Stephen Colbert biography
Stephen Colbert was born on May 13, 1964, in Washington, D.C. After joining Chicago’s Second City comedy troupe, he met comedians Amy Sedaris and Paul Dinello, and together they created and starred in both Exit 57 and Strangers with Candy. In 1997, Colbert began appearing in episodes of The Daily Show. In 2005, he was given his own spin-off show, The Colbert Report. He published I Am America (And So Can You!) in 2007.
Comedian and talk show host. Stephen Colbert was born in Washington, DC, and grew up in Charleston, South Carolina, the youngest of 11 children. In 1974, when he was 10, Colbert experienced what was likely the defining event of his childhood when his father and two of his brothers were killed in a plane crash. He grew introverted, finding solace in reading, especially science fiction and fantasy novels of the likes of J.R.R. Tolkien.
Stephen Colbert started coming out of his shell through acting, which he did in several school plays at Charleston's Episcopal Porter-Gaud School. He later enrolled at Hampden-Sydney College of Virginia with the intention of becoming a philosophy major, but it wasn’t long before he reconsidered and transferred to Northwestern University, enrolling as a theater major.
After graduating from Northwestern in 1986, Colbert moved to Chicago and took a job in the offices of the Second City comedy troupe. Two years later, after taking improv classes there, he was asked to join the traveling group. He accepted the offer and spent the next two years on the road.
At Second City, he met comedians Amy Sedaris and Paul Dinello, and together they created and starred in two Comedy Central series: the sketch show Exit 57 (1995–1996) and the spoof of after-school specials Strangers with Candy (1999–2000); a movie based on the show came out in 2006.
In 1997, just before Strangers got picked up by Comedy Central, Colbert began appearing in episodes of The Daily Show as a conservative correspondent, in the guise of a humorless but hilarious persona he had perfected. With both Strangers and The Daily Show running—and the latter becoming a huge hit in the early 2000s—Colbert’s career was gaining traction, and his own show, a spinoff from The Daily Show, was just around the corner.
The Colbert Report
In the fall of 2005, The Colbert Report (with the "t" in Report being silent) began airing on Comedy Central, featuring Colbert as a starchy, blustery right-wing host—a parody of pundits who dominate the talk show airwaves. The show was instantly one of Comedy Central’s highest rated shows, bringing in over a million viewers per episode in its first week.
Six months after The Colbert Report debuted, however, Colbert appeared as the featured speaker at the 2006 White House Correspondents' Association Dinner. With President George W. Bush and first lady Laura Bush just a few feet away, Colbert proceeded to give an off-color tirade that left the audience silent and had the critics divided—some praised him and others said he had crossed the line into disrespect.
The controversy only ignited further his popularity, though, and The Colbert Report has been a Comedy Central powerhouse ever since.
When Stephen Colbert is not deadpanning on TV, he keeps busy writing—he published I Am America (and So Can You!) in 2007 and contributed to 2004’s America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction. He also arranged (with Jon Stewart) the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear, a gathering in Washington, D.C., that served both to parody events staged by conservative commentator Glenn Beck and the Rev. Al Sharpton and to attempt to get a serious dialogue going on issues of the day.