Stephen Colbert answers fan questions on Reddit

Reddit logoStephen Colbert has taken some time this week to answer the questions of 11 lucky Redditors, to thank the Reddit community for all of their support towards The read is quite interesting, and gives some new insight to his career, his experience at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner, and the “Stephen” character.

Of all of the questions, this was my favorite, mainly because it really gave some insight into the drive that Stephen had, before he was famous, to simply be an actor.

You gained your fame and fortune slightly later in life, was there ever a point in your career where you thought about plan B? What kept you going as an actor, why did you keep trying?

At what point did you realize that everything was probably going to be okay, was it a specific gig you landed? What did you do to excel your career when you weren’t booking gigs? Lastly, do you have any advice for 20 somethings pursuing a tough career during this economic downfall where it isn’t just actors who aren’t getting jobs?

When you are young and single, there really isn’t anything to worry about.

Will you starve? Not likely. I worried that I didn’t have enough gumption to get work. That I wouldn’t know how to network or something. But at a young age several people, some professors and directors, told me I had talent, and that it was mine to husband if I was willing to work. Those kind words sustained me, many times.

I mostly just said yes to any opportunity to get on stage. Pay or no pay. Equity, amateur, comedy, avant garde, and improv especially. Chicago has a great improv community, and I could get up on stage a lot after I got to know the other members of the community. I called it getting in trouble. You say yes to something, then you are in trouble. You have to deliver. Each mini-crisis I forced myself into made me work hard.

As for true doubt, it got under my skin deeply only once. I was newly-married and I was offered a part I would have loved, but no pay. I had worked for six years doing anything, but had made a deal with myself that if I ever was to have family I could support, I would have to insist on pay. A small rule, right? But hard for a young actor to keep. Mostly you don’t really get paid.

I said no to the part and immediately (I mean within minutes) went into a spiral of panic that lasted for months. I was sure I had made the wrong decision (I hadn’t) and would never get a part like it again. But the worst feeling was that I knew I truly wanted to be an actor and there was no turning back now. I was too old to do anything else. This was a feeling I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

Importantly, I was wrong on all counts. Just keep working as long as you can’t thnk of anything else you could happily do. Keep saying yes.

I was also oddly amused at the rough edit of Stephen’s answers, mostly due to the fact that I loved the mental image that Reddit gave of Stephen “curled up on the couch in a post-turkey coma” on the script-writing software of his iPad.


  1. Two things:

    1) Meh, they should have asked him the BEST questions, not the top several upvoted questions, but I do understand that’s how reddit works. Well, my list of potential taping questions has not been diminished, at least ;).

    2) Even so, every out-of-character interview Stephen ever does makes me want to give him a huge, happy hug!!

  2. OMG FLAILING WITH DELIGHT OVER HERE. I have been SO looking forward to this.

  3. I particularly enjoyed his advice for those starting out (as well as those of us still searching!)–“work as long as you can’t think of anything else you could happily do” I feel that way about working in education, though my role may change, I can’t imagine not working with students in some capacity.

    I am always impressed with how he discusses his wife. You can just tell that there is a deep level of respect and admiration there and it makes me smile. What I would love to see is an NFZ 10 Question Q&A with the lovely Evelyn McGee Colbert. I am sure it would be just as interesting! (and not all the questions would be about Stephen!)

    Glad to see the interview out of character and in ALL CAPS! (Glad he prefaced by saying it was the default mode for their scripts- otherwise I would have thought he was shouting at us!)

  4. lockhart43 says:

    I have to be up for class in 5 1/2 hours, but I just had to read this, and I truly, truly enjoyed reading Stephen’s responses. For some reason, I decided to read the rough-cut, all caps version, and it was oddly comfortable. The first thought that comes to my mind is this: Stephen’s use of the phrases “right off the bean” and “a wee too much” really reminded me of just how much I love the way he talks. I love the words and phrases he uses to describe things. And the way he organizes his thoughts when he speaks (or writes, for that matter) is something I’ve always admired. I pretty much just love the way his mind operates.

    All of his responses were wonderful, but my favorite part was at the end when he thanks the redditors, especially this quote: “I have no doubt that your efforts to organize and the joy you clearly brought to your part of the story contributed greatly to the turnout and success. Contrary to whatever bulls**t quotes you may have heard in the bulls**t press.” That made me smile. :)

    • That made me smile, too. And I’ll ditto luvtcr, too, his mention of his wife (and his kids)-awwwwwwww :). So much love there, it’s so refreshing to see that. A Q & A with Evelyn would indeed be quite interesting, I’m sure! Maybe someday.

      This was perhaps my favorite answer:

      There have been many times that I have successfully argued a position I don’t agree with. That’s a lot of fun. But the sort of thing that gets me is when simple lies are not refuted, like, “The founding fathers were all deeply-committed Christians who believed in the literal word of the Bible.”

      “Tax increases on the rich are proven to lead to job losses.”

      His take on how he goes about doing the job/character he does is always a fascinating subject.

      • lockhart43 says:

        That answer was a favorite of mine as well. I especially loved the examples that he used. And I agree – I never get tired of hearing him deconstruct his own character and reading/hearing about his relationship with the character.

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