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Stephen Colbert: 'I Was A Corn Packer'

Stephen
The blogosphere has spent the last day or so critiquing Stephen Colbert's unusual performance in front of the House Judiciary Committee yesterday. While his jokes were, at the very least, amusing, he did give us a few groan-worthy doozies. In particular, one joke Colbert made in front of Iowa Rep. Steve King about gay Iowans fell remarkably flat.

During the hearing, King commented to Colbert about a video shown at the hearing. King said Colbert was unpacking corn instead of packing it during his trip to the farm. King said he presumed the film was run backward because that was counter-productive to getting the corn to market.

Colbert said he didn't understand the statement, but explained that he was packing corn, even iced it down. Colbert went on to say, "I know it's offensive, because corn packer is a derogatory term for a gay Iowan."

Funny or unfunny? You decide.

Watch Colbert's opening statements here and watch him deliver the corn packer joke, AFTER THE JUMP.

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Comments

  1. I'm a proud corn packer (gay Iowan) and huge Stephen Colbert fan. The man has balls of steel. First the correspondents' dinner, and now this. Fearless and funny. My hero.

    Posted by: mistaketv | Sep 25, 2010 10:54:55 AM


  2. Can't anyone take a joke?

    It is called satire and it is meant to SEEM crude, insensitive, and/or tasteless.

    Not to mention that he was in character, and not speaking as himself. Think of it like being a drag queen, except instead of putting on a wig and makeup, he puts on his invisible douchey conservative hat. It is an act, get over it.

    Posted by: paul | Sep 25, 2010 11:20:40 AM


  3. I don't understand what Colbert would have to offer the committee. He's a television personality, a comedian, he makes his living being ironic and sometimes funny. That's fine for Comedy Central, but what could he possibly offer in the way of serious discourse to this group? If he wants to play around in Washington he ought to get himself elected, as Al Franken did.

    Posted by: Tone | Sep 25, 2010 11:22:56 AM


  4. While Colbert has had funnier bits, he was walking a fine line knowing he was before Congress and that the media, especially Fox, was going to pick him apart.

    That said, the biggest display of disgrace in Congress this week was the dodging of both DADT and the middle class tax cuts. Rep King isn't fit to shine Colbert's shoes, let alone wipe his ass.

    Posted by: patrick nyc | Sep 25, 2010 11:23:11 AM


  5. Great joke, directed right at gay-hater Rep. Steve ("We know about corn in Iowa") King.

    Posted by: Philo | Sep 25, 2010 11:25:27 AM


  6. I'm a huge Colbert fan. It's some of the best political satire out there today. But given the state that the country is in, I rather think Congress' time could have been used more effectively. I don't want Glenn Beck doing his shtick in Congressional hearings, and Colbert shouldn't have been invited either. What's left of the dignity and gravitas of Congress should be preserved at all costs... though granted, the remnant of such dignity is surely only a homeopathic amount.

    And Patrick is right. Rep King isn't fit to eat the corn out of Colbert's poop.

    Posted by: The Milkman | Sep 25, 2010 11:39:13 AM


  7. The "corn packer" comment was without a doubt one of the most audacious and hilarious ripostes that has ever been delivered in this context. Colbert is amazing.

    Posted by: Serolf Divad | Sep 25, 2010 12:11:46 PM


  8. I love Colbert - but is this sort of hearing really the time or place for comedy?

    Posted by: mike128 | Sep 25, 2010 12:20:59 PM


  9. A talented comedian, yes. But this stunt is going to come back and bit the Democrats at some-point. Allowing someone in-character to deliver "sworn testimony" is a mockery of the legal process of Congressional discovery. A has the possibility of setting a precedent that will haunt Congress.

    If the Democrats want a Colbert appearance, invite him to a Caucus dinner or a fundraiser...not a Congressional hearing.

    Posted by: Ted B. (Charging Rhino) | Sep 25, 2010 12:21:58 PM


  10. To put it in context, Elmo spoke before Congress before, and Colbert paid for everything instead of having the bill covered by the "American people," or whatever outrage Fox is selling.

    In the end, Colbert even said some compelling things about injustice and the American ideals of equality.

    He is great and deserves huge props for doing this. He's totally my hero.

    Posted by: Dan4444 | Sep 25, 2010 12:37:51 PM


  11. The joke was funny because it was so cringe-inducing on multiple levels.

    It was funny because as the character Colbert, Colbert was mocking the pseudo-politically-correct right, who often happen subconsciously (or not) upon questionably derogatory terms for minorities and other oppressed peoples and then call more attention to the fact that they have done so by apologizing for it. By doing this, such right-wingers drive home the derogatory remark without being held accountable for making or thinking it.

    To engage with such pyrotechnic rhetorical devices in front of those very right wingers he was mocking was ingenious. And ballsy.

    It was simultaneously subtle and blatant, and outright audacious. If there were a Nobel Prize for comedy and/or chutzpah, he'd deserve it! At very least he should receive the Mark Twain prize. (Twain also testified before Congress, incidentally, and so those who say Colbert was misplaced by testifying are historically challenged, like the rest of the nation.)

    If we, the gays, get all uppity about this joke, we are only going to chip away at one of our greatest allies in media. And prove ourselves to be the thoughtless, shallow, dim-witted, humorless, rule-queen bunch we should all be aspiring not to be, but unfortunately often are.

    Posted by: Andalusian Dog | Sep 25, 2010 12:41:04 PM


  12. He was hilarious and also made serious testimony. The sober part is here: http://news.yahoo.com/video/us-15749625/22094299

    It's not like the house doesn't see a fair amount of attempts at humor to prove a point. At least Colbert's a pro.

    If you're offended by corn packer you need to go get yourself a sense of humor.

