Colbert Asks Malcolm Gladwell If He's Ever Read a Book and Gladwell Makes the Host Cry (Video)

The bestselling author and voice of "Revisionist History" plays by his own rules.

Photo Credit: The Late Show/YouTube

Five-times bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell is “cocktail chatter bait,” as "Late Show" host Stephen Colbert puts it. 

"For a living, you say things other people haven’t thought of before," Colbert told Gladwell, as he introduced the guest. 

"You’re setting the bar awfully high," Gladwell responded humbly.

But Gladwell is doing just that in his reinterpretations of history, otherwise known as his "Revisionist History" podcast.

"Think with your eyes, feel with your ears," Gladwell told Colbert. "Think about it, you write a book, you can communicate complicated ideas and people can grasp them. But you can't move people emotionally."

"Have you read a book?" Colbert retorted.

While Colbert's question was clearly steeped in irony, Gladwell may not have been the right audience for that quip. 

"Laughing is not the high bar. The high bar is crying," Gladwell explained. 

Colbert was taken aback.

“Your work makes people cry, which you just said is better than what I do for a living,” Colbert retorted, fighting back tears. 

Gladwell then told the host about the time he discovered "real emotion," as he puts it. “There’s a moment in my second-to-last episode of my show where I’m interviewing this 98-year-old Mennonite pastor from Lancaster County, but there’s a moment when he’s talking and he just starts to cry and everyone in the room is crying and I’m trying not to cry because I’m trying to conduct an interview on tape and I didn’t want to sob," Gladwell revealed.

Colbert wonderered what the center of Gladwell’s belief system is.

“What is the core of Malcolm Gladwell?" the host asked.

“I just want to explain things to people,” Gladwell answered. 

And cry.


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Alexandra Rosenmann is an AlterNet associate editor. Follow her @alexpreditor.