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Posts Tagged ‘Stephen Colbert

This Achievement Beard?

Beards of young people and out of jobs don’t count.

There are criteria to adhere to Achievement Beard.

Trimmed edges and untrimmed everything else.

Achievement beard is by definition low-maintenance.


Projects its wearer’s public image.

A modest way of underscoring what few people would dare to miss.

A marker of triumphant lassitude

A photograph of the retired David Letterman has been making the rounds recently.

The photo shows the former late-night host stalking the street in khakis and a floppy long-sleeved shirt. The shirt has one enormous pocket.

Letterman displays a deep, soul-summoning gaze. His hair, now gray and cropped close to his skull, stands in a victorious V of a widow’s peak.

His eyes seem scrutinous and feral, as if spiritually unnourished by the generous appeasements of a CBS pension.

He looks like someone who wants to sell you yak-wool sweaters for extreme weather, or a chapbook of his own apocalyptic poems.

Most of all, he looks unshaven. Letterman now wears a wide and woolly beard.

Andrew Bossone shared this link

My wife wants me to shave my beard. Perhaps I haven’t achieved enough.

The achievement beard—a marker of triumphant lassitude, the victory lap after a long job well done—has been gaining currency in recent years among men who might like to move through the world noticeably unnoticed.

It has become standard issue for an entertainer on the comedown from a high-intensity career.

Stephen Colbert donned a seaworthy achievement beard during the nine-month hiatus between his first show and his new post in Letterman’s stead.

And Jon Stewart has been growing one since stepping down from “The Daily Show,” in August.

Yet it doesn’t take a lengthy television run to grow a beard, and similar adornments have been cropping up to mark a range of distinguished endeavors.

The retired soccer star David Beckham was recently seen sporting an achievement beard.

Al Gore famously grew one a while back, apparently to mark the achievement of no longer having to run for office. The beard is a self-presented lifetime-achievement award, a modest way of underscoring what few people would dare to miss.

Exactly how is this beard unlike all other beards? The achievement beard, in length and vigor, occupies a place above James Franco but below Chester Arthur.

It is not to be confused with the recently popular baseball beard, or with the performative crazy beard, or with the hipster beard, which marks no achievement at all.

It is not a bohemian power beard, as worn by ZZ Top or The New Yorker ’s own Richard Brody, and it also shouldn’t be confused with the beard of disaffection, à la Ted Kaczynski, or James Mason during his cross period. (You forgot Extreme Islamists beard)

Rather than saying, “I have given up on the world,” the achievement beard declares, “I am away, but not gone.” (Hence its popularity among showmen at leisure.)

It holds none of the freewheeling, Manson-like menace of the “Joy of Sex” beard, but it’s not too fussy, either.

(Note Letterman’s trimmed edges and untrimmed everything else.) It must never be something that eight minutes of shaving can’t undo. If there’s wax involved, the beard has ceased to mark achievement; it is now a beard of solipsism.

The achievement beard is definitionally low-maintenance

The overtones of the achievement beard are plain. Most examples have a way of growing out to regal length: Colbert’s beard most closely resembled that of King George V.

Most, too, are grey; an achievement-style beard on someone of youth and of moot accomplishment looks strange. (Consider the disturbing beards of Brad Pitt.)

Occasionally, a longstanding avocational beard may become an achievement beard, the way that lifelong writing hobbyists sometimes turn into acclaimed writers (the Frank McCourt of beards).

Generally, though, the achievement beard is notable not because it projects its wearer’s public image but because it doesn’t. The achievement-bearded Letterman is unlike the Letterman we know.

So which Letterman is the “real” Letterman, bearded or unbearded?

Would the bearded man even exist were it not for the ascent of his clean-shaven counterpart?

Such ontological questions confound the mind, but it is possible to solve them using diagrams.

Let us first draw a time x-axis and a spatial y-axis.

Next, let us plot the path of Unbearded David Letterman zigzagging rightward from Indiana to the majestic Ed Sullivan Theatre. Our starting premise is that Letterman remained continually unbearded all this time, but do we know that to be true?

Conceivably, Letterman might have grown a beard at some point along the way—a weekend, say—and shaved it before returning to the airwaves. (Maybe he even grew one beard, shaved it off due to familial teasing, and then, defiantly, grew another beard, a thing known to happen during months of underemployment.)

To take probabilistic account of the various beard-growing possibilities, known and unknown, we must diagram all beard-and-shaving paths and subject them to complex arithmetic.

In the course of drawing these diagrams, however, we will have a curious realization, which is that a bearded Letterman is the same as a shaving Letterman travelling backward in time. (Whoa.)

