In addition to the overt pseudo-punditry mastered by Colbert's onscreen persona, The Colbert Report's ability to copy and reform The Daily Show's "not journalism" journalism formulates a brand of satire that informs in tandem with entertaining. Indeed, one could argue substantially that the latter would not function properly without the former. Yet in order to consume his humour de jure in its intended context, audiences must adjust their pace with Colbert's. The net results often benefit audiences with healthy doses of linguistics, political science, media studies, ideological criticism, and even gen. ed. fundamentals in academic dishonesty.
One key example draws from Rand Paul's Republican Vice Presential campaign, in which The Report extends into a contemporary lesson on the difference between intentional versus accidental plagiarism. Like the trickster figure Colbert embodies in his dual performance, the sketch toggles between entertainment, journalism, and satire. Colbert's physical gesturing and vocal delivery also tether together a playful yet blunt critique of a seemingly minor but nonetheless significant ethical faux pas committeed by a public figure in high place of prominence.
While such political recurrences make for the stock conventions that supply Colbert, Stewart, and their satirical successors with nightly ritualistic material, the pedagogical takeaways from bits like Rand Paul's plagiarism woes offer millennial students at large (and maybe the small band of extempers in forensics) memorable lessons in the ethics of plagiarism that communicates across multiple learning styles. As trickster pedagogue with his dunce cap conservatism, Colbert embodies out of touch allegiance to the White male authority figure (too close a call for some), subversively upending public trust just as he covertly asserts his own authority in a hybrid archetype between fool-sage. The audience learns without learning, entertained into submissive retention of the sketch's ethical core.
Results-I can successfully report from trial experiences that students recognise both plagiarisms performed, retain the material, and (intentionally) practice media criticism set up for later assignments.
Thai (2014) argues that, "Political humor at least molds a more informed public and at best increases political involvement and excitement." Yet in the wake of the ficticious Colbert's (Faux-bert?) immortality-retirement, a key quesion remains as to whether Colbert--in his transition to The Late Show--will soften his [sincere] brand toward a broad(er) entertainment end versus contemporaries like John Oliver, who have arguably sharpened the two-sided blade that constitutes political satire as contemporary journalism.