Life & Style

Stephen Colbert on America Again: Re-Becoming the Greatness We Never Weren’t (Transcript)

Full transcript of Stephen Colbert on America Again: Re-Becoming the Greatness We Never Weren’t @ Authors at Google. Eric Schmidt hosted this event and took place on December 7, 2012 at Google’s New York office.


Eric Schmidt – Executive Chairman, Google [Host]

Stephen Colbert – Comedian

Listen to the MP3 Audio here: Stephen Colbert on America Again- Re-Becoming the Greatness We Never Weren’t @Talks at Google


Stephen Colbert: Thank you.

Eric Schmidt: Welcome to Google.

Stephen Colbert: A pleasure to be here in the flesh. I watch you guys online all the time. Really great show. It’s slow, but you just never know where the plot’s going.

Eric Schmidt: We have asked our employees what questions they have. I’m going to give you the first question. This is an anonymous question.

Stephen Colbert: So they ask the employees? You’re not asking the employees. They are.

Eric Schmidt: No. The questions have asked the employees — the employees have asked the questions —

Stephen Colbert: So you’ve done nothing. You’ve done nothing.

Eric Schmidt: I do nothing. That’s correct.

Stephen Colbert: You’re just a titular figurehead.

Eric Schmidt: That is correct.

Stephen Colbert: All right.

Eric Schmidt: So the anonymous question from Michael Jones goes like this.

Stephen Colbert: That sounds like an anonymous name, actually.

Eric Schmidt: “I don’t understand the title ‘America Again: Re-becoming the Greatness that We Never Weren’t.'” This is, of course, your new book, which is already the number one best seller in the nation.

Stephen Colbert: Yes. Yes. Thank you.

Eric Schmidt: “‘America again’ suggests re-creation. ‘Re-becoming’ suggests re-creation. ‘The greatness,’ ‘we,’ is clear. All of this is logical and fine, although obviously Yoda-esque. But then case A, ‘never were’ was the impression that you were trying to create would be a perfect conclusion. But you added the apostrophe, n, t. Taken in total, this would be a clever play on words, meaning once again becoming the country we hypothecate, have built in myth or a fable. Is this not the title?

Case B, ‘never weren’t’ which is what you chose, which means — ” I’m not done yet, Stephen.

Stephen Colbert: I know. No, no. Go on. Go on, please.

Eric Schmidt: OK. “Which means we never were not, and thus never have been. And thus, the whole phrase is once again becoming the country we have always been. This is strictly logical, which you cannot become, which you’re not at present.” What do you say to this?

Stephen Colbert: Well, I say to this. To Michael —

Eric Schmidt: This is the hardest and toughest criticism of your title that I have ever seen.

Stephen Colbert: OK. So Michael. Michael Jones. Michael, the fool says in his heart there is no God. But by God, he means that thing then which no greater thing can be conceived. But by conceiving of that thing, he automatically defines God as whatever he can greatest imagine. Therefore, God does exist because he has imagined that thing which must be greater in reality than in his imagination.

Eric Schmidt: I completely agree.

Stephen Colbert: Those of you who are not familiar with St. Anselm’s ontological argument, I’ll boil it down for you again. “America Again: Re-becoming the Greatness We Never Weren’t” has to be written this way. Because clearly, our country’s in trouble. Yes? OK. OK, you can tell because I am the country, and I’m all beaten up on the cover here. We want to re-become the greatness, right? All right.

But if I said, we never were, then that would mean America was never great. Right?

Eric Schmidt: Yes.

Stephen Colbert: But if I said that we presently aren’t, that would mean I am criticizing America, which you mustn’t ever do. Therefore, it’s “America Again: Re-becoming the Greatness We Never Weren’t.” Unless you’ve got something bad to say about America, Eric Schmidt. Do you have something bad to say about America? Because let me know. Because I’m sure all these people and YouTube would love to know what problem you’ve got with the US of A, mister. Because I don’t. And I’ve proven it with a title that makes no sense.

Eric Schmidt: But I thought you just convinced us that it did. Now, I want to continue.

Stephen Colbert: The title is a peon to all the — the Republican Convention, for instance. The Republican Convention said, America is great. And we mustn’t listen to these people who criticize our country and do not think it’s the greatest country in the world. And then in the next sentence, they would say, we must return to greatness. They would say it sometimes in the same breath.

Eric Schmidt: Makes perfect sense.

Stephen Colbert: Yeah. American exceptionalism means the rules don’t apply to us. But the feeling on the right is that we are losing the game of being a country. And so this is trying to capture both of those feelings. There’s a dichotomy. There’s a cognitive dissonance that constantly exists on the right, and even more strongly now, that we must return to a greatness that we presently have. Yes.

Eric Schmidt: Now, I want to explore —

Stephen Colbert: Did anyone — hold on. Did anyone recognize — I’m sorry I’m stopping you in the middle asking me a question. But it’s Google, and there are no rules. I’ve been told I have to keep my pants on. But that’s it. And that he will enforce it strictly. You will enforce this strictly. Did anyone recognize Saint Anselm’s argument for the ontological existence of God? Yes, you did? Move to the head of the class, where you already are.

Eric Schmidt: He actually used Google. You pretty much ran for president and raised a Super PAC and so forth.

Stephen Colbert: Yeah. I did absolutely have a Super PAC. And I kind of ran for president. I ran as much for president as I wanted to avoid violating federal law.

Eric Schmidt: OK. Good answer.

Stephen Colbert: Good lawyer.

Eric Schmidt: Now, Jim DeMint has just announced —

Stephen Colbert: Jim DeMint, yes. Jim’s a friend. But go ahead.

Eric Schmidt: He’s just announced that he’s retiring. And it occurs to me that you might want to — you’re from South Carolina originally, I think.

Stephen Colbert: Yes. I’m from South Carolina, the palmetto state.

Eric Schmidt: You might want to run for Senate. Have you considered —

Stephen Colbert: No, I do not want to run for Senate. I want Nikki Haley to just appoint me to Senate. That’s the great thing. People are asking me, are you going to run for Senate? I’m like, no. Why would you run? She just gets to say, it’s you. So yeah. I’m honored by what you’re implying and by the groundswell that I’ve felt. But obviously, that’s something I have to take up with my family and my pastor before I decide whether to take that position. Is there another question, Senator?

Eric Schmidt: Do you think that Bill O’Reilly would be a better choice?

Stephen Colbert: He’s not from South Carolina. But he’s a very talented man. And I sincerely admire his broadcasting abilities.

Eric Schmidt: But you’re locked in a deathly battle.

Stephen Colbert: With Bill right now?

Eric Schmidt: Yes.

