‘A Conversation with Stephen Colbert’ at the Wellmont Theatre.

Stephen Colbert Wellmont Theatre

During the course of the interview, Colbert revealed some charming quirks: an email friendship with Dick Cavett, a near reverence for J.R.R.Tolkien, and the fact that he decided to pronounce his last name Col-BARE during a conversation with an astronaut on a flight to Chicago as he headed to Northwestern University for the first time.

But the conversation returned again and again to the fact that he plays a character named Stephen Colbert. He said he warns guests that he does his interviews in character, and tells them that the character is an idiot. But that doesn’t always prepare them.

“Any theologian can understand martyrdom, but only the martyr goes into the fire,” Colbert said. “I’m the fire.”

Full Article: Baristanet.com

Colbert got his comedic start at Second City Theatre, a home of improvisation, in Chicago while attending Northwestern University. Here he saw Amy Sedaris on stage and thought she was better than everyone else.

The theatre’s director Del Close had a simple but effective principle on how to do improv called the “yes and.” When you’re onstage you take your cue from the person or people you’re working with and build from there; it’s about accepting what you’re given.

Colbert gave this example. If someone says, “Doctor, things are looking serious,” then you accept that you are a doctor and in return could address the person to indicate that he’s either a patient or a fellow doctor depending on what you say. Operating in this mode, rather than trying to read each other’s minds is what produces lively and hilarious improvisation.

He shared another great piece of advice to two young girls who asked Colbert about starting their own improv troupe. Colbert told the girls to listen—a lot. Listen until you are doing something and feeling something. But until then just listen. His reasoning was this: if you’re doing something then there’s action, it looks like dance, and you’re interesting to look at and if you’re feeling something people will connect with you.

Full Article: Business Insider.

32 thoughts on “‘A Conversation with Stephen Colbert’ at the Wellmont Theatre.

  1. My favorite bit from that article is that the author called him, “well-spoken, thoughtful, and erudite.” I can’t wait to hear all the reporTs from last night, it sounds like it was wonderful!

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    • “My favorite bit from that article is that the author called him, “well-spoken, thoughtful, and erudite.”
      Don’t you find it rather condescending for writers, (at this late date) to still be surprised that Stephen is, “well-spoken, thoughtful, and erudite”? Why are people so shocked that Colbert is intelligent?! I halfway expect to read one day, “and amazingly Colbert showed a familiarity with how to operate a knife and fork.”
      I hope you know this isn’t criticism directed at you. I’m probably more then a little grumpy from being awaken at 3:50 am when a flashlight fell on my head. (Don’t ask!) But this “Stephen has a brain?!” motif is one of those little things that bothers me. (Bruised head or not.) :)

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      • Yes! It’s like when reporters kept saying things like “He has a surprisingly nice voice” when talking about his stint in Company. It shows they didn’t do their homework. If they had they would know he’s thoughtful and well-spoken and can sing!

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      • You like to read in bed but you don’t have a book light. So you rigged a flashlight to hang from the ceiling and in the middle of the night the string snapped. Yes?

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        • That is so much better than what actually happened, I’m going to ask you to entered that into the Coldate log as what officially happened. *In best Shakespearean voice* Make it so, Colbaby. Make it so.

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      • No worries, I understand what you’re saying. I have been annoyed by that before, too. I think that it generally depends on what article I’m reading though, and what the voice of the author is. In this one, I was more pleased with the fact that they said he was thoughtful; I don’t think I’ve heard someone in the press describe him like that before (that is, someone who maybe wasn’t familiar with what he’s like out of character). It was a nice change of pace than someone just talking about his character being a blowhard and the fact that Stephen is more than able to form sentences in a way that they make sense. ;)

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  2. Found this on Tumblr. Here’s a link to an MP3 of Stephen singing “The Best Imitation of Myself” by Ben Folds. Apparently he said if he ever had a last show, Ben Folds would be his guest and they’d sing it together. (I think that’s what the video was.) Hopefully the ReporTers will fill us in!

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    • That’s exactly it, Mariana! He said that would be his last show, last song. It’s so perfect.

      But if Folds ends up being a guest now, don’t necessarily think it will be his last show. They just can’t sing that song together.

      Also, about the “last show” comment that has caused such debate: apparently Branson was given a prop fire extinguisher but unbeknownst to Stephen and staff changed it for a real chemical one. Stephen was commenting on the effects of the chemicals–that would make it his “last show.”

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      • “Also, about the “last show” comment that has caused such debate: apparently Branson was given a prop fire extinguisher but unbeknownst to Stephen and staff changed it for a real chemical one. Stephen was commenting on the effects of the chemicals–that would make it his “last show.”

        I just speculated about that on the Branson show comments section. Thanks for confirming that, Karenatasha.

        What a creep that “guy” is! I had actually enjoyed that segment. But now… I hope they ban him from the show.

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        • I think he should be arrested for assault. In terms of damage, it’s not like switching a prop gun for a real one, but the underlying principle is the same.

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  3. Thanks for the link. Wow, I’m impressed that Stephen would sing a cappella in front of the crowd. That takes guts.

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    • I’ve never noticed that Stephen had a problem singing in front of any kind of crowd, for any reason. This time it was planned, while most other times he’s just done it on impulse.

