Yes, it ’s true: AfterElton.com is doing for the Colbert Report what we did in 2007 for The Daily Show: mine its funniest and hardest-hitting queer moments. (And we took this opportunity to update The Daily Show piece with some of Jon Stewart’s queer highlights since 2007, too.)
Colbert, like Stewart, is a strong ally for the gay community, consistently using his fake-conservative persona to smilingly tear homophobic politicians and small minded public figures into tiny little shreds of battered, bleeding flesh, and then – still smiling – feed them to the sharks. In fact, the biggest problem with doing this feature was trying to find a way to fit in all the really good stuff.
We think this is a pretty comprehensive roundup. But an exhaustive review of every single great gay moment on The Colbert Report would be nearly impossible. We hope our readers will augment this compendium by posting any of favorite clips we might have missed in the comments section.
The Word: Gay Gay Gay Gay Gay
Nov 30, 2005
One of Colbert’s signature segments is “The Word,” where he names a word or phrase and does a dual commentary on it: His spoken words, strictly read in his fake-conservative persona, and a simultaneous written commentary that comes from a very different perspective.
The word in this segment is “Gay gay gay gay gay.” Colbert explains, “In street parlance, that means ’really gay.’ In Vatican parlance, it means ’too gay to be a priest.'”
Yes, it’s time for a throw down with Pope Benedict XVI, who wears ruby slippers and fabulous hats while explaining that if you haven’t had the gay sex in three years, you’re not really gay and so can be a priest. But if you have, or even if you just support gay rights, you’re SOL.
Colbert’s commentary includes, “Some people might say, ’Priests are celibate. What does it matter what kind of sex they’re not having?'”
It wraps with one of the only Roman Catholic inside jokes I’ve ever heard, “Don’t let the narthex hit ya where the good Lord split ya.”
Dec. 6, 2006
Once upon a time, there was a sex columnist named Dan Savage. A fake-newscaster named Stephen Colbert invited him to be a guest on his show to discuss gay sex, and thus was born one of the great on-screen love stories of the decade.
This marks the first of many, many appearances Savage would make on The Colbert Report, and it includes such classic moments as Stephen sharing his gay porn name – Tyrone Honeybee; Dan explaining how to find the clitoris; Dan telling Stephen that he once thought he was straight, too, and there’s hope for him.
Stephen points out that Dan is married and has a baby, then finds out that the baby came six years before the wedding. “So you’re so outside of the norm that you had to adopt a baby out of wedlock before you got gay married?” he asks. “You couldn’t even adopt a baby as a gay couple while you were married. That was just ’too straight.'”
The Word: Black Sheep
Jan. 31, 2007
Stephen rails against a study showing that 8 percent of rams prefer sex with other rams than with ewes. (“We’re here. We’re sheared. Get used to it.”)
After all, just because sheep do it doesn’t mean it’s natural. After all, sheep are domesticated. “Plus if Brokeback Mountain is any indication, shepherds aren’t exactly the best role models for young, impressionable lambs.”
In protest of these “homosheepsuals” Stephen pledges to go home that same night and burn everything he owns that is made of wool.
The Word: Pathophysiology
June 13, 2007
Stephen is very disappointed in the progress made in stopping the gay agenda: “The gays continue to threaten my happy marriage by threatening to have their own happy marriages.”
He thinks it’s time to stop treating gayness as a social problem, but a medical problem (“side effects may include continuing to be gay”), as proposed by then-President Bush’s nominee for Surgeon General, Dr. James Holsinger, author of “The Pathophysiology of Male Homosexuality,” which he wrote for one the nation’s preeminent medical institutions, the Methodist Church.
Richard Florida: The Bohemian-Gay Index
July 16, 2007
The author of The Creative Class comes on the show to explain why living next to gay people will make your property values rise. It’s a little nostalgic trip to back before we fully grasped we were seeing the total death of the housing market and collapse of the world economy.