This complicates the calculations, but it also introduces certain beautiful properties of beardedness. For one thing, we can conclude that the fact of Unbearded Letterman does indeed produce the possibility of Bearded Letterman. Also, if the Bearded and Unbearded Lettermans ever meet, they will annihilate each other and produce a photon. (This has never been experimentally confirmed.)

With such questions resolved, it is possible to make accurate predictions about the beard of Stephen Colbert and, in fact, all beards in the known universe. It also helps to explain certain paradoxes of achievement-beard causality, including Sean Connery.

When Connery grew his achievement beard, in 1975, he was chiefly known for action films, including “Zardoz.” But then his beard appeared, and his career as a serious actor took off. Was this coincidence? Or was it fate? To paraphrase Matthew McConaughey—recently seen in facial hair of uncertain motives—your present achievement matches the future beard of your past self.

There is, of course, a big problem with the semiotics of the achievement beard, which is that women cannot grow it. Does this mean that it’s a redoubt of the patriarchy? Yes, clearly.

Possibly in roundabout solidarity with the cause of equality, or maybe merely in defiance of such laurels, certain men throughout the ages have de-bearded at the moment of their greatest triumph. Consider Henry James, who went bald in all directions during his late years.

Or take a look at the Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, who, though sporting an achievement-like beard at the outset of his corporate ride, now proudly bares his sixty-two-year-old cheeks to the elements. Such examples are heroic.

Aspiring high achievers might be wise to heed them.

This summer, Jack Dorsey, the interim head of Twitter, made news when he appeared on television with a very strange, long beard. The circumstances were misaligned enough to make the beard’s intent mysterious—it was presented in the style of an achievement beard, but what was the achievement?—and the beard was misaligned enough to make Dorsey’s head look frighteningly crescentic.

This week, at last, he was named permanent C.E.O., and the beard appears to be in remission. Good for both of them.

The last fact of the achievement beard may be the most unfair: there’s always something more to do before it’s truly earned.


Ronald Reagan’s Legacy? You mean on Taxes or crazy capitalism?

“Late Show” host Stephen Colbert confronted GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz over the legacy of Ronald Reagan on Monday night, pointing out that the former president was less conservative than Cruz as others often suggest.

Reagan raised taxes. Reagan actually had an amnesty program for illegal immigrants. Neither of those things would allow Reagan to be nominated today,” Colbert said, drawing cheers from his audience.

“So to what level can you truly emulate Ronald Reagan?”

When Cruz deflected, Colbert pressed him on the specifics.

“Raising taxes and amnesty for illegal immigrants,” Colbert said. “Could you agree with Reagan on those two things?”

“No, of course not,” the senator from Texas admitted, but added that Reagan signed the largest tax cut in history.

Colbert didn’t let up.

“But when conditions changed in the country, he reversed his world’s largest tax cut and raised taxes when revenues did not match the expectations, so it’s a matter of compromising,” Colbert said.

“Will you be willing to compromise with the other side?”

Cruz never directly answered the question; instead he talked about running to “live within our means, stop bankrupting our kids and grandkids and follow the Constitution.

“And no gay marriage,” Colbert said.

Marriage should be left to the states to decide, Cruz replied.

At another point in the interview, Cruz said a voter in South Carolina had told him that she voted for Barack Obama in 2008, stayed home in 2012 and wanted to vote for Cruz in 2016.

“Does she have a name? Does this person have a name?” Colbert joked, turning over his notes and getting his pen ready as if he were going to write it down. “I just want to fact-check that one maybe a little bit later.”

Despite the disagreements, the tone of the discussion was civil and even friendly, and Colbert stood up for Cruz when some in the audience began to boo during the discussion of gay marriage.

“Guys, however you feel, he’s my guest, so please don’t boo him,” Colbert said.

Colbert will interview GOP frontrunner Donald Trump on Tuesday night. Stay tuned.

Fabio Sorano shared this link

If you didn’t watch this last night, you really should.

I knew colbert would bring something very different to late night.

I haven’t seen anyone call out bullshit with followup questions like this since Tim Russert on Meet the Press.

“Late Show” host Stephen Colbert confronted GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz over the legacy of Ronald Reagan on Monday night, pointing out that the former…

Should Women Be in Charge of Everything? Just because you love women?

I want to thank the staff of Glamour for asking me to contribute. It’s a nice consolation prize for being passed over for their Woman of the Year Award.

Not that I wanted it anyway. I believe that honor should go to a woman. I’m a bit of a feminist that way.

