Entertainment Weekly has selected its annual “Entertainers of the Year,” and rightfully so, that list includes Stephen Colbert for 2006. To mark the occasion, Dan Snierson chats with the host of The Colbert Report, about his entertaining year:
Entertainment Weekly: It’s obviously fun to see you in full-on Colbert mode, but it’s also entertaining to see you struggle not to break character, as if the absurdity of what you’re doing is suddenly washing over you.
Colbert: I try to wear it very lightly. The show was an extension and an amplification of the stuff I had done for Jon [Stewart on The Daily Show], and the character’s attitude over there, while self-important, was variable in terms of the way I expressed it, because I had to be paint on Jon’s brush. But as we started to make this more consistent, my refrain was, ”I can’t be an a–hole.” And Jon kept saying, ”You’re not an a–hole, you’re an idiot. And second of all, if you just enjoy yourself, the audience will know. Don’t wear it so heavily.” And that has been a really wonderful note from him. While I want to be consistent in the character, I’m having such a good time doing it… [Sometimes] I break. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it, because if the audience has occasionally sensed that I’m also perceiving the absurdity of what I’m doing, I don’t come off as such a jerk.