Stephen Colbert: “America Again: Re-Becoming the Greatness We Never Weren’t” | Talks at Google

Stephen Colbert: “America Again: Re-Becoming the Greatness We Never Weren’t” | Talks at Google

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– [LAUGHS] ERIC SCHMIDT: 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? Hmm. 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.” “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. All right. STEPHEN COLBERT: Those of you
who are not familiar with Saint 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 was 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. ERIC SCHMIDT: Yes. 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
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. ERIC SCHMIDT: Excellent. STEPHEN COLBERT: 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
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,
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? [THUD] [LAUGHTER] 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– [BEEPING] STEPHEN COLBERT: 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. 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
they knife them? And the press too. And the press too, of course. Because people forget that
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 weeks. 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, (ALGERIAN
ACCENT) 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. [APPLAUSE] 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. [APPLAUSE] ERIC SCHMIDT: 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 upgrades your citizenship
in the United States. It get 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 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. 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 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. AUDIENCE: Yes. Thanks. 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 [INAUDIBLE]. 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. AUDIENCE: Cool. Thanks. 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. 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. I don’t know. Yeah. ERIC SCHMIDT: OK. STEPHEN COLBERT: Yeah. 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
Google 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 and 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. 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 year’s 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 further 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: [SINGING] I really can’t stay. Baby, it’s cold outside. Go ahead. Hit it. 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. 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
books 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
planned 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. 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. 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, up
to 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: Uh-oh. 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,
[MAKES WHALE SOUNDS]. 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. [APPLAUSE] 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.

100 thoughts on “Stephen Colbert: “America Again: Re-Becoming the Greatness We Never Weren’t” | Talks at Google

  1. Google, Gods, God Of Christians, God of Muslim, God of Sun or God of Water…God of living Beings…God of Unlivings… God of Righteousness…God of liars…God of Innocent…
    God of arrogant….all Gods Are existed in the all different human beings‘ s Souls, Spirit, And Mind.

    Google has EYES of G👀D GREAT PEOPLE to find GOOD people and HOMEs of friends, but sadly bad people use it to target to KILL HUMANS.
    That’s why there is FACEBOOK to show REAL face of GOOD people or good LOOKING people.

  2. My favorite quote from Stephen Colbert is when he said, "Mr. Trump, to answer your call for political honesty, you're not going to be president." How wrong you were, Stephen. And how very wrong you are.

  3. never were not : > double ney means yay

    why always complicate simple matters and spirits ^.^

    love you Stephen #FullHomoSapiens

  4. It's 2018; Donald Trump is president — ugh! !!! and Stephen has taken over The Late Show — applause! !!

  5. Here's a short story I wrote.

  6. "All we had before the merge took place. And to this day I do not regret this moment, this moment that my son smiled and was happy. A moment that will be all too shortly remembered."

  7. I'm amazed to see a title like this in the english language.
    Actually it translates into German perfectly and it's not confusing at all, it's pretty accurate, even in the grammar. But we usually translate it ("niemals nicht") different for you, because of the confusion and we will build such sentences different f.e. with "never ever" or around phrases like this.
    Therefore, I'm a fan of the title!

  8. Stephen Colbert is a legend. The interviewer sucks so much balls and must have cancer or something because where the fudge is the energy? Or is he just that jaded?

  9. only neutered males can cross their legs like that. Noam chomsky does it too. what is the hidden meaning of this? i can't do it without hurting my balls and i have average or below sized genitals! they have to be neutered!! or they love pain

  10. Damn it! I haven't thought of the game for so long. Shit, I just lost I was doing so well. Thanks Stephen from almost a decade ago, thanks…

  11. Dear YouTube PMs & Engineers, May I suggest a simple feature? Add a comment filter option to only show comments before 2016.

  12. Colbert is pretty smart. I'm impressed, I have not spend much time listening to him and just saw bits of his show previously. He is too smart to appeal to the ones who really need to understand the zen comedy that he creates, the ones who need it … namely Republicans. They are not able to think so hard or to keep contradictory ideas in their heads.

  13. "The Greatness We Never Weren't." So Colbert admits we were always great. Awesome. Either that or he failed to learn about double negatives…his entire life.

  14. English is my second language, and immediatly thought "Re-Becomming the greatness we never weren't" was something like "re-gaining strength we've never lost" it's at best a critisism on Trumps campain slogan "Make America Great Again" which insinuated that America had lost it's greatness, it really hadn't, but in the 2 years of Trump, it actually has lost Greatness.

  15. Comfort + nervous = awesome. I can't tell where character Colbert and real Colbert ends…. that makes this wonderfully genuine. Nice!


  17. Nothing will do any good but free press unbias unopionated facted checked news trump would never of happened and not going to help without free press idiots give rights away don't even know why they rights unbelievable

  18. globalasm sucks to fast and it destroys ones life because its to fast of a sucking out of standards long established that made life actually tolerable before. now the way life is its not worth living. i would rather be dead then live like this with everything stolen from me.

