Colbert: Last One to Know How Great He Is?

Almost two weeks later, the Internet is still buzzing about Stephen Colbert's already legendary scorched earth performance at the White House Correspondent's dinner.

It was a quintessential "All About Eve" -- I mean, "All About Steve" -- moment: He walked up to that podium a basic cable cult figure, and came back a political comedy legend.

Start carving that satiric Mt. Rushmore: Swift, Twain, Bruce… Colbert.

AlterNet's Don Hazen just anointed him a "New American Hero" who gave "one of the bravest, most subversive performances in memory" that will become "a huge marker when people look back on the Bush era."

Millions have watched the video of his performance online and/or read the transcript, and tens of thousands of people have posted letters of gratitude and appreciation to

But, shockingly, one of the few people still unaware of just how big an impact the twin evisceration of the president and the puppy dog press has had is Stephen Colbert himself.

When I ran into him the other night at the Time 100 celebration, he told me that he had strenuously avoided reading anything about his appearance -- the good, the bad, or the ugly -- preferring to focus on the present and putting together his nightly TV show.

If anything, he seemed to be nursing a tender spot about the chilly reception his utterly brilliant performance got in the room that night. He is, after all, first and foremost a performer -- and it's tough for any performer, especially one used to appearing in front of a wildly appreciative crowd night after night, to suddenly find himself playing to a hostile crowd. It's the comedy equivalent of having the Dementors from Azkaban enter your body and suck out your spirit.

Nora Ephron framed the dilemma perfectly when she asked, "Is it possible for a comedian to utterly kill and bomb at the same time?"

To which I say, Absolutely. This was Dylan plugging in at Newport in 1965. The crowd may have booed, but the music world had forever shifted.

After my chat with Colbert ended, Evelyn -- Stephen's wife -- told me she was thinking of collecting some of the most interesting comments from the blogosphere and elsewhere about his performance, for when he's ready to read them.

It's a great idea. Here are some excerpts that she should definitely include in the collection. And I hope she convinces him to read them soon:

  • "Stephen Colbert: Jesus Christ? Or just the world's bravest, funniest, coolest man?… One of the more daring comedy routines I've heard…" -- Wax Banks
  • "Cool, methodical, and mercilessly ironic… Mission accomplished." -- James Wolcott
  • "Stephen Colbert has Balls as Big as Church Bells… It was fucking amazing… You'll want it for posterity." -- Shakespeare's Sister
  • "Colbert reaffirmed my faith in -- well -- just about everything… It was a marvel." -- News Hounds
  • "It was brave, it was brilliant, and it was true" -- Attaturk
  • "One of the most revealing moments I've ever seen in American politics." -- Digby
  • "Brass balls, baby. Big ones." -- Ezra Klein
  • "A brave and shocking performance." -- Chris Durang
  • "Watching the Whores of Pennsylvania Avenue, and their retainers and lackeys in the MSM being fed, nipples first, through the Colbert Woodchipper it felt -- for a moment -- like a free country again." -- Driftglass
  • "Merciless skewering of the Cheney administration and its media lapdogs… inserting a brief moment of honesty into an event based upon a lie…" -- Billmon
  • "I loved every second of it…. Blistering commentary on Bush that never strayed from the substance." -- The Carpetbagger Report
  • "It was Colbert's crowning moment… Colbert's jokes attacked not just Bush's policies, but the whole drama and language of American politics, the phony demonstration of strength, unity and vision." -- Michael Scherer
  • "Sarcastic destruction of both the media and its masters…" -- The Left Coaster
  • "A stinging spanking that's been long overdue…" -- Jesus' General

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