« Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations

Stephen Colbert: Finding Your Stride

2018-03-07 | 🔗

In an interview at Harlem's famed Apollo Theater, Stephen Colbert, host of "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" and best-selling author, discusses his nightly talk show, the times we live in and his deep-rooted Catholic faith. Stephen opens up about the nervousness he felt in taking David Letterman's old time slot and how his intention for the show guided it to the top of the ratings. Stephen also reveals how he keeps his ego in check, why love is the most important thing we have, and what he thinks is the "last, best hope of mankind." In this special edition of "Oprah's SuperSoul Conversations," you'll hear Oprah and Stephen's full interview, featuring more than 15 minutes of bonus content not included in Part 2 of the OWN special "Oprah at the Apollo."

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
I'm over Winfrey welcome to supersede conversations the podcast. I believe that one, the most valuable gives you can give yourself is time taking time to be more fully present. Your journey to become more inspired and connected to the deeper world around us starts right now, soon- and I beg you, will thanks pursuing as you did. Nothing would say. Yes, I can't say no. Yes, I thought you it also noted. Oh, I was an and it's been six years since you got you, I've sat down for an interview that you're conducting miss it. Yes, I came
under your home and did that. But this is an interesting thing when you're doing a daily show. I understand that it's kind of hard to take a break, the middle of the day only leave to have lunch. You know, even you know, even so why do you say as a warning What you want to ask me? No, because I'm tired of but if you're interested in their own because they feel better about myself, I am very interested in you and I we had a great conversation once before. But I just wanted to say that I think you better than ever something happened? What today's I'm good beg you you're, the best our I think we just peaked. Or will we have a really good time? You know where No a daily show you gotta care about it. You know, did you the grinding
because it out you gotta care about what you're talking about and we're living in consequential times and in that of the opposite of like it getting you down, it actually fires you up. Could you wanna talk about it? You want to get it out. You wanna have a sense of community with the audience. That's what we want more than anything else is like we wanna tell jokes and thereby build a community of people who can all share their feelings with each other. I get to sail the words, but we're sharing our feelings with ease. There is they're laughing back, you know you, d want to be alone is a lonely time. This feels like a lonely time right now. You and your usually the last voice. We here before we go off to sleep. And so do you feel like makes me sound like a daily execution. Do you feel this
come with a responsibility or you're, not thinking about responsibility. Our responsibility is to make jokes on whatever the conversation today was like. We try not to ever like breaking news for the audience. We want to keep aware of what the national conversation is today, give our our opinion about. It is jokes, our opinion, because if you breaking news this an interesting if it breaking news- and I'm just here- the news from you right, I'm have the reaction of somebody who just hearing the news it hard if you're breaking the news to make that make that break funny right right, depending on what the news is applied, there's not a lot of funny news these days. I know you want the audience. What we're gonna do was one b a an addition, a catalyst to what they ve been thinking all day. People come to the show at the very end of the day they ve been thinking about something happened all day and we go. I've been thinking about a two years, but we think you know we kind of.
And their day back to them was some jokes. It makes that day, better hopeful. Ok, so you know supersonic conversations. Are all about looking inside your son of finding the best, So when you first, you know it's a big thing. Stepping into that role: Oh yeah, what David Letterman was in that theatre? We worry, you came honestly tell me was a part of you. That was a little scared. Of course, if you're not nervous you're, not. I didn't know anyway, we as the moment you what a little bit uses, what a little bit yeah, I don't mean just nervous. I mean like a real leg. Am I up to that war? There was certainly, certainly in the first few months of the show I was so exhausted by the effort that we're throwing into it in car wasted effort.
