What Is Colbert Like Out of Character?

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Has Stephen Colbert forgotten himself? As his faux-conservative character has spent years duking it out with diplomats, scuffling with journalists and even (probably unwisely) testifying in front of Congress, it's hard to remember what the his non-ironic self actually talks like. Fortunately, courtesy of an email interview with Reddit, readers can now get a glimpse at the unfiltered Colbert.

First things first: "No one doesn't know I'm in character. I tell everyone first," he responded to one Reddit questioner. "I admire Sacha Baron Cohen, but I am not doing Ali G." But when guests actually agree with the "more ludicrous" assertions he makes as the blustery host, he doesn't bat an eye. "The sort of thing that gets me is when simple lies are not refuted," he wrote. And, the tell-tale question: does he ever want to drop the act for an interview?

I'll say that from my end of the interview, I often have a guest whose subject I happen to know a thing or two about, and I want to engage them intelligently, but I am an aggressively ignorant character. That is frustrating. Of course knowing their subject lets me make the dumbest possible characterizations of their position or idea. If you ever see me truly being vigorously dense with a guest, I probably know something of his or her subject. And as I said, yes, the character aspect may give some people pause.

As for who he would've liked to interview most, Colbert echoed a sentiment of countless pundits: "Salinger would have been nice. I'm a fan."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.