and Stephen went on to explain how 4 times a year, he promises to promote a certain product on his show segments, however way he can incorporate them (usually with the goal of getting out the subliminal message of “Eat this!”), and he kept getting very detailed instructions from the Wheat Thins people on the “Wheat Thins lifestyle”, and he couldn’t think of anything more
hilarious for a segment than their e-mails. When he was doing the segment, he was reading through the paper thoroughly making sure that he got out the main points of the e-mails (which were undoubtedly the most hilarious). And what was their reaction? They LOVED it. And now they hope that more products will be promoted the same way, to which Stephen answered with a very ironic look on his face that he hopes not because “that would be a bad idea”.
2. My friend Trijya was picked next. She’d been agonizing over whether to ask Stephen a question or not (because her friends kept pestering her – they knew that she was attending the taping and she was keeping them up to date via text up until we entered the studio), so I was pleased to see her raise her hand. First she congratulated Stephen on his Peabody award, to which Stephen thanked her graciously accompanied with applause from us (they mentioned to us to ask or congratulate Stephen on the Peabody, and she was the only person during the Q&A with the courtesy to do so, as the other questions were more self-serving). Then she asked him her question which was: If you had to choose, would you be the Pope or the President, and what would be the 1st thing that you would do? Stephen said that was a good question and he spent a few moments walking around with a thoughtful look on his face muttering over and over again into his microphone “Pope or President … Pope or President …” Finally he answered that he would be the Pope, because 1) you can’t be “un-Poped”, meaning you can’t be ousted from your position unless you die, become incapacitated (like by illness) or abdicate, unlike the President (but the 3rd option still applies), and 2) the President doesn’t make the rules and can’t really do anything himself, but the Pope can do anything he wants and decree anything he wants, like he (Stephen) would call for “gay marriage for everyone!” or “ice cream for breakfast!” (he said a 3rd decree but I didn’t hear it).
3. Another guy asked him how he deals with getting stomach hair stuck in his belt. For some reason I thought that was a weird question to ask. Stephen replied “I don’t. I shave from the neck down. So from the neck down, I’m like an eel.” That elicited many fangirl squeals.
4. Yet another guy stood up and asked him what was the last song he downloaded on his iPod. Stephen also spent a bit of time racking his brains trying to remember, before finally remembering that the last thing he downloaded was Regina Spektor, because (spoiler alert!) they’re going to have her on the show and he wanted to make sure that he “wanted it” (liked it), which he does.
5. One last guy was picked (he’d been trying to get Stephen’s attention the whole time), and he stood up and said that he was from Teterboro, NJ. What followed was a long, overblown attempt to coerce Stephen into doing something. Here’s what I understood at best: the man explained that there were 58 registered delegates in Teterboro, and that if Stephen came down to the town and convinced them to vote, he could stay there for 30 days and he could legally change the name of the town to Colbert, NJ. I don’t know if that made any sense at all. It didn’t to me. Maybe he was referring to Colbert Super PAC, but again this flew way over my head. Fortunately I wasn’t the only one, which I’m grateful for; Stephen himself seemed a bit baffled trying to wrap that idea around his head, though I think he got it faster than I did. The man kept up his pitch but finally Stephen firmly said no, definitely not, because it didn’t sound legal and he felt like he would be violating something, but he commented that that was interesting that something like that could be allowed to happen.