Ways they were putting into it that I wasn't sure whether I could keep the energy level up necessary to find it, because we were trying to find what the show was going to be, and we had a good. We'll be what the other she wouldn't it with all other show. Was it couldn't be? What Dave Show had been right? as you already had lagging already had a gig, and so what was what was hardest allowances scared, but the thing that actually took the calcium out your bones was you have to do this with humility, cause you're, doing it you're, trying to find something that you don't know how to do yet in front of millions of people. You have to do it publicly. And that's that's humbling, because you have to admit. Ok, I have found it yeah yeah and show the thing about it for those of you who don't have public jobs a thing about when you have a public job in trying to find it. Every mistake you made is a public mistake
right right. So you make an era. Everybody else knows it. There's no rehearsal. Yes, you're all people, always in your first attempt at that time gap so do I think that you found your strive after the twenty sixteen election. Do you think you found it? I think without it internally? I think we found it before the election actually happen during the election, because we had you know, is a resource like I love Christmas came over from CBS this morning, because we didn't, we didn't, have a show runner. I was the show runner, which was not a great idea, I'm a control freak, and if you let me, I will touch every
being on the show everything without due and very gay, with permission with firmness with energy, and am Chris came into the boy you're really good. At this thing, you really talk you really great about making jokes about what has happened today. Just do that and I'll take everything else. I replied that was in April in point sixteen, and so we did that and we figured out how fast can we do and to do that we did live, shows any within fifteen live. I actually think bristling. I'm gonna give you ought to know precisely. So I'm just going to say this, I think there's a little bit of genius producer in him for Europe without a doubt without because he actually had the idea also for personal. He did found that morning, job better integrated mornings, a greater more info and then it gets more and then the new CBS is warning and he had the idea for gale to go on that show with the child
gale first said to me? She was going to do that. I said that is the worst What makes you think that shows gonna work Korea is sad and I any was absolutely right absolutely. Why am I immediately father, good idea. You did. I merely thought it was a good idea because of running a morning, so I think a lot like running nightly show you know it's mostly it's the grind. The thing about doing. One of these shows that it's hard to explain is I love doing the show for the audience. You know fifty one percent of joy is what you see. Forty nine percent of the joy is: what does it take to get there? That's the point
cs. I love process. You know I love seeing how things are put together. That's why I love love cooking, shows of chopped because, like you know, three secret ingredients, you don't get to see to these start cooking at the end of the effort of a meal. That's what every day is like on a nightly. Kommeni show. These are the three stories those year three ingredients you'll find out. He walked in the morning and you have to make a meal for the audience that now you have to create a Europe that you ve got this thing up for them, and that requires a very tight
process, you need to know how to do everything. I know how do their job stay in their lane and he made that happen for us so that we were ready for Donald Trump to happen, because if we hadn't done that work, we have done all those lives shows. If you hadn't seen how fast we could cook, then we would have been ready for a president who changes the news every fifteen minutes here and it's not as though that's not an exaggeration. He changes the news every fifteen minutes. Aren't you amazed at how the country has become kind of obsessed about it, though I am amazed at the speed. I'm not upset amazed with the obsession because he wants detention is well knows how to get it he's a very
showman and everything he does is of consequence. He is the most important man on the planet, so we should be amazed and show. I've always been our great time here, just talking about tromp, but I will say that every time? He does something you do you want. As a team you get together. You Sidney talk, you think we're in a power you gonna use this, for a we're. Never not together in IRAN are always were always together. Yeah. It's always we're always were lesson. We all followers yeah and we're we're all watching the news. All the time and the moment anything happens. I already know that my head right up is risky and Jake gets here. My creative executive officer, Thompson.
There are already working on it. But you told me years ago that you, you didn't think it was your job to influence people so you're not trying to employ people or any change that I'm there to influence how they feel. Ok, because I've time how I think I'm getting a laugh out of them. I want my can feel better. They already have their own thoughts about today's news, and then I give my thoughts about today's news and then hopefully the best thing I can do is make them feel better, Make them not be afraid. That's my goal is to make the audience not be afraid, because then they'll know what they actually think, because when you're afraid, you can't think it's. The fear as Frank Herbert says, do here is the mind killer, but if you're laughing you can't be afraid, and so, if you laugh, I know you can think. I'm here to help you think about what happened I, by making you laugh. We know you can think then spent by asking you coined the word truthiness, you know. Yes, I did. You did
and now we're living in the era of fake news and host truth era. We, What do we do without the fax, your own research, because the facts will always matter the facts will always matter. You know one of the things that happened. We thought Donald Trump Become elected. I had a conversation with one of my head writers. That's here we're treatment. Where do we stand, and I said we stand on this island called reality we just, diamonds, island, a reality, and we refuse to be budge from it. I will not leave. Your lies, no matter how many times you repeat them in all the apple out on CNN is under the same idea. This is an apple, no matter how many times before you call called a banana, You have to hold on to facts.
