« Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations

Stephen Colbert

2020-06-03 | 🔗

Oprah travels to Stephen Colbert's hometown of Charleston, South Carolina. While sipping sweet tea on the piazza of Stephen’s in-laws’ house, a place where he celebrated his wedding and spends Christmas with his family, Oprah discusses what makes Stephen one of the smartest, most creative thinkers in late-night television. The long-time host of Comedy Central's critically acclaimed "The Colbert Report," Stephen reveals the truth behind "truthiness," what went into creating his beloved TV alter ego and what he learned about comedy from Jon Stewart. Stephen, who rarely talks about his private life, shares what he's learned from his mother and opens up about losing his father and two brothers in a tragic plane crash. Oprah also talks to Stephen’s wife, Evelyn, who calls Stephen's TV character an "idiot," but says the real Stephen is one of the funniest, most romantic guys around.

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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when free welcome to supersede conversations the podcast. I believe that one of 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. Starkness right now he's been called brilliant, cutting edge, provocative and just plain hilarious. Six million people tune in each week to the cold. There are poor. Stephen Colbert is an actor playing a character whose also named Stephen Colbert. He's a parody of allowed mouth political pendant tonight on next chapter I visit the Real Stephen called there, it is town of Charleston South Carolina, Stephen almost
Ever does interviews as himself I found out. He is whip, smart, delightful and a loving family man. We, and the charming one hundred fifty year old, home of Stevens, mother and father in law, Stevens wife. Nineteen years Ebby tells me what its to be married to one of the most razor sharp comedic minds on television today. How design nice to meet you. I'm nice Colbert. I went right in Macao how're, you should write avocado from Training actually grew. Guess I actually become common. It's cool, it's cool! It is not You're welcome comes come globally component. Thank you, they're right, but not follow put him in a brown bag and their ripen up and they'll be great. Isn't my parents have Charles think, he's all right,
I welcome what were you thinking, Your house. I hear they didn't it's kind of a magazine. Even in heavy celebrated their wedding in this house. It's also where the family guy there is every year for Christmas. How much time do you get spin here? Not enough? My stupid show keeps me in New York City Ed. I will have keeps on I. I was smart enough to marry a girl from my home town, so we don't have any debate about where we go yet when we have any free time Christmas or vacates. Just like, why can't you do that? Show trials in South Carolina Erhard? Don't like can interview the people we grew up with that lacks moving, shows that would be about it that ever cell with this is. I grew up in house like this in Charleston and down the street here about a quarter of a mile, and this is very much like the damask, where I grew up feels charge.
Meaning it is Charleston got charming by the create load baby. Here you want charm. We do it the world, seems confused by you. One of the world's things confused by you, Not sure where the tv call back Yes yet ends and the real one begins. Now recently I love this quote about you and then your times magazine as Ngos was in January letter. They say Italy, though there is emerged, a third Colbert. This one is a version of the tv show copier except he does exist on screen anymore. He exists in the real world and has begun to meddle in it. Who will I be that doesn't sound as Einstein,
He has asked myself who will I be talking to today. I do know what that's a good, excellent question. I don't, I often don't know who people invite to come and talk to them, because I'm called steam, Kobe Rivah Character and Stephen Colbert. We both the same social security. Number. Ordeal, yeah and I dont mind if the audience can't tell who's who, at times at time, at times on so am I realise this is just me right now. It is even you, that's it. Just even call bear not Stephen Colbert. Ok are well clear. Now, I'm clear, I hope I've made myself a remedy it he s. So where did the seed in cold there of the cold? Their report, Did he come from what I used to work for this guy named John Stewart. Stephen got his start. Fifteen years ago, working as a correspondent on the late night hit the daily show it was on
vague new show where he created his alter ego, Stephen Cold. There, a clueless news reporter the character became an instant fan, favorite love working for and with John, but we have to say what a shame that we are not doing, that other form of show, because certainly and cable news, the king shows our pundit personality shies. So we start. We stop pretending that we had one, yes, call the cops,
report, but we just ran commercials for it on the show we did fake promos. Furthermore, the poor they show that didn't as it exists and people kept calling up and saying when's that show gonna start. I want to watch that show so eventually we said, what would you do that show we ve been advertising for two years and and and that's how it came about as as an attempt to do a pundit show like Bill O Reilly or Sean Hannity. So is Stephen Cold there from the cold their report? Is it just it's o Reilly and other people? It's a combination of o Reilly The biggest example Gazelle Riley's, the king awry Lisbon number one and cable news for you have ten thousand weeks running or whatever it is he's. The king he's Papa their proper, these pop up blocker, but there were a lot of other people sort of mixed than when we started like. I like. The I wanted to be sort of shiny and his new is Anderson Cooper. You know like as a bright the silver surfer of cable news. You know just shiny and you know
see also lower hereafter Rivera yeah, because Morocco as a real sense of mission,. He really there's a real sense from her Aldo that every report he does is changing the direction of this great ship. We call America just inch by inch. His will people here as a level of importance to exactly see as I wanted to have that. So that's what the show as the show we want to do, something that was a Pandit show where the character was well intentioned. I'd like to say that is well intentioned, poorly informed, high status, Idiot Idiot Idiot. Has there been a time when you thought he crossed the line? Rents and yes go back to
the correspondence dinner two thousand, since no girl very little across the lawn. Let's go, I'm just just caught some job cuts of jokes. I was even own that you weren't, you are not a household name, then I think you had only came. I I don't think I would have been invited to five and held out his name. I think we hadn't anymore fifty show while- and so I call John Stewart I said John. I I've got invited, no four, the correspondence dinner. Do you think I should do it and he said what lighted attend then I say: no, they want me because they will you be the guy like to stand up to the present. Do they know what you do? I said I don't know, and I said I think I have to do it was you. I have to do it you like right now you have to do it only guide. Have you seen the faces of the people know I watch on writing in his eye.