“I guess what this study shows is that people want a house with a view of a goateed beatnik who plays his bongos while he smokes a clove cigarette while working on a sculpture of kd lang,” Colbert says. “The theory is, tolerant communities where homosexuals are likely to reside nurture an open-minded culture of creativity, which can lead to innovations like Google, or YouTube, or ShirtlessHunksBaggingGroceries.com, which will exist in…” He looks at his watch. “Now.”
Prop 8 Protests with Dan Savage
Nov 11, 2008
One of the most frustrating things about the 2008 election was the way the media, including the gay media, took the idea that Prop 8 passed in California because of African-American votes. This idea was later debunked, but in the meantime, a lot of nasty crap got spewed, and some of it’s in this segment.
Colbert starts ranting about the “Gaystapo” in California protesting at Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church, wondering why they’re not protesting at black churches. I think Colbert meant this satirically, but a lot of the news clips he showed seemed to take it seriously – including Rachel Maddow.
Guest Dan Savage also made a joke in questionable taste, not because it was too sexual – I mean, it’s Dan Savage – but because making a “black guys are hot” joke when discussing a painful political schism between two oppressed communities is offensive.
On the other hand, he talked about the difficult position that black gay Americans found themselves in at that time when the passage of Prop 8 was being so widely blamed on African American voters. Savage also pointed out that the real group that pushed Prop 8 to victory was another voting bloc altogether: old people. “Old people are the real villains in the piece, and they’re dying,” he tells Colbert. “Which is some comfort.”
This is also one of the rare episodes where Colbert completely cracks up – something he seems to do every time Savage guests.
Colbert Coalition’s Anti-Gay Marriage Ad
April 16, 2009
Remember the NOM “Storm Coming” ad against Prop 8? Of course you do. It’s the most over-the-top, ridiculous ad ever, and it spawned plenty of spoofs. In this segment, Colbert shows his.
“There’s a new threat to marriage, and it won’t be solved by clearing out your web browser,” he tells the Nation. He calls it “Armagaydon,” and shows the NOM ad.
“I love that ad,” he comments. “It’s like watching The 700 Club and the Weather Channel at the same time.”
Then he says that New York Gov. Patterson had just introduced bill to legalize same sex marriage in his state. “Why can’t we go back to the good old days when governors recognized that a marriage was something between a man, a woman, and an Emperor’s Club hooker?”
Then we get to see his ad, in which an actor says, “Did you know that if all 50 states approve gay marriage, straight marriage becomes illegal?”
Best line: “Paid for by generous donations from an anonymous group that may or may not be the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.”
The Word: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
Oct. 26, 2009
Washington State had just passed its “Everything But Marriage” law, guaranteeing that same-sex domestic partners would get all the benefits of civil marriage under state law.
The group Protect Marriage Washington led a petition drive to get the law repealed by a popular vote, featuring an ad that didn’t have a single line of accurate fact in it: “It’s just another example of the terrible effect gay marriage has had on fact checking.”
Supporters of the law went to court to get the names of the petition signers, to force them out of the closet of bigotry, as it were. But the signers fought back, saying the state law requiring those signatures be made public was unconstitutional. (“The hate that dare not speak its name.”)
Stephen’s furious at the outing, saying he does not believe that signing the petition was a choice. “I think you’re born believing gays don’t have the right to get married,” he tells the camera earnestly.
In fact, he says, “We need to protect this persecuting minority. And the only way I can see to do that is for Washington residents to vote in favor of gay domestic partnerships. Because then, no one will care who signed the petition, and these people can stay in the closet that the gay people have abandoned.”
Nailed ’Em: Mormon Church Trespassing
Nov 3, 2009
Two guys were arrested and charged with trespassing for walking on a public sidewalk in front of the Mormon temple in Salt Lake City while holding hands. One of them even gave the other a peck on the cheek.
