Salon.com’s Video Dog did some digging about Colbert and found this old video from Law & Order, Criminal Intent. It had this to say about the clip:
Back in 2004, Stephen Colbert didn’t host “The Colbert Report,” although he was an accomplished correspondent on “The Daily Show” and had quite an illustrious career in television comedy (to see Colbert’s credits click here). This clip is from a strikingly straight appearance on “Law & Order: Criminal Intent.” It’s bizarre to see Colbert playing a role other than Stephen Colbert (a backward glimpse perhaps at how strong the fake newsman/pundit character actually is) in this particularly Norman Bates-esque role. We’re waiting for a wink and a studio audience; we receive neither.
Stephen discussed his reasons for accepting this role during one of the Q&A’s that Colbert does with the studio audience (this one attended by LJ user Nerdork):
… I had an unexciting question brewing in the back of my mind. I hadn’t heard Stephen address the subject for the longest time, but then I found one interview where he mentioned it very briefly. Still, it was something that amused me exorbitantly and I wanted to hear more from him about it. Once I’d entered the studio, I figured I wouldn’t ask anything, but (much to my surprise) my hand raised itself. Colbert called on me first.
“What was it like to do a serious role on Law & Order?”
He laughed and fumbled a bit (“Laurel and Order”). Then he went into exposition mode.
The show had contacted him a couple of years ago because they’d written a character and thought of him playing it. Said character was a single, 36-year-old man who lived with his mother and killed an old woman with a lye bomb. (I believe Colbert might’ve thrown “stamp collector” into his description.) “‘You thought of me? Really?'”
(Colbert seemed to be trying to remember WHICH show he’d appeared on. “Criminal Intent,” I supplied. He echoed me, and it was then that I realized the true depths of my dorkitude.)
Colbert then described how he’d started out as an Actor — black clothes; a beard; a “poet-slash-jerk.” But it’d been twelve years since he’d done a role which wasn’t geared towards getting laughs, so initially he was pretty into it.
But (and here’s where he said pretty much EXACTLY the same thing as that sole interview response) it was “like a 45-minute set-up for a punch line that never comes.” (Oh, Colbert, you quote-recycler.) And I guess it was hard for him not to break out with a joke — he acted out turning towards a camera and confessing in a cartoonish voice paired with an equally-cartoonish grimace.
“I was terrible.” But I don’t think he was — that Law & Order episode is hilarious! (I guess it’s not supposed to be, but at least it’s entertaining in some capacity.)
Thanks for the video tip and the Nerdork blog find go to Truth, good friend of the blog and keeper of the Stephen Colbert Truths!