Stephen Colbert: Oh, you mean over the —

Eric Schmidt: The book.

Stephen Colbert: Over the book, exactly. Bill’s got a book out called “Killing Kennedy.” And I admire his obsession with terrible things happening to presidents. He’s got “Killing Lincoln,” “Killing Kennedy,” “Sodomizing Coolidge.” That’s a kids’ book. And he was on Jon Stewart’s show. And he said his next book’s going to be called “Killing Colbert.” And it broke my character’s heart so much to hear papa bear say that. So we launched operation killing “Killing Kennedy,” where I’m just telling my audience out there — I’m not telling you to buy my book. I don’t want to abuse the relationship. But I’m just reminding them, if you’re going to buy my book — and you are. If you’re going to buy my book, just do it all in one week so we can leapfrog at least one of his killing books.

Eric Schmidt: Which week do you want us to all buy your book?

Stephen Colbert: Right now. As we speak.

Eric Schmidt: Right now? This week?

Stephen Colbert: Yes, right now. Go right now and go to a local bookstore, a small bookstore, a big bookstore, online.

Eric Schmidt: Your book is on Google Play.

Stephen Colbert: What does that mean?

Eric Schmidt: It’s our online store. You’re going to end up being your best —

Stephen Colbert: Yeah, I know all about Google Play. Really?

Eric Schmidt: Yes.

Stephen Colbert: Go to Google Play.

Eric Schmidt: Absolutely.

Stephen Colbert: And what happens there?

Eric Schmidt: People are going to pay you lots of money to buy your book.

Stephen Colbert: Well, then it’s a wonderful service. Excellent. So you go there, and you click on it? It’s like going to — it’s like that one that’s named after a rainforest? You go to that one, and you click on it, and you get it?

Eric Schmidt: Yes, it’s the competitor to the rainforest.

Stephen Colbert: Good.

Eric Schmidt: And furthermore it’s —

Stephen Colbert: Good. Because we got to preserve that rainforest. We got to start making books out of that rainforest. Do you get a physical book from you guys, or is it all the ebook thing?

Eric Schmidt: It’s an ebook thing.

Stephen Colbert: It’s only ebook?

Eric Schmidt: You can get a physical book, too. We’ll sell you one of those.

Stephen Colbert: You will?

Eric Schmidt: Yeah, we’ll get it through your publisher.

Stephen Colbert: Good.


Eric Schmidt: At list price, no less.

Stephen Colbert: What? At less price?

Eric Schmidt: At list price.

Stephen Colbert: At list price. At list price? So go to Google+ for no deal. If you’re willing to pay list — which you should. Because if you pay list price, they include more book.

Eric Schmidt: Understood.

Stephen Colbert: I’m not going to give any of this stuff away for free.

Eric Schmidt: I want to explore some of the — and I should not turn this into an Android commercial.

Stephen Colbert: Go ahead.

Eric Schmidt: But Android is now —

Stephen Colbert: Now, Android is?

Eric Schmidt: The operating system that we sell.

Stephen Colbert: Got it. Got it. All right.

Eric Schmidt: And Android is five times larger than the iPhone.

Stephen Colbert: I know. I know.

Eric Schmidt: And Google Play runs on that.

Stephen Colbert: No, I read that someplace.

Eric Schmidt: So people will actually be reading your book on the most popular operating system.

Stephen Colbert: Then it’s going to make my book better.

Eric Schmidt: Absolutely.

Stephen Colbert: OK.

Eric Schmidt: Which is why we support it.

Stephen Colbert: Great.

Eric Schmidt: Good. Let’s try —

Stephen Colbert: I have a Google tablet. I have a Google tablet. I have that little Google tablet. It’s got that slightly pebbled finish and everything.

Eric Schmidt: It’s phenomenally successful.

Stephen Colbert: Can I make a suggestion?

Eric Schmidt: Yes.

Stephen Colbert: Can I add an external volume thing on it?

Eric Schmidt: Yeah.

Stephen Colbert: Because you actually got to go into a screen to do the volume. An external —

Eric Schmidt: That would cost extra.

Stephen Colbert: I’m made of money.

Eric Schmidt: OK.

Stephen Colbert: After this thing —

Eric Schmidt: I want to explore the precedents that brought you to this view of American exceptionalism. And I want to understand why “A Man for All Seasons” is your most favorite book.

Stephen Colbert: Well, it’s a play. But the book form of it is actually one of my favorite things to read. The introduction to “A Man For All Seasons,” which is by Robert Bolt — and if you’ve never seen it, it’s the story of Sir Thomas More, or Saint Thomas More if you’re a Catholic. And I’m a Catholic. And it’s the story of the man who was a friend of the king, King Henry VIII. And he was made chancellor of England. And Henry wanted to get rid of his wife, be done with Catherine and get Anne Boleyn in there. And Thomas More wouldn’t put his hand on a little black book, raise his hand and say, I agree with the king. He just stayed silent, wouldn’t say anything. And Henry chopped his head off.

Eric Schmidt: We saw this in “The Tudors.”

Stephen Colbert: Yeah. It’s a little different in the play. But less of this in the Robert Bolt version. I really like it, because it’s the story about essentially, is there any part of you, as More says, is there any part of you that is not your appetites? Is there any part of you that is not your fears and not your desires? In other words, is there any part of you that doesn’t want or reject? Is there any part of you that is just you and from which you cannot retreat? And when I first started doing the show, I asked, especially the people who were at the head of my show, for instance, Allison Silverman, who was my original executive. No, she was my first head writer. I said, I’d love you to read this essay. Because certainly during the Bush administration, there was no criticism of President Bush when he first started. We tried to fix that.

Eric Schmidt: Yes, I’m going to come back to that.


Stephen Colbert: What?

Eric Schmidt: I’m going to come back.

Stephen Colbert: OK. And there were so many people who were afraid to be critical of the government at all because you could be called anti-American. And I love the play, because in this example, he loves the king but can’t agree with him, in the same way that someone could love their country but not agree with them. And can you bring yourself to swim against the tide of all your fellows? Can you keep yourself with your own opinions and your own ethics, your own morals, regardless of the tide of the times? And the Bush administration was — so many people got swept in the wrong direction, I think.

Eric Schmidt: And what was interesting was — I was in the audience when you gave the speech at the correspondents’ dinner.

Stephen Colbert: Oh, you were there?

Eric Schmidt: Yes.

Stephen Colbert: OK.

Eric Schmidt: You know, I have nothing else to do. And so I was sitting there. And I was shocked that they were foolish enough to invite you, because you were so good. And I think that performance put you from sort of a specialized service to a truly national figure. That’s my opinion. I think it literally changed the perception of you in society.

