Stephen Colbert’s shocking ancestry

The family secret that reduced the star of the Colbert Report to tears:

Oh, the horrors!

Uber-Catholic Stephen Colbert had an emotional upset after finding out that – wait for it – his family descends from Lutherans.

The funny guy got the oh-so-shocking news while filming an episode of PBS’s  upcoming “Faces of America,” a four-part documentary that focuses on the lineage of celebrities.

“This one was kind of unexpected, but when the big bad Catholic Stephen Colbert found out he was actually descended from Lutherans, he got extremely emotional,” the show’s host, Henry Louis Gates Jr., told us at Monday night's Lincoln Center premiere of the series.

The episode, which airs on Feb. 10, will show the entire ordeal. “We didn’t stop the cameras. Obviously we wanted to capture that moment,” Gates confirmed.

He later added: “There were tears.”

And while a rep for PBS wouldn’t comment, a network insider says Colbert was indeed shocked by his family tree.

“It was really very intense,” says the source.

“He had a very candid reaction, and it definitely made it in the final cut of the show. He was very surprised and overwhelmed.”

Perhaps that was the point. The source added that each celeb’s personal history uncovered on the show is bound to elicit emotion.

Given that Colbert is a master at faux sincerity, what about this revelation might be cry-worthy? Do you see any evidence of his Lutheran blood?

via Reality isn’t funny for Stephen Colbert; ‘Faces of America’ reveals his family history.

HT: Mary Moerbe


Remember jokes? Brief little stories with a funny ending? It seems to me that people don’t tell jokes any more like they used to. Instead they make snide remarks. Even comedians don’t tell jokes much today. Instead they make wry observations and tell about their experiences. So to kick off our Saturday blog, let’s bring back the art form of the joke. What jokes do you know? Ground rules: No jokes that are dirty, demeaning, or offensive. We want to help our president bring America together and banish the national gloom. So, take it away. . . .

Jay Leno was just on too early

Jay Leno Cancelled, Conan Comtemplating Split | TheHDRoom.  NBC’s plan to save money on scripted shows by moving Leno to prime-time didn’t work.  Now the network wants to move him back to late night, to the consternation of Conan O’Brien–who, as Leno’s replacement on the  Tonight Show,is also having ratings woes–and Jimmy Falloon, who is on even later.

This doesn’t surprise me.  Leno is very funny, but you have to be up late past your bedtime his humor to have its full effect.  The same holds true for the other late night comedians, some of whom need to be on really, really  late before they can even seem mildly amusing.  When you are well-rested and in your right mind, they tend to  fall flat.

What do you think should happen?  Conan is considering stomping off and going to FOX.   If they were all on at the same time, would you rather watch Leno, O’Brien, or Letterman?

What’s in; what’s out

The fashion mavens at the Washington Post have put up their annual list of What’s in and What’s out for 2010. Understand that the list is highly tongue-in-cheek and meant to be humorous. Still, it suggests some signs of the times.

True, we old people–defined as anyone married with children and so properly oblivious to fashion–will not know what many of these things even are. But ironically the feature itself suggests a development that is more significant than any of the items listed. If you just read the print story, many if not most of the references are probably going to be incomprehensible. But if you go online, as to the link above, you will find links to explanations. OUT: Print journalism. IN: Online journalism. But a few tidbits:

OUT: Twihards; IN: Randroids [referring to "Twilight" fans and Ayn Rand fans]

OUT: Detroit auto companies; IN: Detroit artist colonies [What the city is trying to promote in all those vacant buildings.]

OUT: Latin fusion; IN: Latin Mass

OUT: Drug tests; IN: Gender tests

OUT: Ripped abs; IN: Ripped jeans

OK, now your turn. fashion mavens that you are in your own way. What trends of the last year (or decade) do you think are now so last year (or so last decade)? What trends do you see coming?

Me first: OUT: Megachurches; IN: Microchurches

Dave Barry’s year in review

One of my New Year’s customs is to contemplate the year gone by, month by month, with the help of Dave Barry. A sampling, but you’ll want to read the whole thing:


Congress passes, without reading it, and without actually finishing writing it, a stimulus package totaling $787 billion. The money is immediately turned over to American taxpayers so they can use it to stimulate the economy.

No! What a crazy idea THAT would be! The money is to be doled out over the next decade or so by members of Congress on projects deemed vital by members of Congress, such as constructing buildings that will be named after members of Congress. This will stimulate the economy by creating millions of jobs, according to estimates provided by the Congressional Estimating Office's Magical Estimating 8-Ball.

