Lori Lipman Brown on Colbert

You can watch it here. She did as well as she could, but whoa…this is a perfect example of how Stephen Colbert will tromp all over an interview for comic effect.


  1. #1 schism
    August 30, 2008

    A comedian prioritizing comic effect over thoroughness for a five-minute interview? Gee.

  2. #2 Benjamin Franklin
    August 30, 2008

    “So help me Harold and Kumar!”

  3. #3 LisaJ
    August 30, 2008

    Oh, silly links only working in the USA.

  4. #4 singh away
    August 30, 2008

    Well, it is a comedy show… 😉

  5. #5 Geoff
    August 30, 2008

    Is there a non American version of this clip?

  6. #6 Cathy
    August 30, 2008

    You can probably find the interview at Comedy Central. Click Colbert Report, go to the show date (Aug. 29), and find the segment. Or you could possibly use “Search” for her name or for “better know a lobbyist.”

    I’m not going to send the URL, because (at least in the past) people in some countries can’t watch shows from the Comedy Central site…But if you want to see it, you could certainly try the site.

  7. #7 SC
    August 30, 2008

    About what I would expect. At least the story made it to the show.

    A friend of a friend works (or worked – not sure) on the show, and said Colbert’s very Catholic. He makes fun of it on the program, but it’s also clear that that’s his religious background. I haven’t read his books, and so don’t know if it comes up there at all. Does anyone know where he stands on religious issues?

  8. #8 RM
    August 30, 2008

    SC, I know he graduated from Porter Gaud, an Episcopal school in Charleston, SC.

  9. #9 Michael
    August 30, 2008

    Given that they had much more material its probably a matter of editing.

  10. #10 Dave B.
    August 30, 2008

    Nothing’s sacred when you’re ripping out pages from Dawkins and nailing them to a cracker, but you get upset over Stephen Colbert doing a mocking interview of an athiest figurehead?

  11. #11 Sioux Laris
    August 30, 2008

    Hey, Dave B.! (#10) Yeah, you, ya puke!

    Next time stop at “nothing’s sacred.”

  12. #12 Steve
    August 30, 2008

    I dont’ thinking the mocking was a problem, that’s Colbert’s schtick. No problem. But personally, I was disappointed because I was genuinely interested in what she had to say, and she just didn’t get to say very much.

  13. #13 Pjotr
    August 30, 2008

    I think he’s Catholic in the same way that Jon Stewart is Jewish. It’s a family tradition. I think his “This week in God” feature showed pretty clearly where he stands on religious nonsense, those jokes I’d say were not written by a theist.

    And I agree with what others have posted: it’s a comedy show, and the entire concept of it involves him staying in character.

  14. #14 Dutch Delight
    August 30, 2008

    It’s on the Comedy central site, starts right after the first break around 7 minutes into the show.

    I got the feeling Colbert had some axe to grind here, Lori was more of a stage prop then a guest. Not sure if there was much she could do.

  15. #16 Brian's A Wild Downer
    August 30, 2008

    I like his show but find the interviews unbearable.

  16. #17 Terry
    August 30, 2008

    Just a side note… I think one of Colbert’s greatest comedic talents is his ability to keep a straight face during his schtick.

  17. #18 Ryan F
    August 30, 2008

    People need to relax a bit. It’s on comedy central and it’s stephen colbert; did you really expect to be learning much about the secular cause? If you’ve ever seen him interview anyone, you know its much less about the interviewee than it is about him (just like Papa Bear O’Reilly).

    And Colbert is quite involved with his Catholicism. He teaches Sunday school and openly professes his faith. He’s still damn funny.

  18. #19 Blake Stacey
    August 30, 2008

    I’m two degrees of separation from Stephen Colbert. Small world.

  19. #20 Kel
    August 30, 2008

    “What do atheists yell during sex?… Oh Science!”

    I’m so using that.

  20. #21 Anne
    August 30, 2008

    Thanks for your interest in Lori Lipman Brown’s appearance on Colbert. Let me respond to a couple of comments.
    Everyone who watches Colbert knows that “Stephen’s character” (as his producers call him) is meant to satire Bill O’Reilly and his ilk. In that spirit, guests are invited on and used as vehicles for the host’s agenda – and comedy. No interview is straight forward.
    Lori well knew this going in. She’s a fan of the show and played along expertly and heroically during a grueling two-hour (!) interview which was, in the end, edited down to just a few minutes.
    But over at the Secular Coalition, we were delighted with the way Colbert set the interview up and cited our work on the Democratic convention’s religious emphasis – a bonus in addition to being featured in his ‘Better Know a Lobby’ series.
    Those of you who want to learn more can go to the Coalition’s website,
    We’ve also launched a new election year site, and a Secular Values Voter shop,, where you can pick up some secular citizen swag just in time for the fall campaigns here in the US!
    Anne Singer
    Communications Director, Secular Coalition for America

  21. #22 Kel
    August 30, 2008

    L: “Christmas is a secular holiday. It’s an official federal holiday, that makes it secular and everyone can enjoy it”
    C: “You’ve got it backwards. It means the government is now religious”

    I’ve just stopped laughing from that line. So funny!

