Stephen Colbert rarely breaks character. That character? Stephen Colbert.
On Comedy Central’s wildly successful The Colbert Report, Colbert, the comedian, plays a fictional version of himself, also named Stephen Colbert, an egocentric political pundit. Modeled indirectly on high profile right-wing personalities like Bill O’Reilly, Colbert’s character spews jingoistic vitriol in the name of pointed political satire. And it works. Brilliantly. The show has inspired leagues of devoted followers known as the Colbert Nation, and Colbert’s mock presidential campaign raised over a million dollars.
The real Stephen Colbert, however, couldn’t be farther from his bullheaded counterpart. Oprah invited the Daily Show alum to her home for a segment of Oprah’s Next Chapter, and the candid interview reveals a man that is antithetical to his on-screen persona: compassionate, level-headed, courteous. He is, of course, effortlessly witty – a car alarm goes off somewhere out of the shot and he quips, “That’s my ride. I asked them to lay on the horn repeatedly at four o’clock” – but his demeanor is one of aw-shucks geniality. You almost forget that this is the guy who basically called President George W. Bush an idiot, to his face, in 2006.
There are several installments in the segment, but you can watch the first one after the jump. It’s worth it to find out what kind of man is behind some of the most acerbic political commentary in television. This, as his character would say, is the truthiness.