For the longest time, I didn’t have a role model… at least, not anyone other than my family. It was difficult to wrap my head around the idea of having one, and it surprised me how many of my friends could idolize some people with ease. Sure, I am a fan of several artists, thinkers and do-ers, but I have never necessarily wanted to emulate them.
But then one day, I saw Stephen Colbert.
*Turn that pterodactyl-screeching up a notch, will you?*
I am not much of a TV-watcher, but if I hadn’t changed the channel to Comedy Central (a temporary arrangement to make up for the lack of home entertainment while on a trip) when I did that day a few years ago, I would never have discovered the existence of this brilliant human. I had assumed they would have some AFV reruns or something, but instead I was greeted by an abundance of red and blue lights – something he seems to stick with even today, let macular degeneration go to hell – and a man who had the charm of a wizard and an air of superiority about him, sitting at a desk and relishing the chaotic applause around him. He seemed to be a know-all, speaking at length about things I could barely begin to understand, though I did have a suspicion that he was only pretending to be a pretentious intellectual. He played around with many foreign-sounding terms, cracking jokes and telling harsh truths, frequently receiving laughter and support from the audience as he did so. I didn’t know if it was the lights, or the way he seemed to have everyone’s attention, but I was mesmerised… until my mum switched the TV off and told me to go to sleep. (PARTY POOPER! 😥 😛 )
I didn’t even know the guy’s name, and all I knew of the show was that it was called, well, it sounded something like ‘The Kolbeh Reporr,’ which I thought was the funkiest name you could give a show, even if it seemed rather jarring against the overly patriotic newsroom ambience. Obviously, Google turned up with zero search results for the name.
I conveniently forgot about the Kolbeh man, only to remember him vaguely later on whenever I came across some political jargon. It wasn’t until last year when I started adding quotes by Jon Stewart, former host of the Daily Show, on Pinterest, that I found out about Stephen Colbert and the new Late Show. (It is said that you can’t know one without knowing the other.) At some point while binge watching old episodes of the Colbert Report – the name was slapped all over the show’s props and decorations, but apparently I hadn’t noticed – promotional videos of the Late Show and every interview of his that I could find, I decided that I had found my role model.
Why him, you ask? I’ll tell you why, with three solid points.
1. He’s funny.
Obviously! He’s funny in a way that not many people are, though the show’s writers might have a little bit to do with that. 😛
I have yet to come across a joke of his that didn’t land perfectly, because his humour may be what one calls harsh political satire, but it has a delicate, pensive nature about it that makes you think once you’re done laughing. Jokes like those will always work, period.
That’s not to say that no one has taken offense, though.
The problem with deriving one’s comedy from political and social situations is that there’s a very thin line dividing what is funny and what is offensive, and a satirist is always treading this line rather dangerously. Inevitably, a joke will be made in poor taste, but a good comedian will laugh it off and start over, which is why…
2. He is brave.
There are a million quotes out there that talk about bravery, and a million people to take as examples, but for me, Colbert shows a kind of bravery that is sadly becoming more and more rare: the courage to voice one’s opinion. And boy has he done it! Again and again and again, be it as a correspondent on the Daily Show, or at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, or on every single episode of the Report or the Late Show. He is not afraid to talk about what is wrong in his country and in society, but not in a way that condemns it or takes away any hope for change, and that is often what helps us to want to improve, no matter who we are, where we are from, or what we have been through.
3.1 He sticks to his beliefs, and;
3.2 acknowledges that others may differ from them.
He believes, and yet lets others believe what they want to believe as long as what they believe in is not (a) harmful and/or (b) Donald Trump? How on earth is that possible? 😮
W-ell, here’s news: 3.1 and 3.2 are not mutually exclusive events. Colbert is a 100% bona fide Catholic, and loves to talk about religion on the show, but not to promote or attack any religion, rather to question its influence on modern-day society. Moreover, through his show, he invites people from various walks of life to talk about their experiences and opinions. In a world where populations are becoming increasingly diverse, I think it is important to listen and fully understand each other instead of diving into conclusions about those who are different from us.
Stephen Colbert is an inspiration. He has been through unimaginable hardships, yet he always picked himself back up, dusted himself off, and to this day, keeps going. That is why he is, and always will be, my hero.
Happy birthday, Stephen Colbert! 😀
P.S: for those who are wondering who Jon Stewart is, and as I already have stated that you cannot know one without knowing the other, I present to you, in all his quotable glory, the original Silver Fox: