Here's What Stephen Colbert Would Tell Studs Terkel If He Could
From Slate, a pretty cool new feature that we're going to try to keep up with: They've taken the simple idea of Studs Terkel's outstanding oral history book Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do -- " the best book you were assigned in college but didn’t read" -- and turned it into a podcast. It's a series of interviews by David Plotz, asking people what they do at their jobs -- with a bit of a shift in emphasis from Terkel, who wanted to know how people feel about their jobs, to much more detail about how the job gets done.
The inaugural interview is with Stephen Colbert, the actor and writer, talking as himself, out of character, without a word from "Stephen Colbert," the character he plays on The Colbert Report. We've always loved Colbert's interviews on Fresh Air, which are among the few times he steps out of character and talks about that character and about the real guy who plays him; this interview with Plotz, however, is even more focused, a step-by-step look at how Colbert and his staff craft their comedy from day to day. Needless to say, Colbert is of necessity a media junkie, and spends a large chunk of his day following the news, starting with a digest of video clips from his producers and a twice-daily news digest, plus visits to Reddit, Slate, the New York Times, Drudge ("to see what the order of the day is, what the crimes of the day, as described by one of the voices of the right"), FoxNation and Fox News, Huffington Post, BuzzFeed, and of course CNN, "to see what absolute middle-of-the-road, over-the-plate news was three days ago.” He tries to keep up so that when he gets a story pitch, he doesn't have to rely on the writers to know what they're talking about.
There are also some lovely little insights into how Colbert sees his show:
My show, unlike, say, what The Daily Show does, is that my show is a false construction of the news, as opposed to a pure deconstruction of the news. I embody the bullshit, I don't just point it out to you. I don't do it nearly as deeply as they do at The Daily Show, because half of our process has to be constructing it in the other direction.
This is one terrific 38 minutes of a guy who really loves his work, explaining in fascinating detail how he does it, and how he relies on his staff to find guests that will work for the "Colbert" character to interview, and how he navigates through an interview in character, which he especially loves since he gets to play on his past in improv. Perfect listening for your Sunday-evening vegetable chopping.
Studs Terkel would approve, we think.
Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.