    Posted by: Dylan | Sep 25, 2010 12:49:01 PM


  13. His show's getting tedious. This, however, was funny.

    Posted by: TANK | Sep 25, 2010 12:52:55 PM


  14. No wonder the Democrats are about to lose the House.

    Posted by: Bryan | Sep 25, 2010 1:16:40 PM


  15. I guess we now have to give Michael Richards a pass too.

    Posted by: anon | Sep 25, 2010 1:42:31 PM


  16. He had _one_ joke which fell with a thud. Out of five years of top notch performances. So yeah, whatever. He's still my BFF.

    I see that to a person, the DC press corps are NOT amused and are collectively clutching their pearls. They're still wounded from the White House Correspondents' Dinner, I guess. At this point in time, that should be the stamp of approval letting you know that something awesome just happened.

    At the end of the day, Colbert was there as opening act for an important person no one would have been otherwise paying attention to (the labor leader who even got some guff from Democrats who apparently miss no opportunity to punch a hippie - which, by the way, is why they have no voting-booth loyalty. It's hardly Colbert's fault they can't politick.)

    As he has been doing on his show for five years now, he addressed - in five minutes and in a non-partisan manner - things which wide swaths of this country still refuse to accept or believe: that we're on an economic race to the bottom; that certain people like it that way; that those of us managing to live the good life because our tomatoes and tube socks are cheap are doing so at a great expense which will eventually become our own lot.

    Nobody is saying these things. Nobody. Definitely nobody who wants to get elected. And yeah, the "cornpacker" joke fell flat. You know what joke made up for it in spades? "I didn't ask to see their papers."

    I laughed, I cried.

    Posted by: Name2 | Sep 25, 2010 1:54:40 PM


  17. You know that Colbert was just chomping at the bit to say, "fudge." I got the joke...obviously the Representatives didn't. That he was 'testifying' in character was more than a little odd. Our leaders in action.

    Posted by: Jack Scribe | Sep 25, 2010 4:02:46 PM


  18. I thought it was funny...and appropriate. I am not from Iowa though, but I am gay.

    Posted by: Anthony | Sep 25, 2010 4:14:31 PM


  19. I agree that the joke was actually appropriate in the context he delivered it. He's playing his character of an over the top conservative and basically showcasing how inane these people can be. In another setting from another person, it might get that look of annoyance but the fact that he seized that and ran it though the US Congress was hysterical to me. Good for him

    Posted by: Drew | Sep 25, 2010 6:04:54 PM


  20. When journalists spend more time covering celebrities and teabaggers than offering truth-seeking and politicians pander to their idiot bases for re-election cash instead of working to move our country forward, a professional comedian has to come forward to shine a light on the sad state of affairs.

    Colbert is a genius - and with Jon Stewart is probably doing more to educate and motivate than anyone else in the country right now.

    Posted by: Casey | Sep 25, 2010 7:26:24 PM


  21. Exactly Drew. Colbert wasn't wasting any ones time. His testimony was essential to showcasing the mockery that has become of our judicial system. It was political satire intended on bringing attention to serious topics, one of which being immigration reform. Colbert stepped out of character at times and displayed a genuine emotional concern for our plight (his whole testimony is essentially serious, with the delivery being an essential factor). Colbert was demonstrating the waste of time our bipartisan system has become. Colbert mentioned, very seriously, that his testimony was essential as the American people need a voice, a voice that is drowned out by the Rush Limbaughs, Ann Coulters, Hannity's, Coopers, and even Olbermann's of the world. I applaud Colbert, for his brilliance, intelligence, composure, and ability to bring attention to the ridiculous politicians that currently govern our nation through the caricatures they so richly deserve.

    Posted by: Cory | Sep 25, 2010 7:27:32 PM


  22. "Twain also testified before Congress, incidentally, and so those who say Colbert was misplaced by testifying are historically challenged, like the rest of the nation."

    Perhaps, but the difference is this:

    Twain wasn't there as a "character", he was there as himself, a writer/humorist. Colbert, on the other hand, was there as his character, not himself. And Colbert appeared on 60 Minutes in the past as himself, so why not do the same in front of congress?

    I feel about this the same way I do about Obama appearing on The View or SNL. There's a place to mix politics and humor, but sometimes there needs to be a line drawn. IMO, the POTUS should not be on a comedy show or The View, and comics should not testify in front of congress in character. Otherwise, the whole system starts looking like a worse joke than it already is.

    Posted by: johnny | Sep 25, 2010 10:55:23 PM


  23. I loved his performance, as noted earlier it was so appropriate on so many levels. And the corn packer joked reminded me pleasantly about reading Edmund White's "A Boy's Story" where I first heard the term "corn holing." Hmmmm

    Posted by: Ted | Sep 25, 2010 11:05:52 PM


  24. You know we're well on the way to equality when Gay people enjoy being the butt of vulgar jokes as much as Straight people enjoy telling them! Onward to Gay Rights Nirvana, where we'll all be free to do what we secretly long to do: amuse heterosexist sensibilities on a 24/7 basis.

    Posted by: Stuffed Animal | Sep 26, 2010 4:15:04 PM


  25. Amidst all the hand-wringing and teeth gnashing that followed Stephen Colbert‘s congressional testimony over the plight of migrant workers last week, there has been one individual curiously absent from a microphone: Stephen Colbert. But those who saw this as more of a publicity stunt than an earnest effort to bring attention to “people without power” (as Colbert referred to the migrant workers) must be disappointed that he’s refused to take advantage of the spotlight. On last night’s Colbert Report he did make brief mention of his testimony, apologizing to gay Iowans for his “corn packer” remark.

    Posted by: tui laptop | Oct 19, 2011 12:15:19 AM


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