And make no mistake: I love women. I’m married to one, I was birthed by one, and I played one in my high school production of Romeo and Juliet. No one else could fit into the bodice.

Women today have so many smart, resourceful, and intuitive role models.

Look no further than Marissa Mayer, Michelle Obama, Sacajawea, and the green M&M.

And according to the U.S. Census Bureau, women outnumber men.

Fellas, technically this does make you a minority, but it’s probably best not to say so on your college financial aid application.

It has been pointed out to me that I, like other late-night TV hosts, am a man. And while I’m happy to have a job, I am surprised that the world of late-night TV lacks a female presence, unlike sitcoms, which are packed with smoking-hot wives who teach their doughy husband a valuable lesson when he slips on a pizza and falls headfirst into a porta-potty full of beer. Check your local listings.

While there are many talented female comedians out there, right now the world of late-night is a bit of a sausagefest. Perhaps one day it will be just the opposite—which I believe is called a Georgia O’Keeffe retrospective.

And mine is not the only field that lacks enough women. Where are all the lady blacksmiths?

What about the bait-and-tackle shopkeepers, pool maintenance professionals, building superintendents, or CEOs of Fortune 500 companies? Why are all those minions shaped like tiny phalluses?

Why did Mad Max get top billing in Fury Road when he was essentially just a grunting tripod for Charlize Theron’s rifle? Of course, historically, our thriving U.S. president industry definitely skews male—but that could change in 2016. Carly Fiorina, all eyes are on you.

Even when women do succeed, their stories often aren’t told. Did you know that the first computer, ENIAC, was programmed by six female mathematicians? If it weren’t for those pioneering women, we might not have computers at all. And then how would people read empowering listicles like “20 Hot Actresses Without Makeup! (#5 Will Make You Question God!)”?

My point is this: Why does this gender inequality still persist, and how can we stop it? I don’t have all the answers. And frankly, it’s sexist of you to think I do just because I’m a man. C’mon!

Besides, it’s not my place to mansplain to you about the manstitutionalized manvantages built into Americman manciety. That would make me look like a real manhole.

To be honest, sometimes I wonder whether the world would be a better place if women were in charge. It would be pretty easy to make that happen. Simply tell the men of the world that you’re trying to start a campfire. While we’re all arguing with one another about proper kindling placement and whether using lighter fluid is cheating,* women can just quietly start getting stuff done.

But until that revolution I will continue to fight for women, because I’m a man who is deeply in touch with my femininity. I believe gender is a spectrum, and I fall somewhere between Channing Tatum and Winnie the Pooh. Pooh and I definitely agree on the no-pants thing. As soon as I’m home, off they go—and I’m knuckle-deep in a pot of honey.

I love all the things women love: exfoliating microbeads, period costume dramas, Joe Manganiello’s second row of abs, pay commensurate with my skill set, York peppermint patties, Legolas, the respect of my colleagues, and being warm.

And physically women can relate to me. I have womanly hips—soft and grabbable, and they really fill out my low-rise Levi’s. I’ve got muffin top for days. Sure, the other hosts bring the eye candy. Jimmy Fallon has a boyish charm, and for the ladies who are into ladies, if you squint, Jimmy Kimmel kind of looks like a rugged Mila Kunis. But female viewers need more than a pretty face. They need someone who will represent their voice. And I think this essay has proved that I have an authentic female perspective, because most of it was written by two female writers on my staff.

Point is, I’m here for you, and that means I’m going to do my best to create a Late Show that not only appeals to women but also celebrates their voices.

These days TV would have you believe that being a woman means sensually eating yogurt, looking for ways to feel confident on heavy days, and hunting for houses. But I’m going to make a show that truly respects women, because I know that there’s more than one way to be one.

Maybe you’re a woman who likes women. Maybe you like women and men. Maybe you’re a woman who’s recently transitioned.

Maybe you’re a guy who’s reading this magazine because your girlfriend bought a copy and it looked interesting.

Whoever you are, I promise: I’m going to lean in on this. It really accentuates my muffin top.

Stephen Colbert is the host of The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, which starts September 8 on CBS.

Andrew Bossone shared this link

“I love all the things women love: exfoliating micro-beads, period costume dramas, Joe Manganiello’s second row of abs, pay commensurate with my skill set, York peppermint patties,

Legolas, the respect of my colleagues, and being warm.”

Brand-new Late Show host Stephen Colbert comes clean: He loves women. Can’t get enough of ’em.
Thinks they should be in charge of everything. Hear him out.|By Glamour Magazine




October 2022

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