Stephen Colbert: I went from boutique to chain store at that point, I guess.

Eric Schmidt: It was like a step function.

Stephen Colbert: What’s a step function? What’s a step function?

Eric Schmidt: It’s a big jump.

Stephen Colbert: Oh, OK. Sure.

Eric Schmidt: It’s a mathematical term.

Stephen Colbert: Like the number line? Like the number line? Is that what you mean by math?

Eric Schmidt: That’s what we do.

Stephen Colbert: Number line, I got the number line down.

Eric Schmidt: So it was like a really big discontinuous jump. And why do you think they invited you? Did they know what they were getting themselves into?

Stephen Colbert: They’re coming for me. I’ve been waiting. I’ve been waiting. I did peer through the blinds for a couple weeks after that show. I got invited really early. The show started on October 17, 2005. And — all right.

Eric Schmidt: So this building was used by the Port Authority to bring buses up and down. Those are the bus —

Stephen Colbert: Lifts.

Eric Schmidt: Elevators. So there’s a truck about to come in and destroy us all.

Stephen Colbert: Good.

Eric Schmidt: It’s backing up. That’s the backing up sound.

Stephen Colbert: Well, I’m glad to be here with you at the end, Eric Schmidt.

Eric Schmidt: I thought the end was on December 21.

Stephen Colbert: Probably, yeah. Probably. Yeah. Though I’ve — yeah, probably.

Eric Schmidt: No need to plan for anything on December 22 in the Mayan calendar. Getting me back to President Bush, who we’ve conveniently forgotten —

Stephen Colbert: Well, I was invited by the press, actually. For the correspondents’ dinner, you are invited by whoever is the head of the White House press corps that year. And it was a guy named — I think it’s Mark Smith was the guy from the AP, I think. And he invited me. And we were only a few months into the show. We started in October 17, 2005. And it was January, I think, or early February when I got the invitation. And I said to my agent, James Dixon — I said, let me call him back. Let me call him back. And I said, I think I want to do this. I’m going to call him back. And I called Jon Stewart immediately. And I said, “Hey, Jon, I got invited down to the correspondents’ dinner. What do you think? What do you think?”

And he goes, “To be a guest? What you mean?”

And I said, “No, they want me to be the guy”.

And he goes, “What? Have they ever seen your show?”

And I said, “I don’t know. I said, I’m not going to ask”. And I said, I think I kind of got to do it.

And he goes, “You’ve got to do it”. And then we were really worried. I knew I’d never get this opportunity again. No one’s ever going to ask me back. But about two weeks out, we started working on it about a month out. And the very first joke we wrote for it was, people say that this administration is just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. That is wrong. They are not sinking, they are soaring. If anything, they are rearranging the deck chairs on the Hindenburg. And to me, that was the spirit of the entire thing. Like, how positive could we be — while they knife them? And the press too. And the press too, of course. Because people forget that, half of it like, we did 10 minutes on the administration, 10 minutes on the press.

But anyway, about three days before I went down there, we’d been working. We do 161 shows a year. And we pulled very long weeks. As I was saying before, 65, 70 hour week. And we were super tired. You guys know what that’s like, I’m sure. And I go in, I get my coffee from a very nice woman who was from Algeria. And I walked into her coffee shop right before I went down there. And she goes, “Oh, babies, you’re so tired. What’s wrong?” And this is my Algerian accent. And I told her what I was working on.

She goes, “You’re performing for the president?”

I said, yes. And I go, he’s going to be five feet away from me the whole time.

And she said, “But you are, uh, a critic. You’re a critic”.

And I said, “Yes. But I get to do my jokes just right at him”.

And she leaned across. She’s a little lady, very cute. And she leans across the counter. And she took my chin in her hand. And she said, “It’s a good country”.


And I said, “Yeah. It sure is”. And I told that story to the President. Because there’s a party before the correspondents’ dinner that’s really great. It’s you, some cabinet members, heads of several press organizations, and the President. And my family was there. And my mother loved President Bush. He couldn’t have been nicer to my mom. It was really a charming party. And I told him that story. Because he goes, it’s nice we can do this. And I told him the story And he goes, only in America. And it was a very positive kind of vibe that lasted for about another hour. It was fun. It was a really fun night.

Eric Schmidt: But from that point, something happened in America. You and Jon Stewart actually became the major political operatives, whether you like it or not.

Stephen Colbert: I don’t.

Eric Schmidt: Well, trust me.

Stephen Colbert: Because I’m a comedian. I’m not a political operative. I make jokes about the news. A lot of the news is about politics. That’s not my fault.

Eric Schmidt: OK.

Stephen Colbert: Do you know what I mean? Political operative means that you have some gain beyond what you’re doing. Politics itself means I am not telling you my intention. I am showing you an action that is causing a reaction from you while I’m playing another chess piece over here. And together I will triangulate some secretive way where I will achieve power over you. Political action is class against class. I’m not trying to get power over anybody. That’s why I don’t like the idea of political actor in any way. I’m making jokes. I’m trying to make you laugh about something that I care about. About something I care about.

Eric Schmidt: But the fact of the matter is that the trusted organizations of our society have been replaced by you and Jon.

Stephen Colbert: Bullshit. And I’ll tell you why. No, no. I’ll tell you why. I’ll tell you why.

Eric Schmidt: Am I right?

Stephen Colbert: Because if that was true, they — no.

Eric Schmidt: Come on. Come on.

Stephen Colbert: That’s lovely. That’s lovely. Because people have asked me this before. And I don’t think that’s true, because if that was the case, people wouldn’t get my jokes. Because I’m not explaining that much to you. First of all, you have to know what I’m referencing to understand half of my joke. And two, I don’t explain the news story that well to you. People come to me with knowledge. They might enjoy watching the show more than they enjoy watching straight news. But they had to have gotten news someplace else before they get to me, or else they wouldn’t care.

Eric Schmidt: But independent of whether I’m right or you’re right, the fact of the matter is —

Stephen Colbert: No, no. I’m right. It matters who’s right, I think. It matters who’s right. Because this is what’s wrong with news. They say, independent of who’s right, let’s talk about something. No. Someone’s right. I’m saying you’re the problem, Eric Schmidt. That’s what I just said.

Eric Schmidt: Let’s agree that there is an issue between you now and the Washington establishment because you have enormous reach.

Stephen Colbert: I’ve got to be careful where I point this thing is what you’re saying? Because it’s loaded.

Eric Schmidt: Wag of the finger.

Stephen Colbert: Yeah. Wag of the finger. Exactly, yeah.

Eric Schmidt: Wag of the finger. So do you think you and Washington are oil and water? How do you think it plays out?