At that point, he got a sign from someone on the side and he said “Are we ready? Are you ready to do the show (he said this to us)? All right, let’s go!” Then he flipped his microphone towards Mark who was sitting in the center audience section on the steps (who caught it), and he bounded up to the eagle’s nest. Once he got to his desk and sat down, staff members started getting themselves and their cameras into position. And, right on cue, the 3 women who always touch up Stephen before the taping begins walked up to the desk, where Stephen stood up and promptly took off his glasses. One woman touched up his face powder, another adjusted his microphone on his tie, and the third gave his hair the Romney treatment. During the touch-up, Stephen lip-synced to the music that was playing in the background. When the hair lady was doing her job after the other 2 had finished and left, he stopped lip-syncing and looked up at her with an adoring expression on his face, and, right on cue as it always is every night, as she sprayed and patted his hair into place, he reached up and touched her hair back in turn. A few people laughed when he did that, while some fangirls (myself included) looked on in mild envy. After that, he settled into his desk and looked over his script a bit, while also resuming his lip-syncing and also began grooving to the music. Mark walked up to him and started grooving with him also, which was funny to watch. I love how they find fun in every part of the process of putting on the show. They also got serious and talked to each other while occasionally gesturing to the script. When they were done with that, Stephen reached underneath his desk, pulled out a WristStrong bracelet, slipped it on and twirled it around his wrist before pulling it off and flicking it into the audience. He then took out more WristStrong bracelets and flicked them into the audience. Again, I didn’t get one (:(), no matter how rigorously I waved my hand. The BF caught one, but instead of giving it to his GF, he slipped it onto his own wrist.
Finally, everything was all set. Stephen got into position, and Mark started counting down. It’s always so intriguing to see the slow transformation from Stephen to “Stephen” right in front of your eyes. When Mark got down to one, Stephen launched into the intro. It was so cool to see the intro from the inside, when he turns to different cameras and gives out the bullet points for that night’s show. At the conclusion, when he almost broke character at the part when he’s talking about the NFL’s new uniforms, I thought he’d redo the intro again, but he left it alone and sallied forth toward the start of the theme song. As the theme song played, I could feel the anticipation of the whole crowd, especially when we were watching Mark holding up his rolled up newspaper at the ready. Before the eagle cry even rang out, Mark twirled his baton, and we stood up and cheered and clapped as hard as we could, while Stephen drank in our madness. And with that, the taping began.
Shameless plug here: you can actually see me for a few seconds(!!!!!). Depending on what video you watch (if you watch the full episode, the time slot is from 0:53-0:55; if you catch just the clip, it’s from 0:00-0:01), I’m the blurry figure at the end of the front row on the left facing the desk, with a blue top (actually a blue-and-white gingham pattern, but obviously you can’t see that on screen), jeans and my arms and hands up over my head clapping furiously (if someone could make a screencap of that, I will love you forever). Not bad for my first (sort-of-maybe-not-really) TV appearance/debut, huh?
Our cheering was a little off. About two-thirds of the audience were chanting one way, and the other third (my section) was chanting at a different time beat, but soon the larger section chanting beat my section. Right after we were done cheering and clapping and had sat down at Stephen’s request, that’s when he made the shout-out to “all of his friends in Teterboro, New Jewsey” (and now you understand the inside joke). Of course, we laughed and cheered for the mention of the inside joke, though we also cracked up that he said “New Jewsey” instead of “New Jersey” (guess the word got caught up in his mouth, although to be fair they both sound similar at least in the beginning syllable), while he smiled and winked and repeated the word again as if he was aware of the error that he made, but just like the intro, he left that little mistake in the final edit.
Onto the Peabody segment. Now here he DID have a character break, which was great for the audience to see but bad for the late night viewers since that part was re-done. It was right after he announced his Peabody award, brought it out and showed it off accompanied with our deafening cheers. He was saying the part which was “I’m so happy to finally get a second one”; it came out as “I’m so happy to make- s***!”, and he bent his head down to his desk while letting out his sounds-like-he’s-exhaling-audibly laugh, then sitting back up and covering his mouth with his fist while trying to stop laughing. We, of course, made no effort to stop our laughter. When he was done, he just put on a faux-helpless look on his face, threw his hands open and said, “This is the first time we’ve ever made a mistake! We don’t know what to do!” He told Mark that they’d redo that bit again, right around the part when the Peabody announcement clip was played before he brings out his Peabody and shows it off. He told us, “Let’s see how well you can fake being excited a second time!” Fortunately we met that challenge, and more. Now…I found it a bit strange (or at least absent) that he DID NOT say the speech on not re-blogging any mistake that goes on behind the scenes. It just felt, at least to me, like it’s such an integral part of the TCR taping experience (when he says that every time he makes the 1st mistake of the night) that for it not to be done is like losing a single piece of the jigsaw puzzle. Maybe spending the whole day in jury duty had fried Stephen’s brain so he wasn’t thinking about his usual statements to say. But I let it slide, though I marked that as Odd Thing #1 in my mental books. So Stephen redid that bit from the part that I just mentioned, and the rest of the segment went great. I felt so proud to be witness to yet another great achievement on Stephen’s and his staff’s part. They wholeheartedly deserve this Peabody award for all the great work they’ve done on Colbert Super PAC (I wonder if Trevor Potter gets to share the award…).
