A relaxed Stephen Colbert was on hand to accept the first-ever award for Person of the Year at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, Colo., on Friday night, calling the character that made him famous a “well-intentioned, poorly informed, high-status idiot.”
Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report, (the t’s are silent), centers on the megalomaniac musings of Colbert’s eponymous late-night cable pundit. The show has been a sensation since it launched in October 2005. Since then, Colbert has been named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People and one of People’s Sexiest Men Alive. He also played, to very mixed reviews, in front of a Washington crowd of politicians and pundits at last year’s White House Correspondents Dinner, a performance that seemed to bomb in front of D.C.’s self-serious sorts, but became infamous once it hit online video sites such as YouTube and Google Video.
This Monday, Ben & Jerry’s will launch an ice cream named after him, Stephen Colbert’s Americone Dream, with all proceeds going to Colbert’s new non-profit, the Stephen Colbert Americone Dream Fund.
Colbert has been coming to Aspen since the festival began 13 years ago. Back then, he played the late-night circuit to rows of sleepy people, proclaiming to Friday night’s crowd that he “tanked historically.”
Interviews work best on The Colbert Report when guests talk “sincerely and let me be ignorant about it. The best laughs they can get are through correcting my stupidity,” Colbert told moderator Jeff Greenfield of CNN.
“I think it doesn’t work when they have a joke or two that they’re desperate to say on the show, and then they don’t really actually listen to the conversation. And then you do the interview, and they don’t listen to the conversation. They’re waiting to drop the joke in the middle of the interview and it lands there like conversational plutonium. So you wait for its half-life to pass and you sweep it off.”
While the award officially went to the “Person of the Year,” ostensibly to avoid sexism, Colbert insisted on referring to it as “Man of the Year.”
Clutching the crystal pentagon, he said: “Person of the Year seems androgynous.”