Stephen Colbert: Man, they don’t seem to like it when I go down there. They’re never that thrilled when I show up. So I don’t know if we’re oil and water. But it’s not my world. I don’t have any desire to have political power. People thought Jon and I were doing that rally to be players and to — what was it? We were accused of trying to actuate the youth vote and to drive people to the polls to win for the Democrats. And we’ve got this power. How will we exercise this political vote gun that we’ve got with a quarter of a million people on the mall and all this attention? And it just reminded me of — I’m a huge “Lord of the Rings” fan, as people sometimes know. And there’s a great moment in “The Lord of the Rings” where — if there’s somebody here who doesn’t know the plot, they got a ring. They’re trying to destroy it to get rid of Sauron. Listen, 10 years ago, people were going, oh, yeah. What’s the story about?

Eric Schmidt: Is —

Stephen Colbert: Oh, no, no. This is important. There’s a meeting toward the end of it. Gandalf says to everybody here, everybody in the meeting — it’s Aragon and some other people. And he goes, listen, our only hope, our only hope for Frodo and Sam to succeed is that Sauron cannot imagine anyone would want to destroy the ring. He can’t imagine we don’t want this power. When people kept on saying, what’s their intention with this rally? It was like, we’re just Frodo and Sam. Washington is Mordor. We’re trying to throw the Ring of Divisiveness into the fires of Mount Mall.

Eric Schmidt: So why can’t they just fly Frodo into Mordor and throw the ring in and solve this problem?

Stephen Colbert: Because they’d see him coming. And the Nazgul have flying steeds.

Eric Schmidt: I don’t think DC has any Nazguls.

Stephen Colbert: Oh, you’re back to the metaphor. I thought you were talking about something important, “The Lord of the Rings.”

Eric Schmidt: Why don’t we continue?

Stephen Colbert: What do you think of my little metaphor there?

Eric Schmidt: I think your metaphor’s fantastic.

Stephen Colbert: Thank you. Thank you. You’re a very smart man.

Eric Schmidt: I want to continue.

Stephen Colbert: Thanks to you, we got a great shot of the mall with all the people on it. You helped us out with that map image.

ERIC SCHMIDT: Yeah, absolutely. Google Maps are phenomenal. Ask an Apple user. I want to ask — things are going really well.

Stephen Colbert: In this interview right now?

Eric Schmidt: No. No. In Google. And I wanted to ask, for the benefit of our employees, tell us more about the Colbert Platinum.

Stephen Colbert: Colbert Platinum?

Eric Schmidt: Yes.

Stephen Colbert: Well, Colbert Platinum, it’s a rare opportunity to upgrade your membership to the nation. It actually upgrades your citizenship in the United States. It gets you into all the finest things that I can’t even tell you about, because you’re not in the Platinum yet. You know how rich people have better things than other people?

Eric Schmidt: OK.


Stephen Colbert: Like that.

Eric Schmidt: OK. How do these prospective members join?

Stephen Colbert: Working for Google is a good start. The Platinum is actually a piece we do on the show, Colbert Platinum, about the Platinum lifestyle.

Eric Schmidt: Now, you tell everyone to turn off their televisions unless they’re —

Stephen Colbert: If you’re not a Platinum member of the nation, this is not for you. So we tell them to go off and go drink their store brand sodas and come back to us later, which is good for them. I understand it’s good for them. They just need the carbonation. But we stopped doing Colbert Platinum, actually, because the economy got so bad that we actually felt it bumming out the audience. So for a while, we changed it. Starting in 2009, we stopped doing Colbert Platinum because it really was bumming out people. And also, high end things weren’t being bought, like personal submarines and stuff like that. So we changed it for a while. We changed it to Colbert Aluminum. And then now we just don’t do it at all. But we’ll relaunch it again sometime.

Eric Schmidt: I cannot wait. Now are you going to have a whole year of “Hobbit” stories?

Stephen Colbert: No, we did a week.

Eric Schmidt: I know you did a week.

Stephen Colbert: We did a week of it. And I kind of maxed out. And we got to come back. We got to leave Middle Earth and come back to America in the new year.

Eric Schmidt: And so in this doctrine of American exceptionalism, which is I think what the book is actually about.

Stephen Colbert: It is. That’s the first chapter is the thesis statement, American exceptionalism. Rules don’t apply to us.

Eric Schmidt: OK. So if that’s true, how does America become great if the rules don’t apply to us?

Stephen Colbert: Buy the book. Every chapter tells us how to return to what we already know is the right thing, is to reject socialism, reject collectivism, and go with the gut. We even have a chapter just on food. Why America is the crispest, crunchiest, most corn-fed nation on earth. And if you are what you eat, then put a stick up our butt, and we’re all corn dogs, walking around.

Eric Schmidt: In preparing for this book, did you study the amendments to the Constitution? And did you have any opinions about the amendments?

Stephen Colbert: I always have opinions about the amendments to the Constitution. I mean, everybody’s got their top, what their top 10 amendments are.

Eric Schmidt: Do you have a top one you like?

Stephen Colbert: My number one would probably be the Second Amendment. And my number two would probably be the First Amendment. And then probably my third would be the Seventh. My fourth would be the Tenth. Fifth would be the Ninth. Sixth would be the Eighth.

Eric Schmidt: Is everybody writing this down?

Stephen Colbert: Yeah, get this down, because I don’t have a rationale behind it. So I won’t remember.

Eric Schmidt: OK. I’m waiting for you to think some more about the amendments, what they stand for, American exceptionalism.

Stephen Colbert: Sure. I have nothing more to say, Eric Schmidt. No, but there’s nothing about the Constitution in the book.

Eric Schmidt: But the Constitution allows this book to be — it’s free speech.

Stephen Colbert: Sure, no, no. Yeah, well, the Second Amendment allows this book to exist.

Eric Schmidt: The First —

Stephen Colbert: Because if anybody — no, no, the Second Amendment. Because if anybody stopped me from publishing this book, I would shoot them in the face. Do you understand me? Understand me? Are we clear?

Eric Schmidt: That’s very, very clear.

Stephen Colbert: It does. The Second Amendment guarantees all other liberties.

Eric Schmidt: I think it’s time to start getting some questions from our audience.

Stephen Colbert: That’d be great.

Eric Schmidt: Who would like to ask a question? We have a microphone right here. And we have a microphone right over here.

Question-and-answer session

Stephen Colbert: I like these moments of silence.

Audience: I’ve got one for you. I’m curious to know when’s the last time you had to audition for something. And how did it go?

Stephen Colbert: Well, I’ll tell you the first time I didn’t have to audition for something was for “Law and Order, Criminal Intent.”

Audience: I actually remember that.