I haven't really read: umbrella watched it. I couldn't bring myself to what what you don't understand. People who washer at home is that there's no MIKE on the audience and that unless the people on the day s were laughing or the front row, you couldn't hear any laughter, but there are three thousand people in the room and it went pretty except the front row and and the day and the day S, and so it really looked like it was uncomfortable but was really enjoy a by really ever got had fun rate time and it wasn't until it was over and I went back to much will act. There was one moment when I looked over the press, And he didn't soon we have a good time which upset me a little, but I wrote a letter afterwards saying thank. He was an honour. I hope you enjoy some level.
I will I will always. I think he couldn't tell whether I warn you serious. Will you not? Maybe not a living up got it running. We have there been times, though, because you just said you didn't think you went too far. They win. If you gone too, where is he going to and when he's going to parking you stop him. If he's in it sure I am sure I can stop him. I can stop and you can stop, but in fact, every time I've gone too far and stopped myself. Yes, is because within ten minutes of each other, my wife and John Stewart have said those are the two voice. They don't do that. Don't do that. Don't do that, but is an interesting though in the beginning, I think now people are getting you, but in the beginning, in the early days,
yeah it's early days. People would come on the show and be freaked out because they would really there. I was with you I was. They will think that you were, like God, I've got the exactly, but I always either in I play a character on the show, but I don't want my guests to be caught off guard their my guests. Yes, you know, I say to every single person: I do the shown character, he's an idiot, he's, wilfully ignorant of what you know or care about honestly disabuse me my ignorance, dollar four words in your mouth and will raise the green. The word for word. I want everybody to start in the same spot the criticisms that your show receives is that it can appear cynical. Sometimes at your audience is you I would want Young impressed enable people to worry that you are creating a generation of cynics. I don't worry that I am I I. I would hope that I'm not, but I dont know I work as I meet the people and they don't seem syn. I do not see the veil get it in that they get that it is a game
I do not believe the people that I dont believe the people are only interested in them. And I would want to encourage that night. I would want to encourage no political engagement because young people who purport to be wise to the ways the world are mostly just cynical. But cynicism is not wisdom. Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but cynicism is a self imposed blindness you put the blinders on yourself to protect yourself from a world that you think might hurt. You were disappoint. You really be a fool. Believe things will be good better to be hurt. And so I would hate to think the people got cynical cows really good choosing. This is about what you feel and not what is really the fan. Not. What is real truth is truthiness is believing what you wish to be true, as opposed to what is factually accurate, and then it becomes the word of the year
Where are the ear it's the dictionary river webs? Is it it's in the American Oxford dictionary now very, very excited about it, and I married in english major. So I think that actually is probably sexier to her via this expect is that I've made up a word than what the dictionary you do. Are you surprised at the genius behind the idea that you play a fictional character on tv who has now real influence? I mean like Time magazine most influential kind of influence. Are you surprised, Could you say the word genius again? That's the genius of that. Well, I don't know if I have influence, but you do
Bull say that I influence them and if they say that than that's legitimate thing for them to feel that's true, but that's not my intention and I'm completely surprised by what is your intention. I my intention is to make jokes that are about things that I'm interested in you know I do satire. I sometimes I just silly jokes, but mostly we try to do jokes, that that means something rainest. That's all satire is satires. Just parity with the point my point often is: I should not be telling you what to think, but that's what what a lot! of nighttime Pandit tree is. I want to tell you how to think and how to feel, but in her importantly, I want to tell you how to feel, regardless of what you think, but in your satire satirical, take on not telling us what the thing you get us to think that without a doubt, a double gainer. Isn't it. But I do it, but I guess you'd get us to think what
