Interviewing people while in character

Playing a character in a scripted play or film or TV show is what actors routinely do. So when Stephen Colbert dons his TV character for his show, he is just acting. But the really tricky part is being in character while doing interviews because then much of it cannot be scripted in advance and you have to genuinely inhabit that character so that the exchanges seem genuine.

This requires considerable improvisational skills and is actually quite difficult. I used to wonder how Colbert prepares for his interviews and in this clip, he explains how he does them.


  1. JPS says

    Colbert has incredible talent! But he also has a staff of ten or so incredible writers.

    Two things I’m wondering: How many writers will go with him to CBS, and how many will stay at Comedy Central to keep the show going (assuming CC continues with something similar).

  2. Mano Singham says


    That is his real name as spelled. The difference is that the rest of his family pronounces it as Cole-Bert (as in Bert and Ernie) while he pronounces it as Cole-Bear, like the French actress Claudette Colbert. He explains why here.

  3. Crimson Clupeidae says

    I’m reminded of my days working at the Renfair (AZ). That’s pretty much 10 hours/day of in-character improve. And the people who do it professionally are really quite amazing at it. My character was just an exaggerated version of my more outgoing personality….with a bad English accent. 🙂

  4. Timothy says

    Funny that the interview ends on Colbert saying, “I have to be dumb.”

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