Stephen Colbert: I played a forger who lives with his mother who’s sort of a psycho who kills people through the mail with lie bombs. And I didn’t have to audition because they said, we wrote it with you in mind.

Audience: Nice compliment.

Stephen Colbert: It’s been a while. Boy, I paid my dues, though. I auditioned for a lot. I don’t know. I mean, I’ve auditioned for movies, I guess. But I’ve been doing my show for seven years. I don’t think I’ve auditioned for anything since I’ve done my show because I don’t have time to hypothetically do something. Do you know what I mean? I either have to do my show. Or if you’d like me to do something, I can try to make time for it if it still sounds like it’s going to be fun or challenging or something like that. But seven years, eight years, something like that. I don’t mind auditioning. I really don’t. Because if I was on the other side, I would definitely want to know whether the guy could do it. I don’t want to hire somebody because they’re famous or really handsome.

Eric Schmidt: You have a question over here. Meanwhile, I’ll ask you how do you think Google can become the greatness that we never weren’t?

Stephen Colbert: It kind of already is. And I’m not trying to blow secondhand smoke up your butt. Google can be anything you want it to be. Because it’s a reflection of your own desire. It’s a porthole toward what you want it to be. Unless you guys are putting some restricters on the information that I think I’m getting, then it is anything we want it to be. Because it’s an actuator, or it’s a pathway to what we want, rather than the thing we want itself. Do you know what I mean? So it’s the finger that allows us to look at the moon.


Eric Schmidt: Good. We’ll take that.

Stephen Colbert: You know what I mean? Don’t look at my finger. You’ll miss out on all that —

Eric Schmidt: Everyone understood that’s the strategic — go ahead.

Audience: Hi. This is a few years ago, but what actually happened between you and “The Venture Bros.” guys? Is there bad blood there, or was there a miscommunication?

Stephen Colbert: No, I can’t do my show and do that. I also had to quit “Harvey Birdman,” too. I just couldn’t do my show and do the voiceovers. Because I think “The Venture Bros.” was great. And I loved doing “Harvey Birdman.” But they had to wait for me too much. Do you know what I mean? I eventually couldn’t do any of it anymore. When I had to quit “Harvey Birdman,” I played a guy named Phil Ken Sebben and a guy named Reducto. And Phil Ken Sebben would say things like, haha, bobbly parts. And when both of them died on one show — they were both hit by a bus on the same corner at different parts of the same cartoon by the same bus. And if you freeze the frame at the moment that I get hit, my characters get hit, on the side of the bus, it says, watch “The Colbert Report,” 11:30 on Comedy Central. But no, there’s no bad blood. I think they’re both great.

Eric Schmidt: Employees have submitted questions online. Here’s one that I’m not quite sure how to interpret. So I’ll just read it to you.

Stephen Colbert: Sure.

Eric Schmidt: “Would you rather fight one horse-sized duck”–

Stephen Colbert: Or one duck-sized horse.

Eric Schmidt: –“or 100 duck-sized horses?”

Stephen Colbert: Yeah. Yeah. 100 duck-sized horses, I would say. 100 duck sized horses.

Eric Schmidt: You heard it here first. That’s a clear answer.

Stephen Colbert: That’s a clear answer. Did I win? Is there a right answer there?

Eric Schmidt: I’m sure there is.

Stephen Colbert: How about you? What would you rather do?

Eric Schmidt: I would pick the opposite.

Stephen Colbert: A horse sized duck? Are you insane? I mean, it’s not a sharp beak but one blow. The thing has got to weigh like 1,200 pounds. Whereas duck-sized horses, you could just snap their spines as they came at you. What I don’t understand is, why are we fighting them? Wait a second. I know why I’m right. I know why I’m right. Because horses are vegetarian, and ducks are carnivores. The duck would come at you. And the horses essentially would leave you alone unless your pockets were filled with hay.

Eric Schmidt: Which they are not.

Stephen Colbert: Which they are not, as far as we know.

Eric Schmidt: OK. That’s a very clear answer. Yes, ma’am?

Audience: Can you recall a time that you were struck speechless?

Stephen Colbert: Yes. Several, but the one that leaps to mind immediately was when I had Jane Fonda on the show. And without preamble, she got up, sat on my lap, and stuck her tongue in my ear. And I was rigid. I didn’t know what to do. And if anyone’s old enough to remember Johnny Carson, there was the famous time when a spider monkey crawled on top of his head. He was having Jack Hanna on. And a spider monkey jumped on his head. And I thought, Jane Fonda is my spider monkey. I don’t know what to do with myself.

Eric Schmidt: Googlers have continued to suggest important questions as a follow up to the duck versus horse debate.

Stephen Colbert: Oh, really?

Eric Schmidt: Yes. Here’s the next one.

Stephen Colbert: As a follow up?

Eric Schmidt: Yes.

Stephen Colbert: From my answer, on a piece of paper? Google’s that good that they’re actually transmitting onto a piece of paper right now? Why are you withholding that technology from the rest of us?

Eric Schmidt: We really are.

Stephen Colbert: Wow.

Eric Schmidt: “What are your plans for welcoming the royal baby?” This is the question. I’m sorry. “Any suggestions to what the baby should be named?”

Stephen Colbert: Stephen Colbert’s got a nice ring to it, obviously. Charles Phillip Arthur George, George Phillip Arthur Charles, Arthur Phillip Charles George.

Eric Schmidt: All four?

Stephen Colbert: Any one of those.

Eric Schmidt: In whatever order?

Stephen Colbert: Sure. Sure. If there’s an infinite number of four names.

Eric Schmidt: There are, well, 2 to the 4th.

Stephen Colbert: 16 or something. 2 to the 4 or whatever you said.

Eric Schmidt: 4 times 3 times 2.

Stephen Colbert: Something like that. Whatever. I don’t know. I don’t know. Again, the number line. The number line. That’s what I liked when I was a kid. No matter what class you were in, whether you were in first grade or if you were in calculus, the book starts with the number line. First pages is let’s remind ourselves what integers are.


Eric Schmidt: Another Googler has asked —

Stephen Colbert: That was the middle of a sentence just now.

Eric Schmidt: OK. Another Googler has asked —

Stephen Colbert: You people have to put up with this. I’m so sorry. Power mad, is what I would describe you.

Eric Schmidt: Googlers have asked, “How would you officially determine if a tree is balanced? What is the runtime of your algorithm?” For your benefit —

Stephen Colbert: If a tree is balanced — a tree is balanced if you can hang ornaments on any part of it.

Eric Schmidt: That’s a very good argument. Did you have a question? Yes, go ahead.

