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Colbert was born in Washington D.C. , and was raised in Charleston, South Carolina, the youngest of eleven children of an Irish-Catholic family. His father, James William Colbert, Jr., was the vice president for academic affairs at the Medical University of South Carolina, while his mother, Lorna Colbert (née Tuck), was a housewife. His family fostered a intellectual and religious atmosphere, and his parents told Stephen and his siblings that they could challenge the Church and still be considered Christian. From a young age, Colbert recognized that a Southern Accent was seen as negative, making the person seem less intelligent, so he worked hard to suppress his accent, imitating the news anchors on television.
On September 11, 1974, when Colbert was ten years old, his father and two of his brothers, Peter and Paul, were killed in the crash of Eastern Air Lines Flight 212 while it was attempting to land in Charlotte, North Carolina, while trying to enroll the senior sons in a private school in Connecticut. His mother relocated the family to the more urban environment of East Bay Street in Charleston. By his own account, Colbert found the transition difficult and did not easily make new friends in his new neighborhood. Colbert later described himself during this time as detached, lacking a sense of importance regarding the things with which other children concerned themselves. He developed a love of science fiction and fantasy novels, especially the works of J. R. R. Tolkien, of which he remains an avid fan. During his adolescence, he also developed an intense interest in fantasy role-playing games, especially Dungeons & Dragons, a pastime which he later characterized as an early experience in acting and improvisation.
Doomsday and Aftermath
On September 26th, 1983, Stephen Colbert was attending Hampden-Sydney College in Virgina studying philosophy when reports of nuclear bombs being dropped were first announced. It was known that, since the college was, literally, out in the middle of the Virginian countryside, it would not be hit. But soon after, refuges from the east poured into the area, and the college and surrounding town of Farmville, as well local farms, tried their best to care for the refugees. As winter approached, however, the first raiders came to attack the area. The locals, including Colbert and the other students, formed a small militia to protect the area.
After the first winter, in which several dozen starved to death, was when Colbert first started to make jokes about the situation with much dark humor. He became known for his sharp wit and clever humor that bordered on the edge of Black Comedy. For the first few years, the area managed to eventually be self-sufficient food wise for the over 3,000 people living in Hampden-Sydney. Only occasionally would groups leave to try to make contact, but with little fuel and excess food, it was difficult to range far.
Contact with the Virginian Republic
On August 19, 1996, almost thirteen years after Doomsday, soldiers from the Virginian Republic stumbled across the College, surprised that they had managed to last so long with only minor contact with the outside world. The inhabitants were gracious to welcome the patrol, as they also agreed to help stop the major raiders from attacking the area. Colbert, along with roughly thirty others, volunteered to go along, and a brief fight at their encampment near the former Prince Edward-Gallion State Park, managed to rout the attackers. However, during the firefight, Colbert lost the hearing in his right ear permanently.
Soon after, the region was "united" with the Virginian Republic to the north, and Colbert was drafted into the army. He served his two tours in active service, which gave him the right to vote. He was always very proud of his time in the military, describing it "...as the best time in my life, plus I gotta carry a gun around." During his time, Colbert further honed his comedic skills, developing a character he described as: "a fool who has spent a lot of his life playing not the fool." He was considered the joker of the unit he was attached to, and usually the first person to make light of any situation.
However, the deafness in his right ear eventually forced him to be removed from front-line service, and he was asked to become part of the Virginian Republic's re-establishment of the United Service Organization, or the USO. He accepted, seeing it as a way to keep serving the army since he couldn't fight anymore. He traveled to different units, making jokes about the raiders, the Communists and those opposed to "Pres.-Gen. Thom." He was enthusiastically received, and was seen as one of the greatest morale boosters of the Virginian Republic. Some even started to call him the "next Bob Hope," though Colbert was reluctant to take on the role, feeling that he couldn't fill in the legendary performer's shoes. The majority of his shows were broadcast on the local radio, as a way to allow men and women serving in the army to still "attend" his performances: broadcasting the performers was later expanded to other performers as well.
In one of his performances in Charleston in 2001, he was met by President-General James E. Thomson, who climbed up on stage after Stephen has finished his act. Colbert recalled it as the "...one time my character and my real self couldn't figure out what to say." Thomson said that he personally liked Colbert's performance, and told him he was a great morale boost for the men and women in the army.
The Colbert ReportPresident-General Thomson's message about liking the young actor opened up a new path for Colbert: that of a TV host. One of the first stations in Virginia, the VRC, asked Colbert and come to create a new show, and Colbert decided to create a show similar to talk shows that were starting to become popular before Doomsday. The Colbert Report, as it was called, soon became on of the most popular shows on VRC. The censors for the show were extremely lenient, as Colbert promised never to make fun of the President or the Army, but other politicians and nations were "...fair game."
Despite the limited number of TV sets, thousands of people are known to watch the show, in public places such as movie theaters and bars, or in the homes of the handful still with working TV sets, though the program is still broadcast over the radio to reach the soldiers and those without TV's. ]
The show itself is mostly Colbert discussing current affairs, usually with a humorous, right wing view, similar to the small Republican Party in Virginia. There are sometimes visual gags, including when one entire episode (aired on April 1, 2004, as an April Fools Day joke) done in animation. However, they are infrequent, mostly because roughly 75% of those who follow the Report still do so on radio, so the joke is usually lost on them.
The death of Senator George Campbell, one of the first senators of the Virginian Republic on March 3, 2006, forced President-General Thomson to name a new senator to the body. Three days after Senator Campbell's funeral, Thomson asked Colbert to join the Senate. Stephen accepted, and was sworn in on March 26. This was meet with both joy and mourning, for the Colbert Report would be "temporarily" put on hold, though he would continue his radio program, with a mixture of humor and realism. In the first elections for the Senate on Halloween 2009, Colbert overwhelming won his seat. In the Senate, Colbert has been active in pushing for military spending and territorial expansion, as well as the push for a more active role in foreign affairs.
In 1997, while serving in the army, Colbert meet his future wife, Evelyn McGee, a fellow South Carolinian who managed to survive Doomsday, and eventually, along with her family, found their way into the Virginian Republic. They married when Colbert started his acting career in 1999, and have three children.