That's a big, Duke Surrender, facts that that aid, one definition of insanity is choosing your own reality rate rate and so Donald Trump and his cohort are trying to constantly gaslight you to say that the thing you see then, you know isn't true and the amazing thing about our job as everything you learn about him. Everything thought about him when you find out the truth turns out to have been true, there's nothing. It Michael Wolf's, book, fire and yuri there's nothing there that surprised us. The most surprising was that we were right when we saw it. It was right in front of us. The entire time show ok to move on from drunk or artifacts artifacts. You do daily show your the number one way Niger, whereby yes on television, your name,
It is on the side of the bill. The it is that it is. How do you keep that ego in Czech? Well, that assumes but I do? How are you you go and check out I'd. I married a wonderful woman, every Magee who married me when I wasn't famous she's, just as happy with that guy and I had my children, you know in my thirty's naming famous tolls and my forties or have like or of soap showbiz success. So I don't. They they perceive of me as a famous person. I remember when I was younger one like it s me dad. What will you always be famous and like now go to Morrow? I could say the wrong thing and it just all evaporates nice, but does it doesn't really matter? Fame is a way to famous tool.
Allows you to work more, that's the value of it. All we want to do is work want to go to work every day and do what I love to do fame allows you to do that thing. So I keep that in mind that the famous not important in any way other than I keep the gig. Do you like it, though, do you, like I d, like to faint, I like the fame one, I'm going to buy what mulch at the garden store and one of college kids, who summer job is like load mulch out your car will bring it all the way out to my car, like we really have to ask that the level of fame that is useful. Everything above that is like a very happy, I'm so happy to be fastened everything I'm happy to photos, yours signatures or anything like that, and even like press attention, you know they're they're, just doing there. But I think you're, a big it could be gone to Morrow and I'd get over pretty quickly. Do you feel the same when your number one, as when your number two dope,
no dear now feels a little butter,
you're beautiful butter, it's really great because it just one last thing to have data on war, about don't worry that there's really liked what I found out. I worked and cable for years, and it debt ratings didn't really matter that much in cable. It was like how much press you God ill, but what has been written about you maybe to a certain extent they only show moraines Lou. Once a year when I was a comedy central yeah and it's a different beast when I went to network, which I learned is acknowledged, really important. That was something I had to learn. So it's much better being number one, there's only one answer, which is the only way to get it off. Your back is to be number one undisturbed. Ok, let me ask you this: who tells you the to add a conversation with a well in we Kravis once this is just what I was starting out and are you ski and for some reason I ended up in him regret, MRS, whose very famous businessman with a lot of money and he said
You need to be careful because, when you're in positions of power, I regret this. You said pretty women and rich men and powerful men never hear the truth. So you have to surround yourself with people who willing to tell you that Ruth I saw your truth. Teller says Henry Cravats ever talk to Donald Trump,
That would be a good combination firm to have enough. My wife tells me the truth. My kids tell me the truth. Chris licked tells me the truth. I've I've worked with the same age in the same publicist, for you know, respectively, like thirteen and twenty years. Those they ve all know me forever. So here's the thing. Maybe I have a lot of people not telling me the truth around me, but I don't know that there are no. I dont know that item the truth, because they all seem like honest people to me and they certainly Toby things. I dont want to hear and do you take that? Well, I think I'd take a pretty well I'd, say I tell you what I dont do as I dont repress about myself. I stop doing that after the correspondence dinner in Genoa and insects, really because there is so much written about that, amend our my way,
saved that all the books and books of it, and I read one good review and one bad view, unlike all right as dinner, but because you can't win because if you read press about yourself, I know I will I'm self reflective enough that I'll take that criticism and internalize it, can't think about thinking. You can't think about breathing you'll choke on your own tongue, so I just do my best and then people tell me like a things while on the other thing is, if you believe the positive yours People tell me like a things while on the other thing is, if you believe the positive, we also believe the negative. So nice, that's that's a good reason. Twitter is dangerous in that regard. So, with all my anger and the chaos in the division that were experiencing, I still have a sense of what people are really looking for, are searching for his connection and and formed a meaning and certain meant and you seem to be. Voice of discernment,
from all the noise. Do you feel that from your audience that you're sort of the discern or use a filter trying to give us a perspective on what? All of the news is saying I think so I think I love it. So I think it's part of the job is to again what happened. The news today, what people been talking about all day long, you ve seen on your twitter feed youths you ve seen online. You ve seen in the news you read in the papers, which of those do, we think, are actually the important stories which are the ones affected us when we saw them and what did we think about them and that slight curator of today's news we would try to filter out some of the noise what's what's just
