Late Night Television

Published on January 4th, 2012 | by Sharilyn Johnson


NY Times & the third Stephen Colbert

Do yourself one favor today: set aside 20 minutes and read this New York Times profile of Stephen Colbert, scheduled to run in the Jan. 8 edition of their Sunday Magazine.

Click to view the photo essay by New York Times photographer Todd Heisler.

Writer Charles McGrath gets as close as you’ll find to perfection in profiling the man, the character, and the other character. Wait… the other character?

The thesis of the piece is that there’s a third “Stephen Colbert”. The Stephen Colbert who, as he often says, is the one thrown pond of the news so that he can report on his own ripples.

Granted, he recently said that the third version of Stephen Colbert is the one who does interviews as his real self, and has to meet the expectations of those who want to see the character. So the headline “How Many Stephen Colberts Are There?” is apt.

It’s the shades of grey that make both the man and the character increasingly fascinating, and this piece does a beautiful job of making sense of it in black and white.

Equally great is the accompanying set of 13 photos by Times staffer Todd Heisler, which may be the first to truly rival Charles Ommanney’s award-winning Newsweek photo essay from 2006.

Related stories:

Stephen Colbert at the New Yorker Festival

The Colbert Report: A Paley Panel Pointform

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About the Author

is the author of the book Bears & Balls: The Colbert Report A-Z. Called "one of the city’s most discriminating comedy critics” by NOW Magazine, Sharilyn has been covering comedy for longer than she cares to admit. She served as the comedy reporter for Winnipeg's Uptown Magazine for five years, and was the host of the radio show Laugh Tracks for three seasons. Her work has also appeared in the Toronto Star, the Winnipeg Free Press, The Apiary, and on CBC Radio's national comedy programs LOL and Definitely Not the Opera.

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  • The Colbert Report A-Z

    Third Beat editor Sharilyn Johnson presents the ultimate fan guide to The Colbert Report, available from all major booksellers including