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Colbert’s epic goodbye

Epic send-off to Stephen Colbert yesterday night, demonstrating what a good show can and does – very occasionally – do: make us part of a kind of warm and intelligent family. Colbert, like Jon Stewart, feels like a really good friend. I’ve never watched Johnny Carson or Letterman or those other late night guys Americans are addicted to – who wants an hour of clever, cynical banter as you go to bed? But Stewart and Colbert are different because they CARE passionately about the world, and from the same angle I do, at a time when the voices on the right, the Republicans and their mouthpiece Fox “News,” are not just wrong-headed but criminally petty, blind and selfish.

Colbert is a joyful man, that’s what so rare about him and why he could get away with playing a blowhard egotist for so long. We sensed the joy right through the absurdities he was spouting. And to see the depth of his friendship with Jon Stewart, two wealthy, successful men at the top of their game, hugely important in the American media panorama, dealing with each other with brotherly love … am I getting carried away here? I don’t think so, if you’ve ever seen them together.

So we knew Jon surely would appear last night, and sure enough, he did. At the very end – after Colbert had vanquished Death – yes, typically over the top – Stephen began to sing We’ll Meet Again and I thought, Oh God, surely not, how sentimental. Then a door opened and Jon Stewart appeared to a roar of approval, and the two linked arms and continued to sing. Wait – isn’t that Randy Newman playing the piano for them?

And then they all appeared, celebs pouring in, all kinds, from all ends of the political and entertainment spectrum strewn about the stage singing, musicians, actors, politicians, writers, Muppets – Big Bird, my almost-friend Carol Spinney in costume with his giant orange feet! It was marvellous. Henry Kissinger! The failed politician Elliot Spitzer, unashamedly singing. A shot of someone singing on a spaceship. A panorama of faces, there to pay tribute to the king of truthiness.

I hope this next project works for you, Stephen. You’ll do it without the cynicism others have found necessary for the job. Thank you for your commitment, your courage, sense of humour and giant joyful heart, your own invaluable kind of truth.

It was nearly impossible to get all of them, but here are some of the famous faces we spotted: Jeff Daniels, Sam Waterston, Keith Olbermann, Tom Brokaw, Katie Couric, Ken Burns, Howard Stern, Cory Booker, Bryan Cranston, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Charlie Rose, Tim Meadows, the Cookie Monster, James Franco, Toby Keith, Big Bird, Andy Cohen, Christiane Amanpour, David Gregory, Randy Newman, Willie Nelson, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Mandy Patinkin, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Cyndi Lauper, Andrew Sullivan, Ric Ocasek,  Michael Stipe, Kareem Abdul Jabar, Barry Manilow, Bill DeBlasio, Jeff Tweedy, Patrick Stewart, Stone Phillips, Arianna Huffington, Alan Alda, George Lucas, Alexai Lalas, Henry Kissinger, Elijah Wood, Mike Huckabee, Bob Costas, Nate Silver, Dan Savage, Thomas Friedman, Matt Taibbi, Mark Cuban and Paul Krugman.

There were many more, plus those not in studio: members of Pussy Riot; Vince Gilligan; and then Bill Clinton wishing Colbert well. 

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11 Responses to “Colbert’s epic goodbye”

  1. chorlbeck1 says:

    Jeesh Beth. Give us Fox-intoxicated, crazy right-wingers a break. We're not the monolithic, moronic group you think we are. Maybe we even like to enjoy a quiet swim without having to engage in a heated uninvited conversation. Make room for afew of your neighbors to the South who might be on a different wave-length but pretty much ok people who just Don't see things through your lens.Just trying to figure things out and hoping our grandchildren have a future in a pretty unstable and complex world. Believe it or not, I read both the NYTs and the WSJ . And while I may line up behind one more than the other I try and keep. up with both points of view. There are lots of people of good will here.

  2. beth says:

    Hi whoever you are, thank you for responding. I certainly know there are lots of people of good will here – some of them were singing with Colbert last night. And I come from the country of the horrible Stephen Harper, so you're right, I shouldn't point a finger at my American cousins for their right-wing ways. It's just that what I've seen, heard and read of Republicans obstructionism and hatred for Obama, to the point of paralyzing the country over and over again, horrifies me. However, I'm sure if we met, we'd find common ground in talking about our grandchildren and avoiding politics.

  3. beth says:

    By the way, I had to look up WSJ – I guess the Wall Street Journal is the favoured paper of the right? And when I brought up that bumper sticker, it was not to provoke a discussion but to be funny – to me, the concept that "Guns don't kill people" is a joke. But obviously not to everyone.

  4. chorlbeck1 says:

    Right.But you can't say anything around here without ticking someone off.

  5. beth says:

    So I gather! I'll be more careful in future. Or else I won't and I'll just tick people off, because it's good too, sometimes, to challenge people's assumptions, no? As long as I don't do it to people like the guy in the picture I posted from Texas, shopping in a convenience store with his grocery cart in one hand and an AK-47 in the other.

  6. chorlbeck1 says:

    Ummm no. I Don't like to be high jacked. I generally try to live and let live. There is too much rancor in the world already. I also try to think that most people, no matter which side of the fence they are on, would try and help you up if you fell flat on your face.Besides, why only two points of view to flail over??? Lots of people, lots of opinions. Surely most people can find common ground. Bumperstickers are a little bit "in your face" to me. So are people who walk around with their guns . Who would want to d disagree with them.

  7. chorlbeck1 says:

    BTW, I have a son who is a real Consevative and a daughter who just moved to Minnesota and is thrilled that Al Franken is her Senator. I believe that they have the same hopes for the future, but one is an artist and a dreamer, the other has his feet planted firmly on the ground. They experience life quite differenttly but at least try to to make sense of it all. Yikes.

    .

  8. beth says:

    Congratulations on raising two engaged citizens, even if you don't agree with both. It's important that they care. Though I do have to say that though I also am an artist and a dreamer, my feet are firmly on the ground, on the very left-wing ground where I am comfortable and belong. Al Franken is a wonderful man. Congrats to your daughter. Nice to chat with you, dear thoughtful and interesting reader.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I cried when they sang "We'll Meet Again". Then I remembered that it was the song that was sung at the end of the movie, Dr. Strangelove. So, as the poet said, hot baths of pathos were followed by a cold shower of irony.

    js

  10. beth says:

    OH that's interesting, I didn't remember that. Love what the poet said, above. Thanks for enlightening us, JS.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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