and if it is just sort of pr, as opposed to news into the old definition of news is news is what someone else doesn't want you to print. Everything else is pr, and so we try to discern between the news in the pr and then, if it is pure, we call it that in some so many words. But then, when we talk about the news that people have been thinking about all day, what we're really, as I said before, trying to do is just established a sense of connection in community to say to the people out there, and this goes back to like there are such things as facts to say: hey that thing you're thinking, you're, not crazy, to think it dont. Let people tell you that the world is not the way you perceive it, because there are objective truths, their oars urge objective reality. We are presently living in their ministry
wants to convince you that you're, crazy and so the sense of community is you're, not crazy. What you think is happening is so. Do you feel that I sent this from your show? Do you feel that a voice such as yours and other people who These platforms are our more central than ever that Your role has been elevated to something more than being Dino the late night comedian. I don't. I don't know if it's Penelope. That's for the audience to perceive that's all know audiences eyes, but, like I had a friend who once said you can't say you don't influence people yet because that's up for them the audience to say you can't take away if you are influence in them. So that's that's. Fine people feel that some elevate level to what we do, but we're still using the same.
Rules and we still have the same objective, which is to make comments about something that we care about, and the news is about important subjects, but it doesn't mean that our work is more important than ever it just. The news is more compelling than ever right now because we're in a time of tremendous change, and you feel a urgency to talk about it every day and writing with urgency. It just makes for better work, so I think people are are eager for someone to explain their date back to them with the same emotional urgency that they they experience, which is exactly what I feel when I'm watching your show that you got the day explained back to me with the with the level of discernment. So thank you for that. I thank you for that. You know I had an interview with Norman Lear not so long ago, and he said to me that I never thought of in this way. He said, watching. An audience. Laugh is a lot like an offering. Where he said he used to stand behind audiences during the saving of his shows and when they laugh notice this now we all do this that, when the odds,
at last, they rise together and there is a move in where they leans ward in their seats and been done then, they kind of rise up again, and he said that that offering some whenever you're saying is like gratitude is like gratitude, the shore. That makes sense. I would Do you send sat down? ok you're running on sensibly, says something that sounds true to you, and I shall address says like thank you. Yankee for tat because you can't lad- I know you said you- can laugh and be afraid at the same time, right right, right, right, right and our present president was elected on the back of fear, that's that's a particularly useful tool to have right now so You are a practising Catholic YAP and how does your faith sustain use? What I wonder.
Many Catholic here or if there are there, not willing to admit it. Out of my faith, sustain media. Well, my mother used to say that in hardships, in your life try to look at this moment in the light of eternity. You know try to see this. How, God might see, which is, we can see it as fully, as God might see this moment. This now posed to the past of the future, which we can affect in any way. But you can try to see this present moment if it's good or bad any hardship, victory with humility, with acceptance and with love. So you can't love something until you can accept. It is correct that is so people a lot of people are calling this the age of fear. How do you Counteract that I know your favorite Bible verse is Matthew, the don't worry one,
is that's why I said you do not worry, for who, among you by worrying, could change a single hair on his head or at a single cubit to the span of his life. You know, and then on from There- and you know sufficient on my father used to say sufficient under the day is the evil thereof. Our worry about itself. That was that, was was a young man actually walking down the street in Chicago was very, very cold days common in Chicago and the Guinean, giving bibles their hunting of the new testament proverbs and songs, and was so called that I had like crack it over. My knee cause. It kind of frozen the humanity of frozen in place, and I opened it to that passage and it changed
because I had lost my faith and I opened it to that passage in Matthew, and I was so racked with anxiety and was the first time that I'd I'd, read the Bible or anything that I understood. The phrase it spoke to me because I wasn't reading it, it just spoke off the page and the words of Christ or that for me, the words of Christ speak of the page, there's no effort for me to read them and if, like he's talking directly to us now, so we wouldn't harrowing challenge yeah, which is to love your neighbour as yourself love your animate that someone that alone, why enemies? Ok! So at the beginning of this this that this event supersonic conversations, I would say to the eye and first of all, how surprised I was said yes and that you're gonna leave to the and that we're going
