The Colbert Report began on The Daily Show as a fake tease for a fake program, with Stephen Colbert as a hyper-aggressive conservative commentator snarling that his opponents didn't have the balls to take him on. Some time later, that fake persona got his own fake news show.
The Stephen Colbert on The Colbert Report was something of a caricature. As Stephen Colbert explained (on other shows), his persona wasn't just making fun of conservatives; he was making fun of all the television pundits who thought speaking the loudest meant they were right. The fake Stephen Colbert wasn't evil or mean -- he'd just decided he knew everything he needed to know, and ignored and dismissed any facts or opinions that got in the way of those beliefs. And he was always bombastic in his statements, even when they didn't make sense: "Just because the Pope is infallible doesn't mean he can't be wrong;" "I think fine art is like pornography: I know it when I buy it." And he created the word "truthiness," reflecting something you feel in your gut mattering more than facts.
Of course, The Colbert Report mocked plenty of Republican people and positions, usually through Stephen's blind, vitriolic agreement with them. Regular features included the Threatdown (Stephen Colbert's biggest dangers to the nation -- often, bears), Even Stephen (where Stephen would debate himself), Tip of the Hat/Wag of the Finger (where Stephen praised or trashed news items), Better Know a District (falling far short of every district in the U.S.), the Word (where written comments often contradicted what he was talking about) and fake medical items from Prescott Pharmaceuticals. Stephen had lots of interviews (where he always pretended to be more popular than the person being interviewed), a crush/stalking of someone named Charlene (which was dropped in the first few seasons), Captain America's shield on his desk and Michael Stipe on a shelf.
So how did it all end? There was a musical performance of "We'll Meet Again" with massive amounts of previous guests on The Colbert Report, from Jon Stewart and Bryan Cranston to Henry Kissinger and Big Bird. Stephen killed Grimmie (the show's Grim Reaper) and became immortal, leading him to a magical sleigh ride with Santa, Abraham Lincoln, and Alex Trebek. And in the end, it all looped back to The Daily Show, where Colbert had often been a correspondent before getting his own show.
Next up, Stephen Colbert will be taking over The Late Show from David Letterman in 2015. Some writers have already expressed concern that Stephen Colbert the person won't be as engaging or interesting as the combative, idiotic Stephen Colbert from The Colbert Report. But it's Stephen Colbert the comedian that made The Colbert Report such a success for nine years, bringing the same character to the viewers over and over again and drawing us back every time. I'll miss The Colbert Report, but I think Stephen Colbert will bring his talent to whatever he does next.
And that's the Word.
Written by James Lynch