      I enjoyed last night’s interview, as I always do. I could listen to Stephen talk for hours, and not just because he has such a lovely voice. Hearing him talk about the intellectual process behind doing comedy is endlessly fascinating to me.

      Interesting observation: last night after I got home from the interview, I watched Thursday’s TCR, which I had heard about but not yet seen. I have to say, following up a live interview with an episode of TCR really shows the glaring difference between Stephen and “Stephen.”

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      • So true! The man and the character are worlds apart, and that to me is a big part of the pleasure: the knowledge that it’s fully a performance.

        I will say more about last evening when I do my “Better Know a Guest.” Suffice it to say that it was extremely enjoyable. I wish I had been closer–I was way up top–but I’m not complaining: I was there, and understand that makes me very privileged.

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  4. I was also fortunate to be at the interview last night. The part that resonated most with me was when Jonathan Alter asked him about being Catholic, and about his faith in general. I know we’ve heard Stephen comment on this before, but last night he said a couple of things I hadn’t heard him say previously. He said that his faith has varying levels of intensity during different times in his life (I’m paraphrasing — so Karenatasha, please correct me if I’m wrong) and that sometimes he doesn’t necessarily “feel” his faith, or feel religious, but he “remembers” that there was a time when he did. So that sometimes his faith is a kind of remembering, rather than feeling. I hope I’m getting that right, because I thought that was a very interesting thing to say. The other thing he said regarding Catholicism came when Jonathan Alter was about to switch the subject, and Stephen interrupted him to say that he was “aware that the Church had @#$%ed up” royally — and he added that he “wouldn’t want anyone to think he didn’t know that.” (Not sure if that’s a precise quote — but I think it’s very close.) I don’t necessarily think it’s surprising that he said that; I’ve just never heard him say it before.
    Oh, and I also thought it was interesting when he said that during times when he’s a guest on someone else’s show (and he used David Letterman as an example — or I assume so since he said “Dave”) he’s still not quite himself, even though he’s out of character. He said he goes through what he’s going to say in his head before he makes an appearance and he knows he’s going out there to entertain people. At which point Jonathan Alter said that we were getting the real Stephen tonight. And that seemed to be true.
    The entire interview was very relaxed and intimate, I thought. I was lucky to be in the orchestra, and as it turned out, a certain Hubster whom I shall allow to independently reveal herself, was fortuitously sitting right in front of me and my husband — with binoculars! (Hubster with binoculars + orchestra seat = very good view indeed.)
    Incidentally, I should add that the very best part of last night for me was meeting up with fellow Hubsters, fangirls and friends for ice cream. While we all share a common “interest” for sure, what’s so amazing is what intelligent, kind, dynamic and interesting people you all are, whether we’re talking about our “interest” or not! (And before anyone asks — no, there was no Americone Dream — It was a homemade ice cream shop. And I wish I could share some with all of you!)

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    • Yes, I thought those comments about how he feels (or doesn’t) his faith were fascinating and very revealing. It’s similar to my own position regarding Catholicism — there have been times I’ve felt very connected to my faith, and other times (like now) when I’ve felt frustrated with the church. But I “remember” those times when my faith was stronger, and what that feels like, and that keeps me from leaving the church entirely. I actually feel a bit better now that I’ve heard him say something so similar about himself.

      I missed out on the ice cream social last night, but I’m glad the rest of you who did meet up had a nice time!

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      • The New York area contingent will meet up again! Please join us! (And that goes for anyone else in the NY area, too.) You can send me a PM on CN (to Susan WJ) with your email address, and I’ll make sure you are in the loop about any new meet-ups.
        I’m glad you enjoyed the interview, too!

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    • I think your paraphrase was very accurate, Susan, and it was definitely one of the most fascinating moments of the evening. As for the church screwing up (I’m phrasing more politely for this friendly site!), I think his views on that were clear from his coverage of the priest pedophile controversy, but no, he never said it so directly before.

      The other great moment, which I simply cannot cover in detail without having had a tape recorder, was a lengthy commentary on “Lord of the Rings,” why it fascinated him, what motivated Tolkien to write it, and how it compared mythologically to Joyce’s “Ulysses.” I am desperate to hear that again, in quiet, so I can ponder whathis words. But what I can say for sure is that Stephen would have made a wonderful professor had he chosen to go that route.

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      • AARGH! Missed the edit function. It should be simply: “so I can ponder his words.” On this site, for some reason, I am having trouble on my computer seeing the full screen when I write; there are always a few words beyond the border that I can’t access. It’s very strange. After it posts, I can see it and edit. Sigh.

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      • Ha, ha! I can just see him as a professor, standing in front of the classroom with a row of young women in front, gazing at him dreamily and hanging onto his every word…
        I wonder if when he came into the classroom, there’d be chants of “Stephen! Stephen!”

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      • I think I remember him saying that Joyce wrote “Ulysses” as an epic for Ireland — so that Ireland would have it’s own “story.” And he was comparing that to Tolkien, saying that Tolkien wrote “Lord of the Rings” as an epic for England — and that he combined ancient myths and stories from England’s history into one epic for that purpose. So Joyce and Tolkien were not necessarily alike, but they were trying to achieve the same aim.
        Of course, it doesn’t hurt that those are 2 of his favorite authors. I wonder if he felt that Salinger was writing a kind of myth for America?

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