this uplifting these cultural conversations and not to worry so in the privacy of your own heart. If you would open up a little bit and share Thus, are you more afraid? thank you for this country right now or more hopeful for this country right now. I'm always hopeful for this country, because our countries can be? I know our country remains the last best hope of mankind, and it is already great, is a great country. This was a great country and the heart of the depression yeah. This is a great
three, when we were torn apart by this of war. It was a great country because we are based on an civil rights. Civil war and civil rights were based on an idea that we imperfectly a harrowing idea, a harrowing challenge that we imperfectly embody at all times, which that all men are created equal and then they have equal access to justice and to prosperity and as long as that idea does not disappear as long as our constitution is not changed from that. That idea and, of course, the non constitutional inspirational docking, let the declaration of independence flaws. We always keep that there will be good presents, no be bad president's, though we good Congresses backers, the judiciary and bad judiciary, but if we can all agree on that thing than America will always be the last best Hope Bank, while or America, because every bit of darkness is only for now the light always wins
exactly what I say and wrinkling time or railway. I'm. Coming on your shoulder, talk, I'm so excited. I remember reading the book when I was in third grade really where the hell out of really yeah he's not gonna scare, you it's not now it's ok. So I want to know what you are most hopeful for. What are my most hopeful for? What do I want to have happened? I most. What do you think's going happened that it makes me most helpful or what already exists that gives us a three different today. What do I want to have happened? Yet? What are you most hopeful for. I didn't change at all, but I didn't I decided I was hoping you were going to explain.
Why are you know I went over? What would give me hope and what it to a certain extent does give me hope, is that I I've for years was wondering what happened to socially conscious music and I miss songs. Like top forty songs like come on, people now smile and each other, but to get together to love one another right now that love is not a bad word that we can say love or I love you or love- is the every only God like to say that love is the most important thing and you mean it without embarrassment. I six months before my show started Spike Jones, the director and we could act or two he came by to sending any help start your show and unlike which ensure less talks. Edith came by any interviewed me six months before my shown on the air about what I wanted to show to be, and after a ban on the air for awhile and anxious Benjamin special, he sent those notes back to me disabled, remind you what your intention
and the end part one of the things he said that he sort of circle to point it out, and it was, I don't know how to do a nightly comedy shows it's also about love, but I'd like it in some way to be about love and there's so many different ways to express that. I suppose always you had said that's what I said to him in the interview which goes back to me as a reminder and when I look at the show that we're doing right now. I hope
that I think it's interesting, that you set an intention. It yes alive and then the new start, and you don't know how to find it and that that gives you all kinds of, but wasn't that helpful, not knowing the way help you find the way right, because anything is possible and it was ridiculous for me to think it wasn't gonna be agonizing to do in public, which it was because you you want to know what you're doing and Ivan improvise or by heart. That's how I started comedy, but still you want everything you do to be successful right, but you can't be- and it's always
be painful to make a transition or change like that. You know that he'll get up, but the better, with the hoped for love the hoped for love, and I think now we found that I love my country. I love science. I love facts. I love people regardless of their race over there or their gender identity, and the challenge now is to love the people who don't seem to have that value in their heart, released how its politically expressed. I don't know, what's in their heart, how its political expressed even the people I disagree most with. If I sat down, have this conversation with them. We might leave the conversation, hand in hand, but one were making jokes about people's political action is very hard to see them as more than their ideas, and you cannot love their ideas. You can only love theirselves, yes, and so that's the challenge, challenges to love the people, you disagree with the mouth. The people you just simply with the most right, but that's the harrowing challenge of dry sets forth to love the people in this room
because loving the people you agree with anybody can do. That's right what it can do. That means you have to find a path to love, Donald Trump yeah. That's true I didn't say: a good catholic back. So? Thank you for doing a show about love every night. Thank you all like I move ruined free and you ve been listening to supersede conversations pack, you can follow super soul on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook if you haven't yet good apple, podcast, unsubscribe rate and review. This plugins join me next week for another super soul, converse
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Transcript generated on 2020-02-02.