Monday, April 4, 2011

Stephen Colbert: "Please Don't Blog This"

The Internet is all a-buzz about Stephen Colbert’s latest act of brilliance: a performance of Rebecca Black’s “Friday” on the Jimmy Fallon show. It began as a challenge when Colbert’s BFFSM (Best Friends For Six Months), Jimmy Fallon, announced that if $26,000 was raised for by Friday, Colbert would be on his show to sing what Fallon called, “one of the most important songs of our time.”

According to Wikipedia, “ ‘Friday’ is a song written by Clarence Jey and Patrice Wilson, and performed by Rebecca Black, a 13-year-old American singer. The official video became a viral hit due to criticism of the song's lyrics, the use of Auto-Tune on Black's vocals, and the content of the video.”

In short, the song sucks. Here’s a sample of the ridiculously bad lyrics:

“Yesterday was Thursday, Thursday
Today i-is Friday, Friday (Partyin’)
We-we-we so excited
We so excited
We gonna have a ball today

Tomorrow is Saturday
And Sunday comes after … wards
I don’t want this weekend to end”

Colbert’s rendition begins on a dark stage, a single spotlight on him. He’s wearing a tux and crooning the lyrics as if it were a ballad. But then the lights come up, the tempo changes and Fallon’s house band, The Roots, plays behind Colbert as he bounces to the beat. Absurdity mounts to a fever-pitch when "American Idol" winner Taylor Hicks bursts through a giant calendar, singing and playing harmonica.

The Colbert version of “Friday” is much more fun, fun, fun than the original video. In fact- dare I say? - I kind of like the song now. All it took was some clever mockery. Colbert has shown us once again his comedic genius.

The thing is, I have a hunch the only thing Colbert cared about was raising money for his charity. There’s a very sweet side of him the public rarely sees.

Last year, on April 28, I went to an event in Manhattan celebrating the 50th anniversary of the book, To Kill a Mockingbird, where Colbert was a featured reader. It was held at Symphony Space and hosted by Thalia Book Club. A panel of Mockingbird experts sat on stage, took turns reading from the book and had a discussion about the impact the book had on their lives. Colbert seemed on odd addition to the group, but we were curious to see what he might add to the evening.

Colbert was late due to the taping of some little show of his (The Colbert Report) but when he arrived, he took a seat in one of the folding chairs on stage and was asked to tell the audience the role Mockingbird played in his life.

“I was assigned the book to read in the eighth grade, so naturally, I didn’t read it for the first time until I was 23.” Colbert went on to say that the book had such an impact that he rereads it every year or so. In fact, his copy is in such bad shape it’s held together with a rubber band.

When asked to read from the book, he went to the podium and remarked “I cannot read any part of the book aloud without crying, so please don’t blog this.” (I waited a year, that’s not bad!) He didn’t choke up; he read a passage from chapter 22 clearly and reverently.

After some discussion, the event came to a close and all the participants wandered off stage. While waiting for my mom to return from the restroom, I was lightly bumped in the shoulder by someone working their way through the crowd. With only minor interest, I looked up and saw that it was Stephen Colbert. He was talking to three people next to me.

I heard him make his goodbyes and decided on the spot that I needed his autograph for my son. (I thought it would make me some points.) “Excuse me,” I said as he turned towards me. “Can I have your autograph?” He said “sure” and as I fumbled for paper I realized all I had was a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird. I opened to the first page and handed him a pen.

His hand hovered over the book. Finally he smiled and said, “I’m sorry, I just can’t sign the book.” I nodded in understanding and he was gone. That was impressive. Frankly, I felt like an ass for asking in the first place.

I’ll close with some random facts you may not know about Stephen Colbert: 1. He’s more handsome in person than he is on TV. (He has beautiful skin.) 2. He can be very humble. During a Q&A segment that night, he was asked about his show. He apologetically replied that the evening wasn’t about him and that he didn’t want to talk about that. 3. He’s a Taylor Hicks fan. No, I didn’t find that out that night, but it is a random fact you didn’t know, right?

Note: We watched The Colbert Report that night and he was wearing the same clothes he had on at our event. cool.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love him. I saw him in PA at a special taping of the show, and in between spots, he really did seem like a genuinely thoughtful person.

It's nice to see someone who is a success for something other than being a twit. :)