Despite this heroic effort, the economy continues to stumble. General Motors, which has sold only one car in the past year — a Buick LaCrosse mistakenly purchased by an 87-year-old man who thought he was buying a power scooter — announces a new four-part business plan, consisting of (1) dealership closings; (2) factory shutdowns;(3) worker layoffs; and (4) traveling backward through time to 1955.

The stock market hits its lowest level since 1997; this is hailed as a great investment opportunity by all the financial wizards who failed to let us know last year that the market was going to tank. California goes bankrupt and is forced to raise $800 million by pawning Angelina Jolie.

The Obama administration's confirmation woes continue as Tom Daschle is forced to withdraw as nominee for secretary of Health and Human Services following the disclosure that he, too, failed to pay all of his federal taxes. He blames this oversight on the fact that his tax returns were prepared by Treasury Secretary Geithner. . . .


An angry nation learns that the giant insurance company AIG, which received $170 billion in taxpayer bailouts and posted a $61 billion loss, is paying executive bonuses totaling hundreds of millions of dollars. This news shocks and outrages President Obama and members of Congress, who happen to be the very people who passed the legislation that authorized both the bailouts and the bonuses, but of course they did that during a crisis and thus had no time to find out what the hell they were voting for.

To correct this situation, some congresspersons propose a 90 percent tax on the bonuses, followed by beheadings, followed by the passage of tough new financial legislation that nobody in Congress will read or understand.

In other economic news, the CEO of GM resigns under pressure from the White House, which notes that it inherited the automobile crisis from the Bush administration. GM is now essentially a subsidiary of the federal government, which promises to use its legendary business and marketing savvy to get the crippled auto giant back on its feet, starting with an exciting new lineup of cars such as the Chevrolet Consensus, a “green” car featuring a compressed-soybean chassis, the world’s first engine powered entirely by dew, and a 14,500-page owner’s manual, accompanied by nearly 6,000 pages of amendments.

Garrison Keillor claims Christmas for Christians

Lake Woebegone sage Garrison Keillor has stirred things up with a column entitled Nonbelievers, please leave Christmas alone. An excerpt:

You can blame Ralph Waldo Emerson for the brazen foolishness of the elite. He preached here at the First Church of Cambridge, a Unitarian outfit (where I discovered that "Silent Night" has been cleverly rewritten to make it more about silence and night and not so much about God), and Emerson tossed off little bon mots that have been leading people astray ever since. "To be great is to be misunderstood," for example. This tiny gem of self-pity has given license to a million arrogant and unlovable people to imagine that their unpopularity somehow was proof of their greatness. . . .

Unitarians listen to the Inner Voice and so they have no creed that they all stand up and recite in unison, and that's their perfect right, but it is wrong, wrong, wrong to rewrite "Silent Night." If you don't believe Jesus was God, OK, go write your own damn "Silent Night" and leave ours alone. This is spiritual piracy and cultural elitism, and we Christians have stood for it long enough. And all those lousy holiday songs by Jewish guys that trash up the malls every year, Rudolph and the chestnuts and the rest of that dreck. Did one of our guys write "Grab your loafers, come along if you wanna, and we'll blow that shofar for Rosh Hashanah"? No, we didn't.

Christmas is a Christian holiday – if you're not in the club, then buzz off. Celebrate Yule instead or dance around in druid robes for the solstice. Go light a big log, go wassailing and falalaing until you fall down, eat figgy pudding until you puke, but don't mess with the Messiah.

I don’t remember hearing Keillor being so crotchety. I’m not sure I agree that only Christians should celebrate Christmas. I think it is a wonderful tribute to the Lord Christ that even people who do not know Him nevertheless unwittingly celebrate His birth, giving gifts and invoking Christmas blessings on their neighbors. It is a case of every knee bowing and every tongue confessing that Jesus is Lord.

UPDATE: Read Lars Walker’s comment on Keillor’s rant. Among other trenchant observations, he raises the important underlying question: Do we think that Christianity with its holidays like Christmas should impact the culture as a whole, or not? Political liberals like Keillor, as well as separatist Christians, say “no.” Christmas like Christianity should be a matter of personal reflection and private practice. But it should be kept out of the secular marketplace. What we see here is that some Christian theologies affirm culture, while others do not. Also, note the agreement on this issue between liberalism and fundamentalism.

ANOTHER UPDATE: And yet, I appreciate Keillor’s critique of Unitarianism, the cultural elite, and the influence of Emerson. I especially appreciate his affirmation of creedal Christianity and the Messiah.

HT: Cheryl at A Ropund Unvarnish’d Tale