Colbert’s ‘Better Know a District’ Returns
Posted at 11:14 a.m. on May 17, 2013
Stephen Colbert’s “Better Know a District” segment is back with a vengeance.
Colbert, right, at a taping years back of “Better Know a District” with Democratic Arizona Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
“The Colbert Report” anthology of awkward congressional interviews was on the verge of extinction in recent years. But in the past few weeks, a handful of Democrats have sat down with Colbert for their fair share of abuse.
Most recently, Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Wis., subjected herself to the Colbert treatment, and her Wednesday night interview was such a doozy that the show extended it for an additional segment.
The key part of the interview is in Part Two, when Colbert and Moore simulate a daredevil motorcycle jump. Capitol Hill staffers gushed about Moore’s performance.
Her staff encouraged the interview.
“We thought she had the kind of personality that can roll with a persona and a character like Colbert,” Moore spokeswoman Staci Cox said.
“She was definitely a little apprehensive about going on the show at first,” Cox said. “But then when she saw him at the Democratic retreat in February, she understood that he is a character and you have to go on the show getting the joke.”
The staff of Rep. Donna Edwards, D-Md., similarly encouraged her to do “The Colbert Report.” Her appearance had the Hill buzzing for a week about Colbert’s term of endearment for her, “Sister Edwards.”
“I thought, ‘Why not?’” Edwards said in an interview. “I have a very engaging and encouraging young staff.”
She described the experience the way politicians used to describe interviews with Tim Russert.
“This is what I discovered — you can’t prepare,” she said.
Colbert grilled Edwards for about an hour, getting more than enough material for the seven-minute segment. Along the way, he hit her with past quotes and tweets that she “only vaguely remembered.”
Edwards was impressed with the research he put into her record and added that the show’s editing “didn’t so much change what was being said but changed the context.”
Interestingly, this was not Colbert’s first time to cover Maryland’s Fighting Fourth — he interviewed Edwards’ predecessor, former Rep. Albert Wynn in 2006.
“I think if you know yourself and you feel comfortable in your skin and you also recognize that there’s a potential that you’ll just look really ridiculous and sound hilarious … if you’re OK with that, you should roll with it,” Edwards said.