  19. its not worth it to be corrupted. i can take on all of you idiots because i have a series of trillion dollar plus solutions that i can bust out at any time i want to. im the only man on earth who can pull it off legitimately

  20. Little did he know…

    I'd LOVE to interview Stephen about this interview today!

    (Subtle nod to Dustin Hoffman)
    The first person to name the movie gets a noddy badge 😉

  21. "My father and two of my brothers died" said in passing?? WHAT THE ACTUAL???
    Maybe I'm just too young to understand how someone can talk about that in such a blasé fashion…???
    I just can't comprehend…
    My father passing away was THE MOST harrowing experience of my life. I'm not sure I'll ever recover from that…

  22. google… stop goofing off and go fix your shit! You have so much work to do and your here goofing off…. get to work and fix your AI…

  23. Pretty foolish philosophy. The average American definitely wants (and has wanted) change for a long time. They thought Trump could help them. That is why he is president.

    This seems to be more about stroking your own ego than it does being in touch with the average American in a capitalist society.

    Trumps campaign line was in fact true. It's just he is the complete opposite of what he is saying. He doesn't offer the average American hope and change. He just said that to win the election because he knew that is what they wanted.

    The average American has been struggling for a long time.

  24. No there are no gods
    Just your overactive imagination
    Until u can prove there's a god/gods forgive me for taking the null hypothesis & say u haven't proven anything more than u have an unsupported belief. Congrats

  25. Perdón pero YO CON EL PODER DE JEHOVÁ les pido qué respecto sí que te amas y Tal ves ames a tú mamá LO TESTIFICÓ CON EL PODER DE JEHOVÁ AMEN

  26. Perdón hablas de años atrás pero YO le soy GRACIAS a mí padre celestial Jehová y Jesucristo que mando unos misioneros 2016 así FUE todo cambio mí vida por éso VIVO en el mundo pero no soy del mundo lo testificó con el poder Jehová y Jesucristo Amén

  27. Making America Great Again…..what it means to me is when people used to put their name on a product because they were proud of it and it lasted.

    my parents have items that were from the 40 50 60 and there still in great shape and work. unlike now a days where you brake something befor you even get it home

  28. Dang .. 7 years ago!!! (YES!! I bought the book). I LOOOOVE Stephen Colbert 😍❤💛💚💙💜💋💋💋 He's sexy to me because of his intellect and humor. Who's with me?? A person who can hold an intelligent conversation and also have fun with it … to be funny at the same time?? Makes my toes tingle 😉😀

  29. Colbert is an ass who has no talent and no intelligence. If he ever had to do anything to EARN a living he'd starve.

  30. I can Sees thru Internet wall, Sirens sounder red alert, as Anonymous Michael Jones, Google Eric Schmidt, & CBS Stephen Colbert count their money & shut up decentors of their virtual prison. Stephen forced my hands 2 buy his book, #7 on New York Times, with fake news on his RCA Bipolar, & fake Cancer referrals.

    Real, respectable, & angry, retired military personal shake their arms @ Nine impersonators, imposters, who impose their Christian fundamentalist radical belief, incentivized manufactured crisis, & pose as soldiers, veteran Doctors,, fake nurse, cutting victims off from their family

    A page inside paperback book nook of ethics, with focus on criminal behavior from bully conglomerates

    Force council

  31. Imagine this man – running for president. Cheating on his wife. Colluding with Putin. Locking up kids in cages. Mocking the disabled. Exonerating the klan… Did You just lose the ability to imagine there? Tells You all about Stephen Colbert, doesn't it?

  32. Colbert is so well read. I just keep asking myself " what's wrong with me?" . Why am I or anyone I know not as well read? "The country we never weren't " is in essence the real argument . Ignorance is a disease. Where is the WAR ON IGNORANCE ? Many people cannot follow this line of thinking which includes most of who I know. It includes family, friends , and associates who cannot follow logic in America. Keep reading America : Moby Dick , Animal Farm , William James. Stop stop reading is what I'm saying.

  33. This is the best and most intellectual interview I've seen since the youtube video with Henry and William James.

  34. 😂😂😂😂😆😂😆😆😆😆😂😆😂😆who is Stephen C. He s such an idiot. Ok just plain stupid. Trying to identify with milenials. Who don't read books. I am shocked that they buy books. When they want school free.

  35. America is not in trouble. It has one of the highest standards of living and treats all Americans fairly not depending on race, ethnicity or gender. It is the most powerful nations yet uses its power for good. It is not in trouble. That's when I turned off. Colbert you're just dumb to say "America is in trouble".

  36. 10/2019 – Oh Stephen – somehow you already knew what was going to happen. Each night you make us laugh, but in private – we all cry for the country we are today.

  37. Colbert is a useless idiot. A court jester jumping around, being a cocky smart-ass in the halls of truly great Americans who have sacrificed for the greatest nation on earth. You`re not worthy to tie America`s shoe laces Colbert.

  38. Colbert is nothing more than a very lucky overpaid clown , a very lucky jackass who happen to be at the right place at the right time

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