The Greatest Gift of All

Stephen’s Christmas special premiered Sunday, November 23rd, and I’m sure Comedy Central will have it in regular rotation from now until Christmas. It’s also available on DVD with extras such as an Advent calendar of clips and a Yule log/book burning fireplace for your TV. In two days I’ve discovered that it’s one of those shows that gets funnier with each viewing. The first time I was a bit off-balance, not knowing quite what to expect. It’s like a Russian doll of nested parodies: the years of TV Christmas specials, bits familiar from the Report (bears, the War on Christmas), and all the guest musical stars parodying themselves. Stephen’s children have a small cameo.

Commercialism, multicultural sensitivity, the weird secular attempts to find meaning apart from religion–predictably nothing is sacred, including the sacred. At one point Stephen starts a seemingly heartfelt prayer and then throws in the line, “First time pray-er, longtime fan.” Canadian indie singer Feist’s number “Please Be Patient” combines angels and overworked customer service operators. But while it may cross a good-taste line from time to time, it never strays into the offensive.

Comments welcome! I think it lives up to its hype.

I’ll add some clips in the next few days, but at the moment I’m having trouble with the embedding code. It looks like they’re all up at the Colbert Nation site.

Peace and Love

No, not another of the ubuquitous promos for Stephen’s upcoming Christmas special (this Sunday, November 23, 10 pm!!). Rather, a lovely twist at the end of last night’s WØRD segment. I write homilies for a living, so I know how easy it is to get caught up in all those fuzzy words: hope, change, peace, love. And yes, Stephen had me squirming a bit while I was watching. But his shift at the end brought it all back home. As a friend of mine said, “It doesn’t get any more Catholic than this.” Amen. He came back at the beginning of the next segment with the forgotten tagline, “and that’s the WØRD,” looking a bit sheepish that he’d forgotten it.

A “respectful” wag to “your Popiness.”

Stephen’s still objecting to the Vatican’s efforts at going green. As usual the clip has a delicious mix of irreverence.

“Riding the children and livestock bubble.”

This episode didn’t completely slip past me, although I confess I did sleep through most of it when it originally aired. I love the reprise of Stephen dancing behind Barney Frank. But the reason it’s here is a lovely shout out to The Book of Job.

Woohoo! Congratulations!

Congratulations to Stephen and the other writers for their much-deserved Emmy win! For those who missed the show, here’s a clip of the presentation. For more coverage of the Colbert Report and The Daily Show at the Emmy festivities, head on over to the incomparable No Fact Zone.

The Scandalous Gospel

Catholic Colbert has not fallen into a black hole after all. Last night’s interview with Peter J. Gomes has roused me out of oblivion. I’ve been a fan of Professor Gomes since he published The Good Book.

Watching him nudge Stephen out of character last night was simply delightful. The premise of his book is that Jesus shakes up the status quo. His message for contemporary readers is that too often we don’t want to be shaken out of our clinging to the way things are.

Take a look at their exchange. I’m off to the library to get a copy of the book.

“Don’t ask, go to hell”

Mea culpa! I’ve been away from here too long. I do want to do a collection of the Obama Church Search clips, but in the meantime, Thursday’s show had a segment on the threatened split in the Anglican church over ordaining gay priests. I love the way Stephen captures the irony of the Anglicans looking for a stronger central authority, having been founded on that very issue. Lots of layers here. We haven’t had a full religion segment like this in a while.