Stephen Colbert in the Zeitgeist – November 22, 2010

zeitgeist2Hey, kids! Time to get caught up on the news while Stephen and the rest of Team Colbert take a well-deserved break from the show, which I’m sure they all need very much to complete their recovery from Rally weekend. Our round-up today includes one final (I hope) Rally item, some comments from Robin Williams, an early look at some end-of-the-year sort of things, and word of a possible trip to Florida for Jon and Stephen in the spring. Settle back with a beverage, and enjoy!

Even us old folks know how to rally

  • FlowTV, an academic journal on television and media culture, recently featured an article on the Sanity/Fear Rally that explored one aspect of the rally that virtually no one else even noticed: namely, that the audience wasn’t just the TDS and TCR core demographic of 18-25-year-olds, but a broad range of ages, with a very high percentage of Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers. Proof that the rally was intended to appeal to those over forty as much as the younger crowd was the number of performers and guests who would have been familiar to the older audience members: Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens), The O’Jays, Ozzy Osbourne, Father Guido Sarducci (how many of the younger TCR fans would have recognized him if he hadn’t appeared on the Report earlier this year?), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Tony Bennett. The article includes plenty of tweets from Rally day expressing pleased surprise that so many older fans were in attendance.

Behind the scenes at the Report

  • Chicago Reader features a blog by Jeremy Lemos, a sound engineer who was touring along with Pavement when they made their September 20th appearance on the Report, and he has some really fascinating comments on the show’s rehearsal that day. He was particularly impressed with Stephen’s part in the creative process: “I used to think that shows like that were mostly a team sport with someone telling the jokes, but there’s no doubt that this is Stephen Colbert’s show. He tweaked every joke, changed things around, dropped things that weren’t working, and made everything better. He knew in a second when a joke wasn’t sharp enough. The weight of putting together a show this size every day from scratch started to seep into my head… They broke off for two hours to work on the script, and come showtime I couldn’t believe how much tighter it was. The run-through had been hilarious, and the live show was a mile ahead of that.”

Robin Williams

  • The Honolulu Star Advertiser featured an interview with Robin Williams recently in which he was asked why he thought Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart were having so much influence on the political scene: “They’re paying attention to them because it’s the only antidote to Fox News. I think it’s kind of like the idea that a lot of young people get their news from ‘The Daily Show’ or even Colbert because they’re going, ‘There’s so much spin out there.’ There’s the idea that someone is using comedy to look at how crazy this is. It just gives it a tiny bit more perspective. That’s why they’re paying attention to it, because they’re going, ‘This is pretty wild stuff going on.'”

Spring break in Florida?

  • Down in Destin, Florida, is reporting that the head of the local tourism board has contacted national talk show hosts for their help in promoting Florida’s Emerald Coast, which was affected by last year’s Gulf oil spill. So far they have received verbal commitments from Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert to “tag-team the second week in April.” The tourism board is still waiting for a written commitment, so for now this remains in the realm of “interesting possibility.” But we’ll stay on top of this and provide updates as we get them.

Help for Haiti

  • Clean the World, an organization that collects, recycles, and distributes soap and bottled shampoo to needy people around the world to help combat disease, got a surprise “Colbert bump” courtesy of a tweet from @StephenAtHome asking the Colbert Nation to contribute to the organization. By the next day, Clean the World had received 60 online donations totaling $2,000. There’s a huge need for soap in Haiti to help combat the cholera outbreak, and Clean the World is committed to sending more down there in December. Donations help cover the costs of soap recycling and transportation, so if you have a few spare dollars burning a hole in your pocket, do consider helping them out! (Via the Orlando Sentinel)

Who’s honoring Stephen Colbert now?

  • has their poll up for the Best of 2010, and The Colbert Report is nominated for Best Variety Show. Head on over there and vote!
  • Extra’s Entertainer of the Year poll has Stephen at #4: “This year has been an especially hilarious one for the bombastic host, in which he has skewered everything from the oil spill, to the environment, Obama birthers, Bill O’Reilly, and Congress. Plus, he spearheaded the groundbreaking Restore Sanity and/or Fear rally with his ‘nemesis,’ Jon Stewart.” They also offer, for your enjoyment, 15 video highlights from the year, including Stephen’s superb Dr. Strangelove impression, his testimony at the Congressional hearing on migrant workers, and walking off the set of The View.
  • In response to People magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive issue, has posted their own list: the Smart Girl’s Guide to the Sexiest Men Alive. Our favorite faux pundit made the cut: “Jon Stewart is the ‘George Clooney’ of Hot Sexy Nerd lists, so we thought we’d devote a special place to Stephen Colbert, who gets slightly less love but might actually have the better TV show.”

(h/t DB, Ms I, and Vera)


  1. I like the “Smart Girl’s Guide” list MUCH better, there’s a few people on that I’d wholeheartedly agree with, obvious one aside. It’d be so nice if People put more offbeat mentions like that in their annual issues more often, or had them gracing the cover for once (Stephen on the cover sometime? Please?).

    I too noticed an awful lot of older people at the rally, which is fantastic! Any age group is welcome to an event like that (I’m 26 and I knew who Sarducci was thanks to the movie ‘Casper’. Don’t know how much weight that carries, but…yeah. And I liked the musical choices, too).

    Love the story about what it’s like behind the scenes at the show, cool to know just how much hard work goes into putting the show on each night. I admire the fact that Stephen and his crew care that much (and on that note, thanks for the heads up about Clean the World, too, I’ll certainly look through my funds and see what I can chip in to help out. Sounds like a great idea.

    And everything else was a fun read, too. Thanks for keeping tabs on all this stuff!

    • While I wasn’t at the rally personally, I was surprised about the age group (and diverse group) when I was checking out videos and photos from the rally.

