Published on June 19th, 2013 | by Sharilyn Johnson


Transcript: Stephen Colbert’s tribute to his mother

Stephen Colbert opened Wednesday night’s show with a tribute to his mom, who died last week at the age of 92. This is the transcript of his speech; video follows below.

Hi everybody. Thanks for being here tonight, everybody in here and out there watching. I’ve been away from the Report for a week because one week ago today, my mother, Lorna Tuck Colbert died. And I want to thank everybody who offered their thoughts and prayers.

Now if you watch this show, and you like this show, that’s because of everybody who works here and I’m lucky to be one of them. But when you watch the show, if you also like me, that’s because of my mom. So before we start the show again, I’d like to tell you a little bit about her.

She was born just a little ways from here in Larchmont, NY on Chatsworth Ave. in 1920, the same week women first got the right to vote. She spent her summers in the Adirondacks with her older sister Colleen and her younger brother Ed, who called her Snodgrass. She met my father James at age 12 at cotillion and she liked him, but she didn’t want him to know how much, so she would make her friends ride their bikes all the way across town to pass by his house, but then she’d never look to see if he was in the front yard, which of course drove her friends crazy. And evidently she also drove my father crazy because they were married and promptly had 11 children.

She made a very loving home for us. No fight between siblings could end without hugs and kisses, although hugs never needed a reason in her house. Singing and dancing were encouraged, except at the dinner table. She’d trained to be an actress when she was younger and she would teach us to do stage falls by pretending to faint on the kitchen floor.

She was fun.

She knew more than her share of tragedy, losing her brother and her husband and three of her sons. But her love for her family and her faith in God somehow gave her the strength not only to go on but to love life without bitterness and instill in all of us a gratitude for every day we have together.

And I know it may sound greedy to want more days with a person who lived so long, but the fact that my mother was 92 does not diminish, it only magnifies, the enormity of the room whose door has now quietly shut.

In her last days, my mother occasionally became confused, and to try to ground her we asked simple questions, like what’s your favourite colour, what’s your favourite song. She couldn’t answer these. But when asked what her favourite prayer was, she immediately recited A Child’s Prayer, in German, that she used to say to my eldest brothers and sisters at bedtime when they we living in Munich in the late 1940s. Her favourite memory of prayer was a young mother tucking in her children.

We were the light of her life, and she let us know it ‘til the end. And that’s it. Thank you for listening.

Now we can get to the truly important work of television broadcasting, which is what she would want me to do. When I was leaving her last week, I leaned over and I said, “mom, I’m going back to New York to do the show,” and she said “I can’t wait to see it. I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

So, with that in mind… this is the Colbert Report.

Americans can view the video of his speech below. Youtube versions have been swiftly removed by Viacom, so those outside the US may wish to seek out a torrent.

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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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