Stephen Colbert congressional testimony sounds like an elaborate hoax. Yet this really happened, as Colbert talked to Congress in a serious House hearing. The faux-pundit has talked to congressmen and women frequently, both to “better know” and to “nail” them. However, he actually stopped by Washington to give real testimony — albeit “in character” — about the migrant worker crisis. The invitation to Congress was a big punch line, to the joke that he was only one of a few to take back migrant labor jobs.
This week, The Colbert Report showed its host fulfilling a promise he made to Arturo Rodriguez, head of the “Take Our Jobs, Please” organization. Rodriguez wanted to disprove the stereotype that migrant workers and immigrants are doing jobs Americans don’t want to do. However, Colbert was one of only more than a dozen to sign on for a day of labor.
The invite to Congress was handed by the House Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security and International Law. The comedian was called upon to testify on his experience, which was shown in a two-part series on The Report Wednesday and Thursday.
Before he even got started, Rep. John Conyers requested that he just hand in his statement and leave, so that the more serious witnesses could speak. Yet it was California Rep. Zoe Lofgren who got Stephen Colbert to Congress, so since she wanted him to stay, Colbert went on.
For much of the way, Colbert put on the persona of his Report character, with his usual jabs at politics, immigration, and his character’s own entitlement. Many in the media, and even some in the hearing, believed this would make a mockery of the proceedings. However, it was pointed out that the likes of Elmo have testified before, with no damaging side effects.
Despite the fear over the testimony, the hearing went on without a hitch, and the other witnesses got more than enough time to speak. Colbert himself even got serious in the question-and-answer period, saying that he went into the fields to bring light on “people who have no power.”
The full-time migrant workers in America certainly have little power, with the most extreme anti-illegal immigrant activists calling for them to leave. It remains one of the most serious issues in our economy, and not even a hearing with Stephen Colbert in Congress can disguise that.
Having the comedian give testimony may not have de-legitimized the process, although the reactions of the media and Conyers may not have helped either. At the least, the overreaction to having Colbert in Congress would have been appreciated by Colbert’s character, especially as he tries to “Keep Fear Alive” against the likes of Jon Stewart.
C-SPAN Video Library- “Immigration and Agriculture”
Colbert Nation- “Fallback Position – Migrant Worker Pt. 2”
No Fact Zone- “Video: Stephen Colbert at ‘Protecting America’s Harvest'”
NECN- “Full video: Stephen Colbert testifies in front of Congress”