I’m shamelessly stealing much of this from Chris Durang at the Huffington Post, so I may as well just cut and paste! Here are the some main points: Colbert’s performance was amazing, if uncomfortable for viewers. Let’s face it, the best satire is usually uncomfortable, and Colbert’s schtick represents a mirror for the worst side of the American press. Most of the biggest neo-con cheerleaders would be present in the audience, and would understandably be uncomfortable with the faux cheerleading of Colbert. As Durang points out, it’s like the scene in Hamlet where the prince forces King Claudius to watch the ‘play’ which not-so-subtly accuses Claudius of murder. I’m just not sure if Bush is Claudius in this simile, or if the whole room is basically just a collection of Claudius’. In more modern terms, Colbert channels the spirits of Lenny Bruce and Andy Kaufman with his ability to make the audience, and the target, squirm.
Colbert’s act was universally trashed or ignored by the mainstream media. A quick Google News search on Stephen Colbert gives a list of 424 hits, but perusing many of those stories (such as The Chicago Tribune, CBS News, The NY Times), they either devote most of their inches to what a meanie Colbert is, or they simply include him as a footnote to the “Bush twin” impersonation act. Colbert’s act consisted mostly of back-handed compliments to the President, and at the end the President seemed pretty peeved. A jester like Colbert would not be doing his job if he didn’t make the President-King question his own flaws.
For your viewing pleasure, here is a link to the Colbert performance (the second link in the search). I won’t be able to watch it until I get home this evening, so I hope everything I wrote was accurate! I did read the transcript, and it reads like gold.