Audience: What is the difference between Stephen Colbert, the person, and Stephen Colbert, the character? And what were the challenges in you becoming Stephen Colbert, the character?

Stephen Colbert: There are a lot of differences, I hope, between me and my character. I mean, there are some things we have in common. We’re both from South Carolina. We’re both fans of Tolkien’s work. Though, I tried to keep that separate at first. I tried to keep that membrane. At first I was like, no, no, no. That’s too important to me. I don’t want him to have that. But there were too many opportunities for me to wax about it. So I went ahead and let that membrane be permeable. But we’re both super Catholics. He thinks he’s Captain Catholic. I still go to church. And I’m not a particularly pious or devout Catholic. Though I still go. He’s a well-intentioned, poorly informed, high status idiot. And I’d like to think I’m well-intentioned. I’m better informed than he is. He is completely incurious about the world. He is living an unexamined life. And that’s fine with him. He’s high status. I really enjoy being low status. I really enjoy playing a weak character. That’s why I really enjoy him is that he is this unbelievably self-important character.

In fact, Jim Fenhagen, who designed the Republican set this year. And he does the Olympics. He’s a huge set designer. And he’s a wonderful guy, an old friend of mine. I said to him — when he was designing my first set, I said, I want your inspiration to be da Vinci’s “Last Supper.” Because if you look at da Vinci’s “Last Supper,” Christ has no halo. Existence, all of creation is his halo. Because there are all these converging lines in the room. And in reality, they converge upon Christ’s head. As the world is God’s foot stool — as it says in Matthew — the world is Christ’s halo. And so I said, I want my whole set to be like a halo around me. So if you looked at my original set, there were these convergent lines that come out of my set. And we painted it on the floor so I am the rising sun. There are no television monitors behind me. I’m not like what Brian Williams’ or even Jon’s set. He’s got television monitors behind him. And he’s conveying the news to you. He is a conduit. I am the news. I am a dawn onto my own day. But that’s the outward status of the character. But his weakness and his incuriousness and his thin skinned quality weakens him in such wonderful ways. And I love that weakness, because I think that’s the reality of me. I think I’m not as well defined as he is. And I enjoy copping to that in my own behavior.

Eric Schmidt: What’s interesting about — I think there is union in your character and you personally — you’re very supportive of the troops. And I remember when you were in Iraq, you got the president to order you to get a haircut.

Stephen Colbert: Yeah.

Eric Schmidt: Pretty serious.

Stephen Colbert: That was fun. Yeah. Sure, yeah. I knew I wanted to have my head shaved, because I thought, oh, that’ll feel good in the room. That’ll feel good with all the troops. And I said, who could shave my head? The general. Well, who’s going to make the general do it? The president. And everybody said yes. It was really lovely.

Eric Schmidt: And I think this work that you’re doing with the troops is fantastic. Was there some reason in growing up or something that you felt that way? Or is it just you’re just a genuine patriot about this stuff?

Stephen Colbert: I don’t know. I’m a genuine patriot. I love my country. And I think patriotism does not require focus on the troops. Do you know what I mean? There are other ways to be patriotic other than association with the military. That being said, I think not enough attention is paid to the men and women who make the sacrifices that we have collectively decided they should make and then ignore.

Eric Schmidt: Yes.

Stephen Colbert: Do you know what I mean?

Eric Schmidt: I agree.

Stephen Colbert: We’re all responsible. We all are sending the troop orders. Do you know what I mean? And we did it without a lot of thought, but with a lot of emotion 10, 11 years ago, and not a lot of discussion. And then we thought our job was done. And so because I talk about it a lot, or used to talk about it more when it was more in the consciousness, especially the news consciousness, because my show is a shadow of the actual news. And I’m, in some ways, very reactive that way. I felt at a certain point that I had a responsibility, along with my responsibility to be funny, to take opportunities that came to me to talk about the troops when I can. I have an 82nd Airborne flag in my office because very early on in the show, a young man and his wife came. And she had to speak for him because he had such bad brain damage. And he still could hear. But he couldn’t really converse. And he enjoyed the show. And he gave me the flag. And all he could really get out was, don’t forget us. Please keep talking about us. So I’ve got it on my wall. And I think about it. And we don’t nearly do enough. And we don’t help as much as we should. But certainly, when you have an opportunity that fits within — I still have the responsibility to do a comedy show. When I can fit those two things together, we’re more than happy to try to make it happen. And as I said, we should do more.

Eric Schmidt: Well, we still have 100,000 troops in Afghanistan.

Stephen Colbert: Right. I mean, we went to Iraq. And I’d love to be able to do something in Afghanistan, too. And sadly, I think I might have the time to.

Eric Schmidt: Yeah. Go head.

Audience: So a few years back, you suffered a terrible work related injury at your wrist. So my question to you is, do you plan to expand to other body parts, like ankles, legs?

Stephen Colbert: Anything that shatters, I will call attention to.

Audience: Thank you.

Stephen Colbert: Anything that happens to me — that’s the nice thing about the character and one of the things that saves me when there’s down time in the news is that anything I think is worth talking about is news. That’s the character, can name it. Anything that happens to me is the most important thing that’s happening right now. And when I broke my wrist, sad to say, the first thing I thought of is content.

Audience: And I have a follow-up question. How is your auditioning of Eric Schmidt going right now? And do you plan on taking Eric on your book tour?

Stephen Colbert: He’s doing very well. He’s doing very well. Do you have an up tempo or a ballad?

Eric Schmidt: Oh, my god.

Stephen Colbert: I really can’t stay. Baby, it’s cold outside.

Eric Schmidt: I learned how to dance with PSY. That was enough.

Stephen Colbert: You did?

Eric Schmidt: Yes.

Stephen Colbert: Wow.

Eric Schmidt: I was really bad.

Stephen Colbert: So is he.

Eric Schmidt: Come on, he is the number one cultural phenomenon, 800,000,000 —

Stephen Colbert: And if it’s popular, it must be good.


Eric Schmidt: Absolutely. Speaking of which, again, many Googlers have been asking questions about your upcoming YouTube show.

Stephen Colbert: Yeah, what is that? I have an upcoming YouTube show?

Eric Schmidt: Yes, we have all decided that you have to have a YouTube show of some kind.

Stephen Colbert: OK. Does that violate my contract with Viacom to have that? Because you guys had a billion dollar lawsuit against each other, you realize. And Sumner Redstone would rather see your head on a stick.

Eric Schmidt: You actually asked us on television to give you the money. You forget.

Stephen Colbert: No, I don’t forget. You never gave it to me.

Eric Schmidt: I know. I know. We discussed —

Stephen Colbert: If you gave the money, I’d be knee deep in hookers and blow, and I’d forget. And I was deposed. I was deposed for that lawsuit.