After the 1st part of the show was done, Mark and 3 other men walked up to the desk and started talking to Stephen about the next segment. One of the men I recognized as Dave Javerbaum, but the other two did not stick out to me. That’s when I noticed Odd Thing #2: no Paul Dinello. Remembering my sighting from earlier, I guessed that maybe tonight was an off night, as long as everything was okay with him and his family. But again, it’s just such an integral part of the taping experience to see Paul come out and converse with Stephen that it still felt a bit strange to feel his non-presence. By the way, even though I’d missed out on hi-fiving Stephen, I LOVED my seat; it had SUCH a great view. I could peek at Stephen through the gaps of the men standing around the desk and watch him preparing for the next bit. He didn’t look tired or stressed or anything; just fully focused on his job but able to put in a light-hearted joke or smile once in a while (at least that’s what I interpreted from his body language). They spent an especially long time consulting the script. Finally they finished conversing and went on to the next bit.
I really enjoyed the Quaker Oats Guy’s Makeover/Wilford Brimley Phone Call Segment. I remember reading about the QOG’s “facelift” and briefly wondered if Stephen would talk about it (I always love when I read about something and Stephen then covers it on his show because you already know what it’s about and can’t wait to see what Stephen will do with it), and he did not disappoint. The whole bit went off perfectly with no mistakes. The best part was watching Stephen during the Wilford phone call. While he was watching the video playing on the TV monitors with us, he was laughing and grinning widely the whole time. I was so torn between wanting to watch/listen to the Stephen and Wilford exchange and wanting to watch Stephen’s reaction to the video. It was just such a beautiful sight to behold, especially with that heart-melting smile of his. I’ll say that I did like 60% watching Stephen and 40% watching/listening to the clip, knowing that I’d be watching that bit again later. Either way, it was still great fun.
After the second segment was done, Mark and the 3 men came up to the desk yet again, and the audience relaxed and talked amongst themselves. Me? I went back to my mission of feverishly remembering all that I had seen and heard so far as best as I can, punctuated with occasional adoring glances at Stephen through the gaps of the man group around him. Fortunately we didn’t have to wait long. Soon Mr. Ballard was escorted out of the interviewee entrance and was seated at the interview table. A few people clapped for him, but we mostly just waited contentedly for the interview to begin. Before Mark began counting down for the cameras to begin rolling again for the interview, Stephen, alone up in his desk, managed to catch Robert’s eye, and they miled and waved at each other, which I thought was really cute.