I want you to think about what I'm talking about. Yes, but I dont don't always I want you to know what I think about it, because sometimes I agree with my character and its impact. To me that the audience not know when it is okay. So let me get this straight. The fictional character, yes Colbert! ass raised over a million dollars on one point: four I work with work real dollar american greenbacks baby. That's ok with a real super pack. Yes, I formed an actual super pack this past year. The great thing about it was that we have no plan. I just want to find out what was legal to do with money in politics and it turns out almost anything is legal really and every time I would be told that what I was about to do as illegal. I would talk to my lawyer and he would say actually all you have to do
While this piece of paper in your fine, then the network called and said. Are you really forming a political action committee? And I said I don't know why. Why do you need to know, and they said because if you are that could be trouble trouble and I said well than were- definitely doing it and ass. It goes on The trouble is that by love, trouble and apple, us especially being told that I should do as by their national radiantly. I don't do it so I found out that I could raise money and never tell anybody where it came from and that's what's happening right now and I would not have known that if I didn't actually try to do it, but now you ve got the money. I got the money honey. What what are you going to have my dollar seven already? Ok, because, when I sort of ran for President South Carolina, running adds. We ran out and South Carolina. I learned this yet.
So you also best selling off her. Yes, I am again again your third book. Yes, yes, man do these come easy for you all. He just off the back of our an hundred. Sixty one shows a year, two hundred fifty pages of jokes: let's do another! Oh, how does this come about, though that came about, because there is a sense, of course, that America is the greatest country and it is perfect and you must never not be proud of it in its exceptional in its exceptional american exceptional nets, but at the same time, that sort of the the right wing pundits that I, that I am the shadow of the same times. They say that they also say America is broken, is going in the toilet, we have to fix it. So I thought: how can those two things exist at the same time? How can America could be perfect and we must get it back on track? Well, I can be because America again re becoming the greatness. We never worked exactly. Yes, that's. Why can't? It's me. That seems a that's the hallmark of of the criticism of the Obama presidency. America is perfect. How dare you ruin it? The way you have, and so so the book is all about how everything in America is the greatest, whether it's our jobs, our health,
our system that we do not need a socialist healthcare system. You realize that, don't you Oprah! You realize that. Yes, I see now who's entered the cheer absolute. Yes, absolutely think we have universal health care opera that will lead to waste and abuse, because, if bone marrow transplants are paid for by the government, why wouldn't everyone get them? Absolutely? Why? Wouldn't everyone have a steel rod implanted in their spy out of six there's Poleos is whether they had it or not. Absolutely absolute waste interview sudden agree with you more Thank you. You know I actually had a dream about you Oprah. Now Two nights ago I had a dream that you we're on my show, because I was thinking about this interview like ireland- can be myself in this interview, as opposed to being my character and the dream of thinking. Good I've forgotten that that I had brought the show and watching the interview in the dream, and I thought this was really well. How could I have forgotten this happen and I won't look how aggressive on being opera, inheritor. I can't believe I was not much of a jerk to her and I said she see.
It pretty. Well, though, I can't believe I'm doing this interview as myself. I would be so much more boring than that carry so early. I just I was nervous about. I was nervous about being me, you're nervous about your being here, so nervous, obey myself, you ve handled it. So well this fine! Thank you. Thank you. I got forty eight years of experience. Stephen grew up the youngest of eleven children it is to get Gentlemen. I am an and watch Johnny Carson with my two sisters, Marian Margo and so at twelve o clock, my sisters would come, get him up and they put right in the middle of the bed and they watch Johnny Carson. So this goes back to when he was a tiny little fella. Beginning to lock, is just he's always been at the centre of attention. His father aims was a vice president: at a local medical school, his Their Lorna was a homemaker. When Stephen was just ten years, all his father.
