Jacob Zinn :: journalist + photographer

Making Your Mark: Stephen Colbert

Posted in Observations, TV & Film by Jacob Zinn on June 10, 2009

From The Daily Show to his own show, Stephen Colbert has made a name for himself in just the last five years. He has a lot to show for it beyond his three Peabody Awards to match his three Emmy’s. (He would’ve won a fourth Emmy, were it not for Barry Manilow.)

He just finished filming a weeks-worth of episodes for his show, The Colbert Report (silent T’s), broadcasting from Baghdad, Iraq. Dressed in a camouflage suit in front of thousands of soldiers, Colbert performed his usual deadpan satire and political jokes, even with a guest appearance by President Barack Obama via satellite.

This comes days after Colbert was the guest editor of Newsweek. In the latest issue, he continues his style of humour the same way he would on his TV show.

I set the editorial agenda, assigned stories and yelled at Peter Parker to get me more photos of that web-slinging vigilante, Spider-Man. He’s a menace!

The Colbert Report has only been on the air since 2005, but it’s popularity has soared, much like the bald eagle in its opening sequence. The show has opened doors for Colbert and has added to his now-lengthy list of accomplishments, which include the following:

• He was the featured speaker at the 2006 White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner, in front of then-President George W. Bush and a large gathering of politicans and celebrities. In the last speech of the night, Colbert criticized the Bush government and the media (all with a sense of humour), and though his speech didn’t receive significant news coverage, it gained popularity on the Internet and earned him the award for Gutsiest Move at the 2007 Spike TV Guys’ Choice Awards.

• In the debut episode of The Colbert Report, he introduced the word “truthiness” to the world, which became Merriam-Webster’s 2006 Word of the Year. (Though it doesn’t appear to be in their dictionary.)

TIME magazine named Colbert one of the 100 most influential people of 2006.

• On September 30, 2006, OHL hockey team the Saginaw Spirit from Saginaw, MI named it’s co-mascot Steagle Colbeagle the Eagle after Colbert. In January, Colbert made a wager with Oshawa, ON Mayor John Gray over whose team would win. When the Saginaw Spirit defeated the Oshawa Generals 5-4, Gray’s birthday (March 20) was declared Stephen Colbert Day for losing the bet.

• In February 2007, Ben & Jerry’s introduced Colbert’s AmeriCone Dream, a new flavour of ice cream. You know you’ve made it big when you have a flavour of ice cream named after you.

• He was featured in the May 2007 issue of GQ.

• Virgin America named one of its planes Air Colbert in August 2007.

• He released his book, I Am America (And So Can You!) on October 9, 2007 and reached number one on the New York Times Bestseller List for 14 weeks.

• On October 16, 2007, Colbert announced that he would be running for the United States presidency in the 2008 election. He tried running as both a Republican and a Democrat in South Carolina, but dropped the Republican side when he realized it had a $35,000 fee to run. Then, on November 1, the South Carolina Democratic Party refused his application in 13-3 vote, saying they didn’t think he was a serious candidate.

• The Associated Press named Colbert the Celebrity of the Year on December 20, 2007.

• On August 6, 2008, a species of trapdoor spider was officially named after Colbert, titled Aptostichus stephencolberti.

• On September 8, 2008, it was announced that Colbert’s DNA would be digitized and sent to the International Space Station for preservation.

• Though he had already dropped out of the 2008 presidential bid, Colbert was still featured as a presidential candidate in The Amazing Spider-Man #573 in October 2008.

With the number of things named after him and the accomplishments he’s made since starting The Colbert Report, he has quickly become a very successful and well-known TV comedian. And with his DNA in safe-keeping, he just might make his mark on future generations, long after he’s gone.

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