Stephen Colbert on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien"
June 27, 2003


 

Conan O'Brien: All right, everybody, my next guest is a writer and correspondent for "The Daily Show". He's also the co-author of the brand new book, Wigfield. Please welcome Stephen Colbert.

I know this is a little awkward, but I've got to bring it up. You applied once—I didn't even remember this—you applied a long time ago to be a writer on this show.

Stephen Colbert: Did I?

CO'B: Yeah. Yes, you did. Like, ah, this was almost ten years ago. I think you were first getting started.

SC: Yeah. Haven't... um... I haven't heard back yet from you guys.

CO'B: This is my way of letting you know that we're still thinking about it.

SC: Yeah, I was actually very thrilled. It was about ten years ago. Um, the first thing I submitted to you guys is... I thought, everybody's got a cityscape. Why not do something a little realer and a little bit newer and, um, have a working farm behind you. Actually truck in soil, plant crops, have chickens, and every so often you could just say to your guests, "Let's go check out the farm." And you'd have a little tractor you could take around to the back. You could harvest eggs and hold them in front of the chickens and say, "I'm taking your babies."

CO'B: Why would you do that? That's a terrible idea.

SC: They don't know. They don't understand.

CO'B: Yes, they do, when you mock them like that. Actually, I love that idea, actually, because everyone has this. Everyone has, "Oh, look it's New York. Ooooooh." But having a working farm, that would be great.

SC: Then come harvest time you could go over the border to Connecticut to, like, a small liberal arts college, say Fairfield, and get some coeds, and smuggle them back to New York in the trunk of your car and force them to harvest your crop. That's sort of your version of migrant workers.

CO'B: Yeah. That's the worst idea I've ever hears. You had me sold on the farm, and now I'm just angry. I don't know what happened. Now you are well-known for your deadpan delivery.

SC: Thank you.

CO'B: You have a fantastic deadpan delivery. Do you model yourself after anybody?

SC: Oh, absolutely. Stone Phillips.

CO'B: Stone Phillips?

SC: Stone Phillips, yeah. I've kind of got the hair. Can we get a shot of the hair?

CO'B: Yeah.

SC: I think I have the Stone Phillips hair. You have a nice shelf... right here. You want a nice... almost a razor-sharp shelf right here.

CO'B: I think you've got the second-best hair here tonight, I really do. We should have a hair duel where we're pounding our hair into each other. It's legal now in Texas. Now, my question is, what are we doing? Why are we...? So, so, Stone Phillips is your comedy hero.

SC: Yeah, I like him because he's so... he's so... manly. You know? I would do anything to have a neck that thick. You know, it really looks like he could take a bullet. And he likes to punctuate his news with a manly head wag. It really makes him seem more believable. He could say, like, you know, um, [imitating Phillips] "There were no... survivors."

CO'B: That's done with invisible string too. He doesn't have to do it himself anymore. They have fishing line that maneuvers his head.

SC: Like the Hall of Presidents?

CO'B: Exactly. Yeah, yeah, very nice. Well, I'm sure he'll be thrilled when he finds out what a fan you are.

SC: Yeah, I'm also a huge fan of Geraldo Rivera. I mean, um...

CO'B: Now you've gone too far.

SC: Well, I like Geraldo Rivera because, um, we're very similar except, um, slightly more people laugh at Geraldo than they do at our work at "The Daily Show".

CO'B: They just like his work. They prefer it. Let's talk about "The Daily Show". On "The Daily Show" you are well-known for going out and getting these amazing interviews with strange characters from across America, and you've interviewed people that actually believe Bigfoot exists, are convinced that Bigfoot exists.

SC: Yeah, I've interviewed a lot of, uh, some of the biggest Bigfoot experts in the United States. Um, I've interviewed the people who believe that Bigfoot is endangered. I've interviewed the people who believe that Bigfoot, um, uh, that the Bigfeet, as they call them, are overpopulating and that they're destroying their environment...

CO'B: How does that become a...

SC: There's not a lot of consensus in the Bigfoot expert community.

CO'B: There's a lot of squabbling, yeah. But how could someone think that there's too many Bigfoots running around when noone actually has proof that they exist? How can someone make that argument?

SC: Um, I think a fair amount of Bigoot experts are, um, early-morning drinkers.

CO'B: Okay.

SC: I met somebody in Florida who believed that Bigfoot was in Florida, as opposed to the Pacific Northwest, and that Bigfoot was stealing his pot of lentil soup... that he would make... and this man greeted me at 10:00am stone drunk, shoeless, shirtless, wearing two albino Burmese pythons.

CO'B: And these are the people you're going to for credible scientific information on Bigfoot.

SC: Aaaaah, yeah, those are my experts.

CO'B: Very nice. I like the Stone Phillips way that you said that too. You just, uh, yeah...

SC: [imitating Stone Phillips, once again] They... are my experts.

CO'B: Very nice. You could hurt yourself with that.

SC: I think that's how he got the big neck.

CO'B: He got the big neck from over-tilting that head? And that's a big head he's got, too. That's a big melon. Um, let's talk about Wigfield. It's a very funny book. And this book, which you've written with Amy Sedaris and Paul Dinello, two very talented people, um, and, uh, in this book you explore this small town, and, uh, you play various characters in the book.

SC: We all portray the 21 characters in the town.

CO'B: And you portray... when I heard that, I thought that you would probably be playing, you know, different guys, and actually you play someone known as Raven... in the book.

SC: Yeah, Raven's and exotic dancer, um, I think is how she would describe herself.

CO'B: And, and, and, uh, you play... Can we just, 'cause I swear to God I didn't know this was you. Let's take a look at this shot of Raven. This is actually you, um.

SC: Nice.

CO'B: Yes, I am jealous, and I suddenly want to get to know you better.

SC: When my brother Jay saw that and he said, um, "Hey, hey. How do we know her?" And I pointed at myself and, um, he goes, "O.K.  How do you know her?"

CO'B: And then what did he do when you explained that that is in fact you?

SC: He was a little disturbed.

CO'B: I would think so. Did that take a lot of doing to get you to look like that? Waxing?

SC: Aaah, it's hard to tell from the photo, but, um, I had to have my chest waxed. Um, which is pretty much tortures of the damned. I had a very no-nonsense Eastern European woman, who said to me, um, "Ve vill do your nipples last. Because de nipples, day are de vorst."  And, um, actually I found out that I could have the hair ripped off my nipples all day.

CO'B: You didn't mind it?

SC: No, it's the center of my hair that was so painful.

CO'B: Right in here [gestures to center of chest].

SC: Right in here. This is the part that turns beet red. And then they just Photoshopped the rest of my hair out anyway. We took the photos and I said, "Why... why... why did I have to be tortured?"  And they were like, "Oh, we forgot to tell you. We could just Photoshop your hair out."

CO'B: So they could've just with, like, Control-Alt-Delete taken the hair off your body anyway and that wouldn't have been necessary.

SC: Absolutely.

CO'B: Are you hairless now?

SC: I'm an eel. I'm like an eel. This is fake [pointing to top of head]. These are fake [gesturing to eyebrows].

CO'B: I guess that was just the strangest exchange I've had in years on this show. "Are you hairless now?"  "I'm an eel."  I'm gonna put that on our website immediately. Uh, the book is really funny, and people should check it out. Wigfield is going to be performed live at the Lucille Lortel Theatre in New York, July 17th through the 19th. And the new book, Wigfield, is in stores now. Stephen Colbert, thank you very much for making time for us.

SC: Thank you.

CO'B: Very nice to have you.