In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, Comedy Central host Stephen Colbert revealed the inspiration behind his Colbert Report persona — and the confusion that his antics sometimes create.
“I often don’t know who people invite to come talk to them,” Colbert said in the interview, which aired Sunday on Oprah’s OWN network. “I’m called Stephen Colbert, I have a character called Stephen Colbert, we both have the same social-security number, the whole deal. And I don’t mind if the audience can’t tell who’s who at times.”
Besides drawing attention for his faux-news show, which he described as an attempt “to do a pundit show like Bill O’Reilly or Sean Hannity,” Colbert has won praise for both his performance at the 2006 White House Correspondents Dinner and establishing his own super PAC, which won him two Peabody Awards.
“I like to say that he’s [a] well-intentioned, poorly-informed, high-status idiot,” Colbert said of his TV persona, who blends aspects of CNN’s Anderson Cooper (“just shiny and kind of sexy”), Geraldo Rivera’s “sense of mission” with his stories, and his on-air “Papa Bear,” O’Reilly.
“O’Reilly would be the biggest example because O’Reilly’s the king,” the off-air Colbert told Winfrey. “O’Reilly’s been number one in cable news for fifteen thousand weeks running.”
Watch Colbert’s interview with Winfrey, as posted by Mediaite Monday, below.