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Carly Fleischmann is a young woman diagnosed with severe autism who communicates by typing on a computer and describes herself as the “first ever non-verbal talk show host.” When she appeared on Jon Stewart’s Night of Too Many Stars benefit to interview Stephen Colbert onstage Saturday, things didn’t quite go as planned, but the two Daily Show alums handled the moment with grace and used it as an opportunity to highlight the importance of greater autism awareness.
Fleischmann’s interview was cut short when she became distracted by golden confetti on the stage due to her OCD, prompting Stewart to talk about the challenges of doing talk show segments live, and to joke that it used to take three weeks to film one episode of The Daily Show.
“It also shows you something really important because she is a brilliant interviewer and a really funny person, and people with autism have challenges and obstacles to get through,” Stewart said. He went on to take the blame for the way the segment went, calling himself an “a—hole” for shooting the golden confetti out onto the stage earlier in the show. “She’s awesome and she’s super-funny and smart,” he added.
Colbert also approached Fleischmann in the audience later to explain further and promise to do the interview at another time.
“I wanted you to know that Carly’s distraction had nothing to do with her autism and has everything to do with her OCD,” Colbert said. “And I really want to do this interview with Carly. I got a peek at her questions and honest to god this was going to be a real interview and we’re going to do it in the future.”
Colbert said the questions Fleischman wrote were “hilarious” and then joked, “No matter what happened, at least you didn’t bring out Sean Spicer” — a reference to Colbert’s poorly received stunt when hosting the Emmys in September.