The interview…oh, the interview…if only you could have been there to hear it live and in person way before the rest of the Colbert Nation. It went off without a hitch, and it was just as interesting as I had hoped it would be. I think Stephen found it really interesting too, knowing his fondness for anything historical. It was just like what you all saw later when it was broadcast that night…except for one thing. A big chunk of it was cut out of the final editing, probably for screening constraints, but maybe also because of its lip-biting intimacy. The part that got cut out was between when Ballard said that when he visited 24 remaining survivors around the time when he found the Titanic and they told him that the Titanic should be treated respectfully because it is the graveyard of their parents and when Stephen said that it was amazing how things stay preserved in an oxygen-starved environment ( down in the deep ocean). What was cut out was a story that Ballard told Stephen (and us) of how on the night of the tragedy, those who weren’t fortunate to get into the lifeboats (or, in some cases, sacrificed their spot in the boat for others), they most likely froze to death within 30 minutes of being in the below-zero waters. They then sank down to the bottom of the ocean floor with the Titanic, so that when the Titanic hit the ocean floor and lay in its eternal position, there were bodies scattered all around the ocean liner. Then, as time went by, every part of their being disintegrated little by little: first their flesh, then their bones, then their clothes, until finally what would be left would be their shoes. Somehow their shoes withstood the salinity of the ocean and were perfectly preserved, and they would be the only remnants and proof that there was once a living being in those shoes. And when Ballard and his team went down to find the Titanic, he found something that had an impact on him: a pair of shoes that once belonged to a mother, and right beside those…was a pair of baby shoes. And he said to Stephen (and to us), “Would you want to take away those last remains of a human being in its final resting place just so that you could have a souvenir or put it in a museum? No, you wouldn’t. I wouldn’t. Nobody should.” Everyone in the room was dead silent. I think we were all horrified at the thought, but also maybe because it really sank in for us just how real that tragedy was. It chills me just remembering. And looking at Stephen, he was probably feeling the same way as us. The whole time he was just very focused and absorbed with what Ballard was saying. The concentration was palpable. That was the story that Ballard recounted to exemplify his mission to preserve the Titanic and what it meant to the victims’ families; that’s also what Stephen meant when he made the comment about things being perfectly preserved down there. Fortunately Stephen was able to bring the conversation around and end it on a light note, which was surely the right thing to do after hearing that story.
After the interview ended, we clapped for Ballard at Stephen’s request to thank him for coming and doing the interview/show with us. Stephen shook his hand and thanked him again, Ballard left the studio through the entrance where we came in, and Stephen went back to his desk for the sign-off.
Usually Stephen doesn’t take too long to prepare for the sign-off, but that night this exchange happened which delayed it a bit: While he was at the desk, a woman with long brown hair and wearing a jeans jacket, a flower-patterned dress and long black boots walked up to the desk from the sidelines where I was sitting. When Stephen caught sight of her, he looked both really surprised but really happy to see her. He got up from the desk, walked around it towards her and gave her a long and enthusiastic hug, the kind that any fangirl would wish for or dream of (I know I do). Unless my ears were failing on me, it sounded like he said something of the likes of “How are you? It’s been so long!”, with the woman replying in kind to his question. When they were done hugging, the woman started telling him about something, with Mark and Javerbaum walking up to the desk at the same time and standing around listening. Again couldn’t really hear, their voice levels were too low for my ears to catch on, but from the body language that I observed, it seemed like a conflict of some sorts. Stephen, while listening to the woman as she kept talking, at first looked confused (he made a “What?” facial expression/grimace at some point), and then he didn’t look very happy (he kept frowning from then on). When she was done, he shook his head while speaking at the same time like he was denying whatever she said, and he sat down on the desk while still talking to her (she sat down too) as if he was trying to clarify/explain something. He seemed very adamant about it. Every so often Mark and Javerbaum would chime in with their own thoughts. It made my chest constrict to see him not smiling and thought that something was wrong. Soon, however, Stephen made a final resolve or his final point, and the woman nodded, turned around and walked away from the desk, and vanished into the sidelines. Stephen no longer looked confused or concerned; he looked quite relieved, like whatever trouble they were discussing had been resolved, and he went back to preparing for the sign-off. I stole a quick glance at the audience, and saw some people exchanging looks or conversing quietly with each other. I wondered if, just like me, they were wondering what the exchange had been all about and what had made Stephen a little tense. But since we couldn’t hear anything, we can’t speculate. And as long as some form of solution is brought about, not our problem, not our business.