The church insisted they didn’t have them arrested because they were gay, but because they were trespassing on what turns out to be a few hundred feet of private sidewalk that the public uses every single day in huge numbers.
Funny, though, that a decoy couple, one man and one woman, making out passionately on that sidewalk doesn’t prompt any response at all. And then there are the two cute Mormon boys making out… okay, it’s just funny, and it’s true, too. Watch it!
Alpha Dog of the Week: Rev. George Rekers
May 5, 2010
Ah, the endless cornucopia of goodness that spills when anti-gay politicians and evangelists ho tumble out of the closet, usually with a rentboy in tow. So awesome!
There’s also a shirtless rentboy working the cameras for Stephen in this clip. It must have been sweeps week.
How to Ruin Same-Sex Marriages
Aug 3, 2010
The second half of this segment wasn’t told in Colbert’s usual persona, or at least, much of it wasn’t. He lays out a plan to destroy same-sex marriages by all anti-gay straight men finding a gay man to befriend, then date, then move to California with, then get engaged to, then stall the wedding for a few years, then jilt him cruelly at the altar, thus ensuring he’ll never, ever want to marry anyone again.
Of course Colbert is joking, but he gets so deeply into this story that you see a side of him, or a persona, we rarely see. In fact, he gets so deep into it, it’s not quite as funny as it may have been meant to be.
The thing is… despite the humor that doesn’t quite work, it’s still tremendously moving. After the very long story is done, and Colbert is fake-sobbing, he whispers, “What have I done?”
Then he shakes his head and stops crying and in a weak voice says, “Saved marriage, that’s what. And we have to, because those people don’t love each other like we do.”
I’s on Edjukashun: Gay History and Disney English
July 21, 2011
California passed a law requiring gay history to be taught in public schools, so Colbert goes through his own version of that history. The segment really hits its stride at around the 3-minute mark, when we get to Michelangelo and Paul Lynde.
Colbert takes on the “undercover gay” who went to Michelle Bachmann’s husband’s ex-gay therapy practice in order to expose him. One of Dr. Bachmann’s prescriptions for wanna-be ex-gays who are invited to a same sex wedding: Take a “heterosexual accountability buddy.”
So Colbert, who’s been around the block with Dan Savage a time or two and seems to think he’s irresistible – he calls him “weapons-grade gay” and says he’s the worst kind of gay guy, “smart, thoughtful, charming, always smells like the first day of spring” — asks his building manager, Tad, to sit in with him and keep him on the hetero and narrow during the interview.
Colbert goes on the attack immediately, criticizing Savage’s belief that a good marriage doesn’t require monogamy. He finally asks Savage if he’s ever committed adultery, and after a pause, Savage answers, “Is it adultery if I’m committing it at one end of a guy and he’s committing it at the other end of that same guy?”
The audience goes nuts, and Colbert totally cracks up. When he finally gets a grip on himself, he goes back on the attack, but Savage objects to how his own argument is being characterized.
He says he doesn’t think non-monogamy has to mean the end of a relationship, and says that in fact, he’s against divorce, particularly if there are children. “My position is really very conservative,” he says sincerely.
“Oh, really?” Colbert asks. “Your position? At which end of the guy?”
The gay stuff starts about halfway through, when Rick Santorum explains that gay marriage is like a napkin and straight marriage is like a paper towel. Colbert agrees, and reminds us not to undermine the sanctity of the thing you use to pick up dog vomit.
He also suggests everyone Google “Santorum,” always excellent advice, and yet more evidence of Colbert’s man-crush on Dan Savage.
Herman Cain 2012: Gay Choice
Oct. 5, 2011
We open with a clip of Herman Cain on The View, saying he believes being gay is a choice.
“Every day he chooses not to be gay,” Colbert says, then adds ominously, “Who knows what will happen tomorrow?”
Did we miss a Colbert Report video segment you feel should be included here? Feel free to add your favorites to the comments!