R.I.P. Stephen Colbert, you beautiful man. Although he is still very much alive, his narcissistic alter ego is well and truly dead. With the real life Mr. Colbert moving on to pastures new, a.k.a. CBS, how are we going to survive without segments like Formidable Opponent and The Word?
For the better part of a decade, in addition to ‘tipping his hat’ and ‘wagging his finger’, the fictional political pundit has made us laugh incredibly hard, and perhaps his funniest moment arrived in 2006 at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. After mocking George Bush’s poll numbers and policies in Iraq, a number of people began to storm out in disgust. All of this drama helped catapult Colbert and his fledgling show into the realms of superstardom. How can you not respect a man who tells it like it is, even if the immediate recipients of the joke roll their eyes and mumble various profane remarks? Colbert knew that his real audience would be laughing uncontrollably, the real audience being his die-hard fans, of course.
A beloved segment on Colbert, Better Know a District saw the devilishly wicked interviewer grill legitimate members of Congress about their districts. Through intelligently constructed questions, Colbert never failed to lure his guests into saying something utterly ridiculous. The best example of this arrived when New York’s Yvette Clark made an appearance. Here, unforgettably, she demonstrated her ‘flawless’ knowledge on topics like time travel and the history of slavery in her beloved country.
Colbert, the comedian-cum-political commentator, was at his very best during this particular interview. The U.S. Congresswoman, who represented New York’s 11th District, replied in a manner as humorous as it was painfully embarrassing to watch. With a little assistance from Stephen, the Democratic politician took a nostalgic, factually flawed trip back in time.
Colbert got the ball rolling by asking: “If you could get in a time machine and go back to 1898, what would you say to those Brooklynites?”
An emotional Clarke replied: “I would say to them, ‘Set me free.'”
Intrigued, Colbert asked the Congresswoman from what she wished to escape.
“Slavery,” Clarke replied.
“Slavery. Really? I didn’t realize there was slavery in Brooklyn in 1898. It sounds like a horrible part of the United States that kept slavery going until 1898,” Colbert remarked, doing his utmost not to chuckle.
When Stephen asked Clarke to identify her captors, she pointed the proverbial finger at the Dutch, obviously.
As most Americans with a brain cell realize, slavery, thanks to the 13th Amendment, was abolished in 1865. A very capable and professional lady, Clarke has served as chair of the United States House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emerging Threats, Cybersecurity, Science and Technology, however Colbert made her look very silly indeed.
A moment like this highlights the brilliance of the man, and to you, Mr. Colbert, we tip our hat and urge you to never stop wagging that famous finger.