The sign-off went off perfectly, and when the cameras were turned off, Stephen got up, walked to the front of his desk and leaned against it on the edge. He looked at his Peabody award with a great sense of pride and touched it affectionately. Then, whilestill touching it, he turned back to us and said, “The best thing about a Peabody, apart from the fact that it’s better than an Emmy, is that everyone wins, everyone shares it.” And he thanked his writers and staff sincerely for all they do to make the show happen. My heart swelled up with happiness and pride, not only to see how happy and thankful Stephen was for the very deserved win, but at how he never fails to always thank his staff for everything they do, because they really do a fantastic job, and he’s a great boss for always acknowledging their competence, skill and hard work and making them feel that what they do, for all the grueling hours they spend for weeks on end, is worth it. I saw a few look back at him with thankful, appreciative smiles on their faces, which nearly made my heart burst.
After that plug, he took one more question before leaving for the night (I swear … does his generosity know no bounds?). A blond boy was the lucky pick, and this was his question: Did you create the Super PAC to educate people on how it works? And Stephen’s reply was: “I created it to educate me. I wanted to learn more about, and it’s screwed up.” He continued on saying that he couldn’t believe that they’ve been covering the issue and making jokes about it for 13 months now, and he finished by saying however the Super PAC issue speaks to us is not up to him; “If it interests you, if it educates you, if you are educated by it, it’s all up to you.” And with that, he said good night and walked off while waving to us, as we cheered and clapped once more. We didn’t get up just yet, because the staff wanted to make sure that Stephen was completely out of sight first; he shook hands with a few people standing on the side where we entered in from the waiting area, then truly disappeared, and the 2nd bodyguard kept looking in that direction for a few moments before making a sign and a nod to Mark that Stephen was truly gone. With that, we all began got up and started leaving.
Walking alongside the slow-moving crowd, I ended up passing by Serious Bodyguard who was standing in front of the desk, right when he denied a guy’s request to take a picture of him at the desk. As I passed by him, I smiled and thanked him, with that thank wordlessly encompassing not just the fact that he unwittingly allowed me to see that there was some humanity in him after all, but also for giving me such an awesome seat, and he smiled back at me and said I was welcome. I’m glad to say that I will never be afraid of him again. We were herded out of the studio pretty quickly, and very soon I was back out of the rabbit hole.
By luck, I saw Trijya standing outside making sure that she had her things with her, and I joined her and we started walking up the street together. She was very happy with her first taping experience and was ecstatic that she got to ask Stephen a question and that she actually spoke to him; she confided that she was shaking the whole time. I myself was very happy for her that she’d had a great time and that it went well for her. Soon it was time for us to part ways. She had to take a bus back to Secaucus where she was staying with friends for the night, and her poor feet were so tired from first walking around all day then standing around all day, so I helped her to flag down a cab to take her to her designated bus station and saw her off until I’d made sure that she was on her way. And then I was alone.
Standing all by myself on the street corner, I could slowly feel the euphoric, magical high that I’d been feeling all night starting to fade away, and I wasn’t ready to leave yet. I turned around to look at the studio just one more time, and as I did, the high continued to sink, just like the Titanic, into the frigid waters of reality. That’s when I noticed Odd Thing #3: not a single soul was around. Nobody was waiting for Stephen after the taping at all. The only person around was Serious Bodyguard, waiting for Stephen as usual. You hear of so many accounts of fangirls getting their Stephen experience by waiting for him after the taping that to see no one waiting for him was strange. I’m sure it happens, if rarely, but it’s so surreal when you actually witness it firsthand. If any night would have been a good night for me to try and stay behind to wait for Stephen, it would have been that night. But as I’ve stated before, I don’t feel comfortable or brave enough waiting around for Stephen by myself without any support (like having a friend or two with me). And besides, it was much too cold and windy for my liking that night to stand around and wait (probably why everyone left right away), and I wasn’t too keen to stand there any longer at that point. Still, it took me great effort to make myself turn around and start walking away without looking back, with little success. And on my walk to the nearest subway station that’d get me back to Queens the fastest, it was hard to tell if my suddenly sniffling nose and watering eyes were due to the un-relenting wind, or my own inner sadness at having to leave that wonderful place once again until who-knows-when. I say it was the former…although the latter may have been a smidgen true by a long margin.