And two older brothers, an eighteen year old, Paul and fifteen. You, oh Peter, were killed An eastern airlines flight to twelve crashed in a cornfield in Charlotte North Carolina. Seventy two people died and had to be defined was for you I mean that sort of you know four years. I sort of thought that that was my secret name, that that loss was my name. If you know what I mean,
You know like that. I am not likely we. I like the idea that you have a secret name, your radio of your name, but if you have a secret name yeah and that's a name that no one can ever really pronounce enow, because it too, you are there's a magic to your secret name, and that was my secret name, the loss of my father, my brothers. I read that you held onto the you didn't really grieved them until college. Is that true mama didn't small ways, but are there really feel the loss? Until till I was in college, then the Hanover was in bad shape, those bad shape. I went to college it about a hundred eighty five pounds by the end of my freshman year. I was one thirty five hours, just green, just so sad about it. If I had time to sort of, I suppose, be alone with the idea TAT a thousand
yeah yeah yeah and was only ten when they died knows only eight years later, when you go after college. So in some ways it's not that long. Looking, I seem like a long time at the time, but now it aged forty, eight thirty five at age. Forty eight, it seems like up the blink of an eye, so the I got there have very sad about it. You once described your show as the joy machine. Yes and you had a quote on your desk. That said friend, Father Jim Martin. He gave me this card and it said joy is the surest evidence of the presence of God right. I think that's, I'm! Paraphrasing the vest joys there's a most infallible sign and most infallible sign of the presence of God. Yes and.
Joy can be hard, joy is not. The same thing has happened. No time without putting happiness is overrated or I do. I really happiness can be really my goodness in four years. If you ask anybody, that's my ride is yes, thank you. I asked on the horn heatedly at four o clock. Ok, if you ask anybody over the years, as people what they really want. People always say I want to be happy, but they don't even know what that really need. So you're right, I think, having this is wailed away. Overrate I'd rather be joyful dear and any one day right and just happy right what bring or even be sad with the people we love. Do you know that you're real yeah? That's ok! So what brings you? The deepest joy of the deepest joy would be. Wouldn t be with my my wife and children will be the deepest joy.
Like today, when you out with your kids know we absolutely, I would add my sons and I built a wooden boat and my eldest son Peter, was out there working the tiller for the first time with a prop engine, and that was pure joy. Ok, does every last the most of your jokes example. She claims she's an easy mark, so I dont know she's, like I can't believe, I'm laughing at that. Thank God she does. She allowed yeah she's still does she still does, thank God yeah and she is great levelling influence. Somebody like no absolutely go for it, but sometimes is like
Oh that's real politics. Don't do that stairway, stay away from that you'll get it on you. You know remain once you get it on you, you cannot get takes a lotta, rarely seen again shouted out. Oh all, right! We're gonna break for a day come on. I really am. I laughed, though the exciting you never get confused. I don't really like the other guy you don't. Like the other day. I brought him home by action at once. You did a lot of work on the way home. I work in the car, No, I read my script. I had driven to work and I read my scripts going and coming and often I'm improvising as the character in the back seat walked into the house very early on in character, and you know immediately, you can tell you can already tell you I just can't who myself always tell you got you said and certain terms he's not invited and invited. Go out and coming get out of my house and come back into my husband like right, not the boss, here
Sorry about that, the Barcelona. So none of us here what was it about him that you said I can say I do for the rest of my life, that's so hard right! I mean it was how kind in general She is how Smarty is how he was making a lot of money. Now that was all scary. Regularly raises really he was big. Like no money. I know if he's got an, I kind of I watched him perform. A second city is different. He was on stage all the time, so he was working all the time and you trust ice or others. I Europa drag leave. It is? U romantic ovarian here. He is romantic, he is. I don't know about that. He is
What's the most romantic things ever done, while this may not be the most romantic thing is evident, but this is something I can share. They'll take that when we were first dating, I lived in New York and he lived in a long list of silk. So I lived a time in a ground floor apartment, and so Stephen was coming to visit me at the time you are. It was under studying Steve Corral and indeed show that he was understanding at second city. He had to play the marital maritime audibly brass instrument, so he told me you over the phone, it's that I have to learn how to play this instrument.
I forgot about it. So I'm sitting there thinking diagnostics days to learn it. Ok, good thinking, it's about time. You should becoming, I wonder where he is, and all the send out the window, powerful Bob Hysteria Haven T this. It's stupid, you so silly! You know you have to love. I was really playing on the airplane. It was really upset. The stewardess today makes you laugh at times, even when you don't want to ask you to reject all God. I love that not now not not now you're just times when you need a good cry. Yes, and I always say I'd hate to make, you feel better apology, apologise. If what I'm doing right now is lightning your mood. That's on me, sir.
To do that leaves I will stop Keynes early. Let me ask you this: do you think you'll ever get bored of him, the other guy, I suppose by men, what border noddle stop doing them at some point? Ok, when will you know what I just don't in when I dont want aren't when I don't want to get to work, you know, but- but I am already thinking right now about oh I'd like to talk about that or like talk about that in the coming week. An end. If one I'm away from the show. I can't wait to have that first conversation that first morning back the pitch meaning when I, when I don't want to do that, then I should stop when it's a chore. Thank you. Thank you all right. All right. I've been Alfred
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Transcript generated on 2020-06-04.