  22. #23 SC
    August 30, 2008

    “What do atheists yell during sex?… Oh Science!”

    I’m so using that.

    I agree. Best part.

  23. #24 Mena
    August 30, 2008

    but you get upset over Stephen Colbert doing a mocking interview of an athiest figurehead
    True but imagine what would have happened if he mocked an atheist figurehead!

  24. #25 Geoff
    August 30, 2008

    I hate to reverse the usual comments about access outside Europe. I can’t access this because I’m outside the USA.

  25. #26 Sara M.
    August 30, 2008

    I don’t get what everyone’s complaining about. This is exactly what I’d expect from a Colbert interview on any subject. It cracked me up, and I felt it gave the appropriate information to find out more to anyone who might be interested.

    Only part I could have done with out was the bit about the list of atheist artists she didn’t have memorized.

  26. #27 G.L.
    August 30, 2008

    I realize that the interview lasted 2 hours and was then edited down to 2 minutes, but I think she could’ve done a better job. Her saying that a lot of painters were atheist, and then not being able to name a single one (“I have a list in my office”) was a bit shocking. That, and she ended up playing Colbert’s game by trying to outwit him (which is pretty much impossible). She ended up discussing hermaphrodites, for Darwin’s sake! 🙁

    I say she seems like a nice person, but they should probably look into hiring someone who is a bit better on their feet and under pressure…

  27. #28 randy
    August 30, 2008

    I think she should have played along more. I mean, at least sing along (maybe make up words).

    But man, who wants to be an athiest if you are all that stiff. at least theists have a good (fraudian slip I initially typed god) sense of imagination.

  28. #29 bigjohn756
    August 30, 2008

    Well, I like Colbert most of the time, but, I didn’t like that episode. He is not usually so heavy handed. The guy lost a lot of my respect with that overbearing performance. It wasn’t funny at all.

  29. #30 Jim Lippard
    August 30, 2008

    Colbert is indeed Catholic and teaches Sunday School.

  30. #31 SC
    August 31, 2008

    Colbert is indeed Catholic and teaches Sunday School.

    It’s just so very strange.

  31. #32 Doug M
    August 31, 2008

    For those outside of the United States, you can try this link at Spike: (It works here in Canada.)

    Normally CTV has episodes the next day, but for some reason it’s not on there. Probably because it was a special Friday episode and they don’t have their usual staff on Saturdays.

  32. #33 MPhil
    August 31, 2008

    If you’re interested in Colbert’s attitude towards religion, the most interesting article I could find is this one (footnote 66 -I think- on the wiki-article about him):

    Stephen Colbert|PARADE Magazine

  33. #34 MPhil
    August 31, 2008

    Oh, and lest I forget – this gem:

    TONY: You created The Daily Show religious-satire segment, “This Week in God.” How do you square your Catholicism with comedy?

    SC: I love my Church, and I’m a Catholic who was raised by intellectuals, who were very devout. I was raised to believe that you could question the Church and still be a Catholic. What is worthy of satire is the misuse of religion for destructive or political gains. That’s totally different from the Word, the blood, the body and the Christ. His kingdom is not of this earth.

    (from a “Time Out New York” 2005 interview)

    He’s not incapable of reason as we know – and evidently once even had “lost his faith” – we should send him J.L. Mackie’s “The Miracle of Theism”… :/

  34. #35 CanadianChick
    August 31, 2008

    I thought it was hilarious – and very typical Colbert stuff.

    Gotta remember – without that interview, a LOT of people would NEVER have heard of the Secular Coalition. Colbert may be a Catholic, but he’s definitely a champion of the separation between church and state – you can tell from the type of interviews he sets up and how he does them.

    I thought she held herself well, and given how he COULD have edited it, I think it came out overwhelmingly positive.

  35. #36 Steve
    August 31, 2008

    Kudos to Colbert for doing the interview. It’s the best thing that could have happened to the SCA. No other major TV person would go anywhere near them.
    You guys, PZ included, should stop cribbing about his editing the interview. That’s what he does every time….and he admits it. It’s done for comedy(like Bill Maher) and not to deceive( like Expelled).
    I think LLB came off very well and much better than any of the fundies that have been on the show.

  36. #37 tacitus
    August 31, 2008

    I agree with those who say it was just Colbert being Colbert. I don’t think he came over as being heavy-handed at all — certainly no more so than in his other taped interviews. His studio interviews do tend to be less contentious because he’s not taping two hours and cutting it to three minutes.

    Remember famously he once got Congressman Wexler to say “I enjoy cocaine because it’s a fun thing to do.” on camera.

    Lori was a good sport and the piece got a few good laughs. The whole point of the piece was to lampoon the way Lori would really have been treated by that asshat O’Reilly.