I had a really great time at my 2nd taping, as I knew I would, and am at least satiated until the next time. If any of you are confused or have questions about anything I wrote, feel free to ask away in the comments section and I’ll answer them as best as possible! I hope you all enjoyed reading this despite the long length (and sorry if you found this too long) and I look forward to attending another taping and writing another taping reporT again in the future!
EPISODE NUMBER: 8080 (April 4, 2012)
GUESTS: Robert Ballard
SEGMENTS: Peabody Award for Colbert Super PAC | Indecision 2012 - Settling for Mitt Romney | Colbert Super PAC - Republicans & the Latino Vote | Wilford Brimley Calls - Quaker Oats Makeover | Sign Off - Second Peabody Award
SUIT REPORT: Dark suit | Blue/white stripped shirt | Blue tie with white dots
VIDEOS: Wednesday, April 4, 2012
[caption id=”attachment_11742” align=”aligncenter” width=”560” caption=”The N.F.L debuted more aerodynamic uniforms. Now there will be less drag when they are carted off the field.”][/caption]
[caption id=”attachment_11743” align=”aligncenter” width=”560” caption=”Nation, I don’t like to brag, it gets in the way of my boating. But today I am proud to boast that I have something new to brag about. We won a Peabody Award!! Folks, I am so happy to finally have a second one. Now my Peabodys and my Emmys can double date. “][/caption]
More caps to come!!
Happy April! Once again, I am here to present this week’s guests on TCR. Don’t worry, karenatasha will be back soon — in the meantime, let’s take a look at the folks appearing on this pre-Easter week. My guess is Stephen is getting ready for a Catholic binge next weekend, complete with “genuflecting all over the back of a cab.” Been there. And/or will be there.
Before all of that commences, we have on the roster two governors: one former, and one currently presiding over Stephen’s home state of South Carolina. We also have a renowned deep sea explorer, and a famous author. Let’s take a look!
Monday, April 2: Gary Johnson
Our first governor is former Governor Gary Johnson, who is currently seeking the Libertarian Party’s nomination for President. If you thought there wasn’t a serious presidential nominee who was in favor of legalizing pot, you’d have missed this guy. Essentially, he is the poster child of any true-blue Libertarian: in his college days he turned his side job of working as a door-to-door handyman into his own company, Big J Enterprises, in 1976. He then grew the company into a behemoth 1,000 employee strong construction corporation, eventually selling it in 1999.
He ran for the governorship of New Mexico in 1994, which he won handily, going on to serve two successful terms. During his tenure as governor, he was known to be heavy with the veto pen, and reduced the state’s staff by 1,200. He is credited with leaving office with a budget surplus as a result of his fiscally conservative policies.
In April 2011 he announced on Twitter that he was running for President in the Republican Party, eventually switching to the Libertarian party in December of last year. He was largely left out of the Republican debates, having to sit sidelined while Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann soaked up whatever media interest was left. He has maintained an active presence on Youtube, posting his own responses to debates, and hosting his own Town halls on yowie.com.
He is a triathlonaholic, having runs several triathlons and even participated in the Ironman World Championship as a celebrity participant. In addition, he has got to be the only governor ever to have scaled Mount Everest; he has also climbed Mount Elbrus, Mount Kilimanjaro, and Mount McKinley.
Sounds definitely like a Type A.
Here is a great compilation of his debate performance at the Republican Primary debate held in Florida on September 22, 2011, which nicely highlights his stances on most crucial issues.
Visit his website.
Our second governor, Nikki Haley, the current Governor of South Carolina, shall meet Stephen Colbert, the unofficial Ambassador of South Carolina. She is in NY to promote her new book, Can’t Is Not an Option: My American Story, and is appearing on TCR on the day of the book’s release. Clearly, she is seeking “The Colbert Bump” in its highest possible dosage.
