Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Many Talents of Stephen Colbert

This weekend's NYT Magazine section has a great cover story on the many "faces" of Stephen Colbert. Comedian, family man, and now chairman of his own Super PAC (Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow), Colbert is living proof that late night comedy can truly influence American politics.


And of course there's Colbert's ability to influence everyday American life:


There is a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavor named after Colbert (Colbert’s Americone Dream) and a NASA exercise device (the Combined Operational Load Bearing External Resistance Elliptical Trainer, or Colbert) and a minor-league hockey team mascot (Steagle Colbeagle the Eagle) in Saginaw, Mich.


I'm a bit partial to the NASA device -- here's an illustration:


Of course, it's Colbert's performance at the White House Correspondents Dinner in 2006 that really started to help the comedian capture the attention of mainstream news outlets and political junkies alike. For a flashback, check out the video below.








All in all a great read for those who are big fans of The Colbert Report and for those of us academics who have shown through research that exposure to political comedy can help to inform the electorate -- particularly younger citizens and those who are less likely to pay attention to politics.

Stay tuned for more research on the impact of The Colbert Report and other late night comedy programs like Saturday Night Live and The Daily Show.

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