Stephen Colbert (yes, that's his real name I think) is a comedian and writer who is best known for being part of the "news" team on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
. He's from Charleston, South Carolina, and is an alumnus of the famed Second City and Annoyance Theatre in Chicago, Illinois
(where numerous other comic celebrities also got their start). Colbert went to high school at Porter Gaud High School, and graduated from Northwestern University
While he's not the anchor for the Daily Show (though I believe he held the position for one episode), he usually appears in news segments, where he functions as "a very well-intentioned poorly informed person" and a "high-status idiot" as he once described his character. Imagine a mix of Geraldo and Stone Phillips, who interviews people by asking bizarre questions in a deadpan manner, or as an analyst; either in the studio next to Jon or live via "satellite" which is just a bluescreen behind him. Whenever he is "live on location," they usually give him a long title, like 'senior subterranean geologist' or something along the lines of what he is reporting on. During the Michael Jackson trial, he appeared as the "Senior Child Molestation expert," and complained that he couldn't put that on his business cards. In case it doesn't dawn on anyone after the first few appearances, he is not "on location" and is probably in the next room. I don't know if the "real news" does that either, but Colbert and the crew take it to such extremes that make it funny. For example, once they did a "live" segment where Stephen was in Washington via satellite, and Jon started laughing because it was light out where Stephen was at 11pm. Then there're the occasional time they continually change the background, like when Colbert was covering the G-8 summit and got moved from Savannah, GA to St. Louis, MO in about 3 seconds during a cut to Stewart. As an example of how ludicrous it all is, in one episode, Colbert was live 'from Mars.' He'd wait 20 seconds before responding to Stewart "because of the transmission delay."
Colbert is so hilarious partly because he's so serious and deadpan. He could be describing pornography and the British royal family and manage to keep a straight face (as he once did). He also likes to drop some random nugget into his talks, like once he admitted on the show that his real name is Ted Hitler, he once killed a panda, and his father was a poor turd farmer.
Colbert also does other segments on the show, he used to have a back and forth issues debate with Steve Carrell, known as "Even Stephens." Both sides would try to make their points, but then devolve into insults, retorts, and ad homenim attacks. When Steve Carrell left full time, Stephen Colbert started a new segment called "This Week in God" where he recaps the week's religious news, often mixing in lots of parody with real and unusual news. It's somewhat sacrilegious, so while I admit to laughing hysterically, it often makes me wince as well.
Stephen Colbert is also writer on the show, and also helped write "America: the Book. A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction." In the book, he weighs his own commentary, like former President Warren G. Harding was a douche. In the audiobook, he does a variety of characters starting from a puritan who burned women at the stake for hiccups, onwards.
Aside from writing and appearing on the Daily Show, Stephen Colbert is also known for a slew of other shows. He was on The Dana Carvey Show and Exit 57, and Let it Snow (an Indie film), and appears in the 2005 version of Bewitched. He played the teacher Mr. Noblet on Strangers With Candy, who was a closeted homosexual who was having an affair with the art teacher and had issues with being the one with authority. He currently does the voices for the characters Reducto and Phil Ken Sebben (the Ha ha! guy) in the cartoon Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law. He also played the voice of "Ace" on Saturday Night Live's "The Ambiguously Gay Duo" cartoon series.
Back in 2005 he and staff from The Daily Show created a spinoff to follow TDS on Comedy Central, called "The Colbert Réport" (pronounced with a sort of French accent; the ColBEAR Report). It was originally pitched as a parody of the O'Reilly Factor, Scarborough Country, Hardball with Chris Matthews, etc. The difference is that Colbert was going to be megalomaniacal and dominating. More like the "No Fact zone" than the No Spin Zone. Initially, because some executives (and me) worried how the show would perform (and what will happen to the Daily Show if my favorite newsman left), Stewart will often do a live video link at the end of the show to Colbert and ask him what's coming up after the commercial break; this is known as a "throw" in newsroom lingo.
Colbert was also banned from Wikipedia for changing his bio on his show and making up things about Elephants, and telling his viewers to go in and do the same on the webpage. Numerous cases of editing vandalism occurred due to Colbert's orders, including vandalizing the article on "reality."
A sample Even Stephens transcript: http://anitasdailyshowpage.tripod.com/transcripts/2000brapanties.htm
Sample live-via-satellite episode (The infamous banana incident): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0M6VTB0_5-8
For more videos, see http://youtube.com/results?search_query=colbert&search=Search
The official Daily show site with clips: http://www.comedycentral.com/shows/the_daily_show/index.jhtml
Archive of clips: http://www.onlisareinsradar.com/archives/daily_show_comedy_clips/index.php
Daily show quotes: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0115147/quotes
Thanks to chaotic_poet for telling me where he grew up, the same hometown.