Eric Schmidt: I know you were.

Stephen Colbert: And I’ve got a good story if you’d stop talking. I’m sorry. What was your question?

Eric Schmidt: Tell your story.

Stephen Colbert: OK. So it’s been a few years. I don’t think I’m violating anything. So I got deposed for the YouTube Google thing, the Viacom thing. Because boy, they were mad at you guys. They were so mad at you guys. And so your all’s lawyer brought me in to say, well, how isn’t YouTube great? And wouldn’t you not have a show if it wasn’t for YouTube? And all those kind of questions. And the lawyer for Google would read me statements that I said on air. And I said, well, I didn’t say that. And he goes, no, you said it. You said it on this broadcast. I said, no, my character said that. And my character’s not under oath right now. And they said, well, if your character were here, what would he say? And so I would say, OK, well, I’ll tell you what. I’ll tell you what. If you ask me questions that my character has to answer as opposed to me, I’ll move my coffee cup to the other side of my place here. And then you’ll know I’m speaking as my character. And so they’d ask me a question. I’d keep my cup over here. And then in the middle of a question, I’d start moving it over to the side. Because I realized they were asking me something for my character. And the person would go, let the record reflect that the coffee cup is now on the left side of Mr. Colbert.

Eric Schmidt: You have a question.

Stephen Colbert: My character’s answer was always like, I don’t know what you’re talking about, buddy.

Eric Schmidt: Yes, ma’am?

Audience: I was just wondering if you have anything left on your career wish list?

Stephen Colbert: Sure. I just don’t know. I never know what’s going to happen even tomorrow. I just got to spend the week with some of my favorite creative artists with “The Hobbit.” It was unbelievable. Weta Workshop made me my own hobbit feet. Next week, I get to sing with all these wonderful artists doing Christmas carols. I’ve done my own Christmas special. I’ve had a rally on the mall. I’ve testified before Congress. I may or may not appear in “The Hobbit.” The nice thing about my show — and whether or not I do show forever — I mean, everything ends. But whether or not I do the show forever, the nice thing about my show is that as the host and executive producer, I get to ask of myself anything I want to try. But that also means, I have to do everything I know. And so it’s just this tremendous sort of refreshing gift, as tiring as the show is, because I am kind of decaying before your eyes.

In the same the way, it’s also rejuvenating. Because the show is only what I want it to be. I can always say no to myself or ask myself something new. But beyond this, I just want to work with people I like. I love the people I work with. I love what we do. And I just want to be able to do it with joy. And the moment I can’t do that, I have got to stop and try to do something else.

Audience: There are times when you’ve taken your persona outside of the show itself, like when you ran for president or started your Super PAC. And I was curious, how did you get the idea to do that? Or why did you decide to start taking the character outside of the show itself?

Stephen Colbert: Well, he thinks he belongs everywhere. You know what I mean? He thinks he belongs everywhere.

Audience: So did he make the decision, or did you?

Stephen Colbert: You know what?

Eric Schmidt: That sounds like one of those Google —

Stephen Colbert: My ego is just big enough that I’d like to think I’m in the driver’s seat. But I’m not entirely sure.

Eric Schmidt: That sounds like one of those Google lawyer questions. Are you a Google lawyer?

Audience: No, I’m an engineer.

Eric Schmidt: Ah, even worse. Very precise.

Stephen Colbert: I like putting him in situations. Because he thinks he belongs everywhere, anywhere he goes, as long as we can prepare for the situation, I rarely take him. I do talk shows, like right now. Or if I go on Dave, or I do any news talk shows or anything like that, or even the book tour, any place I would do it, I’m only myself. I could lapse into him or the way he might behave at times. But out of context, he clangs against the world. And I have to be prepared for that clang. And so I’m very prepared for the correspondents’ dinner. We’re very prepared for the rally in the mall. I’m very prepared to go to Iraq. I’m very prepared to testify before Congress. I’m very prepared to give a testimony any place, appear before the FEC, or give a speech to supporters on the streets of Washington, DC. There’s a lot of preparation that goes into that.

And I like it because I like changing the context of a space. I like changing the context of a supposedly not performance space into a performance space and to see — well, here’s what I like to do. I like to think of the character as a pebble that I can throw into the news and then report on my own ripples. And I’ve said this before, but Jon Stewart has characterized what he does as sitting at the back of America’s classroom and shooting spit balls. I am the spit ball. And I like to shoot myself into it and see what it looks like when I’m in a news story. For instance, appointed Senator of South Carolina. That’s interesting. I didn’t intend that. Usually the best ones, I didn’t actuate, I didn’t push. They were invitations. I didn’t say, I want to testify before Congress. They asked me. And I said, you know this is going to be a terrible idea? And they said, we want you to come anyway. And I said, all right.

In the same way, yesterday I was just walking around, nothing happening. And suddenly, there was a horse underneath me. And it was me being Senator from South Carolina. I thought, how delightful. How delightful that we’ve planted all these seeds of political activism in my home state. And it is a reasonable, ridiculous thing to surmise that I might get the job. But when you put yourself in the story, and I put this character, this very false character into a story, anything that looks like me in that story is probably bullshit. And that’s a specific way of doing satire. It’s satire by comparison, rather than satire by deconstruction, if you can understand the difference there. I’m falsely constructing the satire as opposed to deconstructing other people’s behavior.

Eric Schmidt: Two more questions. I have a question.

Stephen Colbert: I’ve really enjoyed this, before we get to this. This has been lovely.

Eric Schmidt: You haven’t heard the last two questions. OK. Now, I’m concerned about end of year timing.

Stephen Colbert: End of year timing?

Eric Schmidt: End of year timing. Because this week is the week we need to buy this book, en masse, globally, everyone.

Stephen Colbert: Yeah. This is the first week that you need to.

Eric Schmidt: The first week?

Stephen Colbert: Yeah.

Eric Schmidt: OK. Then we have December 21, which is the end of the world, which is the Mayan calendar date.

Stephen Colbert: Yeah. Do we know how that’s happening?

Eric Schmidt: You’ll have to do some research on Google on this. And perhaps we could look it up while we’re chatting. And then we have the fiscal cliff, which Washington is obsessed about. So do you have any comments on the fiscal cliff and its timing after your book and after the Mayan end?