  37. #38 Amanda
    August 31, 2008

    I was talking to Michael Shermer the other week when he was out here in Australia, and he was talking about his appearance on Colbert. He said Colbert himself (I think-maybe a producer) came to chat to him before the show, made sure he understood the character and the schtick, told him he would be talking over him and to push right back. I guess its hard to do on the spot though.

  38. #39 mattand
    August 31, 2008

    To PZ and everyone else who was put off by Colbert’s interview:

    Are you fucking kidding me?

    It’s a comedy show on a channel called “Comedy Central” in which the star (a Second City alum) parodies right wing personalities in general, and Bill O’Reilly in particular. What the hell were you expecting?

    Of course Colbert is going tromp all over her. He does the same thing to everyone else he interviews on the show. That’s the point of the character. He’s an equal opportunity offender in every sense of the word.

    I’m an atheist. It was a funny interview. Lighten up a bit, for the love of Science.

    Matt A

  39. #40 PZ Myers
    August 31, 2008

    Please, everyone who is complaining, read it again. I said he tromped all over the interview for comic effect. He did. I did not say it wasn’t funny. I said he accomplished a comic effect.


  40. #41 mattand
    August 31, 2008

    I read it three times before posting. For me, the “but, whoa” comes off as disapproving. My mistake if that’s not what you meant.

    Just out of curiosity, did you find the interview funny?

    Matt A

  41. #42 Naked Bunny with a Whip
    August 31, 2008

    “This week in God” … jokes I’d say were not written by a theist.

    Oh, not necessarily. Just being a theist doesn’t automatically make you a humorless prick.

  42. #43 Midnight Rambler
    August 31, 2008

    For those outside of the United States, you can try this link at Spike:

    I think that’s only for Canada. Anyone know of a web streamer that works in Europe (specifically Ireland/UK)? I’ve been suffering from serious Daily Show/Colbert Report deprivation since moving here.

  43. #44 Madhu
    August 31, 2008

    For those of you who aren’t able to see the interview, I’ve got it embedded over on my blog. And why can’t we atheists lighten up, and laugh at our own discomfiture? Admit it – Colbert is very good at what he does, this interview is damn funny, but his secularism should not be in any less doubt than his Catholicism as far as I can tell.

  44. #45 Robert
    August 31, 2008

    Colbert is a very clever and articulate fellow who pokes fun at everyone and everything, or at least tries to. His shtick is to get laughs by using satire and sarcasm and to find weak points in the positions taken by those whom he interviews. Based on the parts of the interview which were shown, Ms. Brown is not up to being an effective foil for his verbal thrusts. I would not be either. However, given her position as an authority figure and spokesperson for secularists, I found her performance to be disappointing. She seemed to be ill-prepared for his antics. Perhaps no amount of preparation would have made a difference. Her response — “I have a list in my office” — really sums up her weaknesses in this situation. She seemed to be surprised that Colbert did not have kid gloves on. I have seen interviews where Colbert has met his match. This was obviously not one of those.

  45. #46 Rob J
    September 1, 2008

    I thought it was hilarious. The “pole and a hole” comment had me cracking up.

    Don’t take it too seriously. It bothers me that theists seem to believe they should be untouched by parody and criticism, and they love to get offended when they are. It was funny, laugh at it and move on.

  46. #47 Good Stuff
    September 1, 2008

    Well I did want to hear more of what Brown might actually say, so I was a bit disappointed on that count. And not ALL Colbert interviews are so dominated by Colbert’s character. But count me in as one of those who thought it was very funny, and was glad Colbert was even giving the interview.

  47. #48 Kel
    September 1, 2008

    I was talking to Michael Shermer the other week when he was out here in Australia, and he was talking about his appearance on Colbert.

    Was that on Saturday night after the debate?

  48. #49 Chedstone
    September 1, 2008

    Yea, I usually find his guests impressive, and his questions not. That’s why Jon Stewart is a great alternative for real hard hitting questions.

  49. #50 Wounded King
    September 1, 2008

    @ #23

    “What do atheists yell during sex?… Oh Science!”

    I’m so using that.

    I agree. Best part.

    So the best part was a joke Bill Hicks was doing 15 years ago? That seems a bit sad really.

  50. #51 TimG
    September 2, 2008

    A great collection of 8 video clips of Steven Colbert and assorted atheist themes just surfaced on digg. Catch it on – unfortunately I believe that it only works in the USA.

  51. #52 Jason Stokes
    September 3, 2008

    A friend of a friend works (or worked – not sure) on the show, and said Colbert’s very Catholic. He makes fun of it on the program, but it’s also clear that that’s his religious background. I haven’t read his books, and so don’t know if it comes up there at all. Does anyone know where he stands on religious issues?

    I can’t speak to his personal views, but when he was on the Daily Show Stephen Colbert presented the segment ‘This week in God’, which was probably the most blasphemous four minutes you could possiblyy see on American TV.

    And you shouldn’t sweat the Lori Lipmann interview. She acquitted herself pretty well, didn’t come off like an imbecile or a nutcase, and if Colbert was using her for comic effect, well, she handled it with good humour. Believe me, if you do that with Steven Colbert, you win the audience’s respect.

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