      I also loved the Smart Girl’s Guide List, alot of interesting picks I never thought of (but totally agree on!) And reading about the behind the scenes makes me love the Colbert Report even more now ^^

      Enjoyed this read as well!

    • lockhart43 says:

      Personally, I never read People magazine. I feel like it’s basically a fancier version of The National Enquirer. And while I agree with their choice (Just Friends is one of my favorite movies, so I’m a sucker for Ryan Reynolds), I’m with you – I like the Smart Girl’s Guide much, much better.

      And I know Sarducci from Casper, too, so you’re not alone. I’ve seen that movie umpteen times in my lifetime. ;)

  2. lockhart43 says:

    Great roundup, Ann! I loved that read from Jeremy Lemos. I love all behind-the-scenes stories, and it really highlights just how hard Stephen and everyone involved work on the show, even down to the very last minute. At the taping I went to, every single break in the show was spent tweaking the script and figuring out what works best for the next segment, which just made you appreciate the jokes in the final product even more. Also, Lemos writes that Mark Ibold, the bass guitarist for Pavement, used to make cameo appearances on “Strangers With Candy,” which is Just. Awesome.

    The blurb on the Entertainer of the Year polls just reminded me of this: I have a feeling that even if Jon or Stephen don’t make it to the TIME 100 this year, they’ll make it onto Entertainment Weekly’s Entertainers of the Year for sure. :)

  3. Is Bill Hader kind of doing a Stephen Colbert – one arched eyebrow, etc? At least in the photo used in by the “Smart Girl’s Guide.”

  4. MaryLovesColbert says:

    The quote from Jeremy Lemos was great! I mean, I think we all knew how involved and invested Stephen is in the production of the show, but it’s neat to hear how much better the show actually gets after they tweak the script. The TCR folks know what they’re doing!

  5. Wow, lots of interesting things to read. Any behind the scenes stuff is always fascinating. I would love to just spend a day lurking at TCR to see just how they pull it all together every day. And, hmmmm, I have friends who live not far from this rumored April Stephen/Jon tag team event. I will have to keep close tabs on this!

    I am so glad to see the article about the age diversity at the rally. I’m 46 (well, I was at the rally, haha) and I saw tons of people there my age and older. My niece’s in-laws were there, they’re both in their early 60’s and both said there was no way they weren’t going. And both never miss either show. True, the younger crowd is a big audience for the shows but they’re far from the only ones who are devoted viewers. And yeah, now that I think about it, the rally probably was my Woodstock. :-)

  6. pkyoubuggin says:

    Thanks Ann these were all interesting reads. God I would love to sit in on that run-thru before the final draft! When I went to the taping I felt I could just sit there and soak up the atmosphere for a long time. I mean, it is Colbertdom.
    I would also add Richard Engel to the Smartgirl’s list of looked over hotties. He has been on the Report a few times as you may recall.

    Recaptcha: “which i thing”?

  7. I loved the age diversity at the rally! Sometimes I get the feeling that while there are more 18-25ers who watch TDS, the older fans are often more devoted and engaged. I’m a bit above their main demo at 30, but I can blame that one on them for just never going off the air… I did START watching at 18 ;). My parents, who are 64, are even bigger TDS fans than I am! They don’t care for Colbert, though, which breaks my poor little Stephen-crazed heart, but what can I do?

    I must admit I don’t know who a lot of those people in the Smart Girl’s list are, but it will give me plenty of sexiness to investigate while TCR is on break, right? ;)

  8. Just wanted to stop by and say thanks for mentioning my essay on age diversity at the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear!

    • Karenatasha says:

      You’re welcome, Kelly! I’m a regular reader of FLOW–a cinema/media studies person. You made many wonderful points.

    • Hi, Kelli! It was a great article and I was happy to include it. As an older fan myself, I was really pleased at the age diversity at the rally but disappointed that so much of the media coverage barely mentioned it. Stephen and Jon appeal to a much broader audience then many people realize. My parents both watch TCR regularly, and they’re in their late 70s.

      • Yes, I was also quite surprised that the media didn’t cover the age diversity. But now I’m kinda’ glad they didn’t–after all, their omission resulted in my column. =)

  9. Lori Estep says:

    I was at the Rally and I really wasn’t all that surprised by the vast range of ages represented there. I’m about to celebrate the first anniversary of my 39th birthday (think about it), myself. I even met a group of five ladies ranging from 63 to, well, let’s just say over 63, who proudly call themselves Colbert Fangirls (after I explained what that meant). They were adorable.

    As far as the age demographic that is always quoted in regards to the audience of The Colbert Report, while I know that Stephen does rule the 18-24 year old male demographic, the actual OVERALL age range that he commands is 18 to 49 year-olds of both genders. In fact, according to a Pew Research study released September 12 of this year,

    “Most of those who regularly watch O’Reilly (63%) and Hannity (65%) are 50 or older; 44% of the public is 50 or older. By contrast, the Daily Show and Colbert Report have the youngest audiences of any outlet included in the survey. Large majorities of those who say they regularly watch the Colbert Report (80%) and the Daily Show (74%) are younger than 50; 55% of *public is 18 to 49.”

    *public refers to people polled for this survey

    This also points out that at least 20% of those people surveyed aged 50 and older, watch The Report. So, like I said, I wasn’t really surprised to see the number of older people in sea of Rally-goers. After all, just because we get older, doesn’t mean we cease to “get it”, and for THAT, I am infinitely grateful.

    Oh, and there was a lovely graph accompanying this quote to further illustrate the points made within that portion of the survey. If you’re an info-nerd like me, you’ll find the whole report fascinating, if not,then you’ll just love the fact that our boy does well in the MOST coveted demographic from an advertisers stand-point.

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