Stephen Colbert: I’d rather the world come to an end than talk about marginal tax rates. We’ve got a pretty darn good fiscal cliff script. At first time when it came back from Thanksgiving was the first show, I think that first show after Thanksgiving was the first show that I thought, oh, this is the first show after the election. Because after the election, after Thanksgiving, you’re just sweeping up shrapnel from the election, emotional and political shrapnel from it. And then the first show back, we knew the fiscal cliff was a big thing. We did a piece. It was a perfectly fine, first act piece. We had a guest. We had Reihan Salam on the show to talk about Republicans capitulating taxes. And right after that, we wrote another really nice fiscal cliff piece that I keep waiting to be out of date. But the ball just won’t move that much. I mean, Obama can submit his thing. The Republicans can submit their thing. But the story is still the same. The story’s about, you go first. You go first.

Eric Schmidt: One side could try to hide from the other.

Stephen Colbert: What’d you say?

Eric Schmidt: One side could try to hide from the other.

Stephen Colbert: Then someone has to yell, olly olly oxen free? Yes?

Eric Schmidt: That’s right.

Stephen Colbert: I’m actually so avoiding talking about the fiscal cliff that I actually did a week on “The Hobbit.”

Eric Schmidt: We’ll have you have the honor of the last question.

Audience: Do you need a writer in that case? I guess that’s what I should ask? Why did comedy become your thing, do you think? Or did comedy pick you?

Stephen Colbert: Well, that’s a nice way of putting it. That’s a nice way of putting it. I would say, I can’t under emphasize how important comedy’s been to my life and how important certain opportunities that came along to my life. And many of them seem accidental. For instance, Second City. I didn’t think I was going to be comedian. I had a secret desire as a high schooler to be a comedian. I didn’t know what that meant. I just really liked being funny. I’m from one of 11 kids. And we’re a funny family. And being funny is important. The king of the room was whoever was funniest. And I remember as a child, seeing comedy helped. My family had a tragedy when I was younger. My father and two of my brothers died.

Eric Schmidt: Oh, I’m sorry.

Stephen Colbert: And I remember my sister making another one of my sisters laugh so hard in the car away from the cemetery. One of my sisters made the other sisters laugh so hard that she fell on the floor of the limo, one of those big floors, with the rumble seat facing each other. And she fell on the floor laughing. And I remember thinking, I want to do that. I don’t know whether it was specifically in the context of dealing with tragedy, because I was only 10. But I remember specifically thinking, I want that. I’d love to have been able to do that right now. And then I fell asleep every night for years listening to Bill Cosby, “Wonderfulness,” “Very Funny Fellow,” David Frye, “Richard Nixon, A Fantasy,” George Carlin, “Class Clown,” “Let’s Get Small,” “Wild and Crazy Guy.”

Back when you could stack albums, stack so many of them, the top one kind of played slow as it went around. And then I went to college to be an actor, but an actor actor. I wore black, and I had a beard. And I was like, let me share my misery with you. Poet slash jerk kind of actor. And then I accidentally met some people from Second City and took some classes there and got invited to audition and accidentally — just sort of the happy accident — fell in with some great people. And I quit Second City four times in order to go do straight, black box avant-garde kind of theater in Chicago. That’s what I was going to be. I was going to live in a studio apartment with no furniture and a futon on the floor that I stuffed myself with yak fur. And just single and with a beard and sandals and a tashiki. And I was going to drink from a samovar that was constantly bubbling in the background.

But then one day, I was backstage. I kept on returning to doing comedy. And I was backstage one night. And this is really the thing that made the decision for me. I was backstage with a guy named Dave Razowsky, who does a — what’s it called? A blog? Audio? Does a podcast. He does a great podcast. Yeah. What do you kids do? Your podcasts? He’s a great guy. We’re backstage. Somebody was on stage. And they were supposed to do a very simple blackout. And a blackout is a very short — it’s got one joke. And then the lights go out. This is at Second City. It’s a pace keeper for the show. She goes out there. And the blackout is this. You’re supposed to say, I’d like to do a song for you now. Welcome to the No Exit Cafe. I’d like to do a song for you right now, a song for the whales. And then you tune up your guitar for a long time. This is a song for the whales. And then you go — it’s very simple. You do whistle and clicks and everything. It’s fine. Not a great laugh, but it works every time.

She goes out there to do it. I’d like to do a song for you right now. I’d like to do a song for you right now. She goes into her whistling and her clicking. We’re backstage waiting to go on for the next scene, me and Dave. And we said, it’s not getting any laughs. This is foolproof. No laughs at all. What’s going on? Something’s wrong.

And then she goes, oh, I forgot. It’s song for whales. And we burst into laughter backstage. And we threw our arms around each other in the agony of her failure. And we’re just laughing. We fell like a collapsing tee-pee. We just fell to the ground. And Dave’s feet went out onto stage, like this, as we held each other like lovers. The most intimate, joyful experience at her pain that we all knew. And she could hear it happening. And the audience could see our feet. And she started laughing at how wonderfully she had just failed. And I thought at that moment, this is what I want. If failure of this scale can cause this much joy for anyone, then this is the healthiest thing that I could do with the rest of my life. And I will do nothing else. And I’ve never looked back from that moment.

Eric Schmidt: So Stephen, I think what you see is that it really takes a brilliant man to produce this character. And what I like about this is we get a sense of who you really are. And we get some extra special, too.

Stephen Colbert: Well, it was nice of you to say.

Eric Schmidt: And thank you very much for coming to Google. Now, we’ve got 30,000, 40,000 employees.

Stephen Colbert: So I should sign all of them.

Eric Schmidt: Let’s just review what they have to do. This book needs to be the number one best seller this week?

Stephen Colbert: Yes.

Eric Schmidt: And every week thereafter?

Stephen Colbert: Well, one week will do. And we’ll see what happens.

Eric Schmidt: Until my book comes out, anyway. Right? So our instructions are —

Stephen Colbert: Go get the book.

Eric Schmidt: Buy the book.

Stephen Colbert: Don’t even read it. That doesn’t matter to me. I just have to leapfrog one of O’Reilly’s best sellers.

Eric Schmidt: I actually read it. And it’s phenomenal.

Stephen Colbert: You are so perceptive. There’s a reason why you are who you are.

Eric Schmidt: I didn’t quite get the 3D glasses thing. And so I didn’t put them on right. But aside from that, it’s a great book.

Stephen Colbert: You didn’t put 3D glasses on right?

Eric Schmidt: No, I didn’t.

Stephen Colbert: You could run Google, but you don’t understand 3D glasses technology?

Eric Schmidt: We have much better glasses technology at Google.

Stephen Colbert: I understand.

Eric Schmidt: Stephen Colbert, thank you very much.

Stephen Colbert: Thank you. Thank you.



By Pangambam S

I have been a Transcriber and Editor in the transcription industry for the past 15 years. Now I transcribe and edit at If you have any questions or suggestions, please do let me know. And please do share this post if you liked it and help you in any way.