Stephen Colbert has built his considerable following in large part on a studiously maintained, deeply ironic persona. Pretending to be the “arch-conservative blowhard,” he “lampoons the pretensions and hypocrisies of modern American society,” as Seth Mnookin wrote in Vanity Fair a few years back. He has been hailed as an astute media critic; his comedy has been called a “parody of the postmodern.”
But he also knows how to look plain ridiculous. Indeed, his continued popularity depends equally, if not more, on his utter mastery of old-fashioned slapstick humor than on his sophisticated satire. And he has a regular, go-for-broke, fallback option when it comes to physical humor: eating things.
This is a venerable comic activity: In The Gold Rush, for instance, Charlie Chaplin famously ate his shoe. And this particular form of slapstick also reinforces Colbert’s carefully crafted conservative character: He puts his money where his mouth is, so to speak, by ingesting food—and other items—that the people he’s skewering are too hypocritical, or too scared, or too senstive, to eat themselves.
In any case, with Thanksgiving on the way, we thought Stephen Colbert deserved some tribute as the modern master of madcap mastication, so we put together the clips below. Enjoy:
Colbert Eating Food
Colbert proves that a little bit of beef mixed with sand, isolated oat product, and anti-dusting agent makes for a tasty burrito:
Colbert Eating Non-Food
Appalled by the allegations against Herman Cain, Colbert eats the $10,000 personal check he wrote the candidate:
Colbert Eating People (More or Less):
When food falls on Martha Steward’s blouse, Colbert is there to lap it up (fast forward to 7:40):