The daughter of Indian, Sikh immigrants, Haley was born on January 20, 1972 in tiny Bamberg, South Carolina, where she experienced prejudice as a young girl. A graduate of Clemson University in accounting, she worked for a recycling company, and then assisted her mother in developing her multi-million dollar upscale clothing company, Exotica International.
She held a variety of civic organization posts and in 2004, successfully unseated an incumbent Republican State Representative, running on a fiscally conservative platform. She became the first Indian-American to hold office in South Carolina, according to Wikipedia.
In 2009, Haley announced she was running for governor, receiving an endorsement from Mitt Romney, Jenny Sanford, and Sarah Palin. These collective endorsements, coupled with Haley’s staunch conservative values and commitment to promoting transparency in South Carolina politics, vaulted Haley to the governorship on November 2, 2010.
Haley’s tenure as Governor has been a bumpy ride, having been plagued by unsubstantiated rumors of having extra-marital affairs, and criticism of her expenditures at high-end hotels while traveling as Governor. More damning are the critiques from her Tea Party supporters who claim that Haley has not been the champion of transparency they hoped for; rather, she is maintaining the “good old boy’s club” political mechanisms she campaigned to abolish, is their view.
Nevertheless, Haley is campaigning hard for Mitt Romney, whom she credits with helping her achieve the governorship, and she maintains a healthy presence on cable news shows, and has appeared on the cover of Newsweek.
Will the hammer come down on Governor Haley on Tuesday? Doubt it, but it should be a lively interview. Be sure to check it out.
Visit Governor Haley’s website.
Here is a nice article from Myrtle Beach Online describing some Tea Party members disenchantment with the Haley administration.
Her new book is available for sale here.
Just as the new 3D version of James Cameron’s blockbuster hits the screens (like its stupid theme song, it will just go on and on and on), Stephen hosts the man who brought the real Titanic to light: Dr. Robert Ballard, the undersea archeologist who in 1985 finally discovered the long-lost wreck of history’s most notorious doomed ship. Ballard is about to host a show on the topic for National Geographic on what is the 100th anniversary of the disaster.
The former Navy officer and current professor of oceanography at the University of Rhode Island has a list of underwater achievements to his name; among other successes, he located the sunken Bismarck and found the PT-109, the infamous ship on which John F. Kennedy proved himself a hero. Ballard’s awards include an honory degree from the University of Bath; the Academy of Achievement’s Golden Plate Award; and the Caird Medal from the National Maritime Museum.
Ballard has written several books, including The Eternal Darkness: A Personal History of Deep-Sea Exploration; The Lost Ships of Robert Ballard ; and Robert Ballard’s Titanic. He has also written children’s books and, like his “sky double” Neil DeGrasse Tyson, is very concerned with educating kids about science and the environment.
This is Ballard’s second visit to The Colbert Report.
Visit his home page.
Watch Ballard’s latest 60 Minutes profile; they’ve actually interviewed him several times.
Take a look at his TED video on ocean exploration.
Anne Rice is well-known and renowned author, selling over 100 million copies of her works, and penning many successful novels that focus on the gothic, the metaphysical, and erotica. She is now promoting her new work, The Wolf Gift. Born with the curious name of Howard Allen Frances O’ Brien, she grew up in the Irish Channel of New Orleans, a place she described as an “Irish Ghetto.” She was in part raised by her grandmother, as her mother struggled with (and later died from) the effects of alcoholism. She assumed the name “Anne” in school because she liked the way it sounded, and it stuck. She met her poet-husband of 41 years, Stan Rice, in high school, and moved West.
Ms. Rice is the go-to source for vampire-related literature. Her “Vampire Chronicles” have spanned over thirty years, with works such as Interview with the Vampire (1976), The Vampire Lestat (1985), The Queen of the Damned (1988), and the Blood Canticle (2003), to name the few of the books you may have seen the lady reading next to you on the airplane.
She adapted Interview with a Vampire famously to the screen in 1994, starring Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, and premiering Kristen Dunst. Other film adaptations of her work, such as Queen of the Damned, and Exit to Eden, were less successful at the box office. Her work has appeared as theatrical works, and even various comic books.
She has also written a great deal of literature based on Christian-related topics, including Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt (2005), Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana, Angel Time, and a memoir entitled Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession.
Anne Rice has had a difficult relationship with religion— after many years spent as an atheist, she returned to Christianity in 1998. She created quite a stir in 2010 that she was quitting Christianity and organized religion altogether, later explaining “following Christ does not mean following His followers. Christ is infinitely more important than Christianity and always will be, no matter what Christianity is, has been, or might become.”
Tragically, she lost a young daughter, Michele, to leukemia in 1972. She developed obsessive-compulsive disorder in the years after her daughter’s passing. Her husband, Stan Rice, also passed away in 2002.
Visit her website.
Buy her book.
And let’s check in with our good friend, Jon Stewart!
I was able to complete only the first guest, and the other three only spontaneously appeared right before this posted, so I apologize for not having the last three completed.
[UPDATE: I have added a little info for our last three guests.]
Check out The Daily Show’s fantastic guest page for more information.
Monday, April 2: Mohamed Nasheed
In February of this year, Mr. Nasheed resigned from the presidency of the Maldives, a island nation compromised of an archipelago off the coast of India, a beautiful country plagued by years of political upheaval. He had been elected to the presidency in 2008, for years being a vocal and prominent critic of its 30-year dictator, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. Apparently forced out of office at gunpoint by supporters loyal to the former dictator, there is currently a warrant out for his arrest, though it is not being enforced. This narrative is nothing new to Nasheed: he has been imprisoned numerous times as a result of his criticisms of the Maldivian government and Gayoom dictatorship, having formed an opposition party to Gayoom, and written extensively opposition writings critical of the government throughout his career. Amnesty International has called him a “prisoner of conscience.”
As President, he sought to address the effects of climate change (particularly rising seawaters) on his low-lying, small island country, making impassioned pleas at the U.N. Climate Summit in Copenhagen in 2009, distinguishing climate issues a hallmark of his Presidency. He also founded the Climate Vulnerable Forum to raise further awareness.
Mr. Nasheed’s first year in office is chronicled in The Island President, a new documentary by Jon Shenk.
Check out this fantastic article from The Guardian about President Nasheed which discusses his recent tumult.
Tuesday, April 3: Thomas C. Goldstein
Mr. Goldstein is an attorney of the firm Goldstein & Russell, and the founder and editor of SCOTUSblog, a super duper law blog that discusses the Supreme Court and other pressing legal issues. Thomas Goldstein should have a thing or to say about the SCOTUS: he himself has argued several cases before the highest court in the land. He was named by GQ as one of the top 50 most powerful people in Washington, so don’t mess.
Check out the SCOTUSblog here, particularly right now, it’s timely.
Wednesday, April 4: Jack L. Goldsmith
Jack Goldsmith is a Harvard law professor who worked for John Ashcroft as Assistant Attorney General for Office of Legal Counsel from 2003-4. He heavily advised the Bush administration on issues of terrorism, detainees, and enemy combatants during that period. His new book, Power and Constraint: The Accountable Presidency After 9/11 (2012) argues that the Presidency today is a far more accountable institution than ever before, in fact bolstered by the legal and legislative measures introduced in this post-9/11 world.
Buy his book.
Check out his security blog. (A nice blog pairing with the SCOTUSblog, I dare say.)
Thursday, April 5: Anthony Bourdain
The sardonic, salt and pepper haired host of Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations is well known for being a great chef, but is also a prolific author as well, on books about fly-fishing. No, food, of course! He is now launching his own line of books, called Ecco Press, which will feature chef-authors, but also non-food related topics as well.
Mr. Bourdain hilariously appeared rather recently on the TCR.
And he tweets.
Who are you looking forward to seeing this week? Do share your thoughts in the comments, and have a great week!