Stephen Colbert Says Trump Era Felt 'Personally Offensive and Personally Assaultive'

Part of the job of working as a comedian during the Trump administration, Colbert told Variety, was "to not develop a callus"

stephen colbert
Stephen Colbert. Photo: Scott Kowalchyk/CBS via Getty

Though he often satirized the Trump administration and the former president's many gaffes, The Late Show host Stephen Colbert said that it was often difficult to find humor in the state of America.

"The firehose of misinformation or disinformation and the attempts to make all of us feel crazy by thinking that this was crazy gave us a very interesting place to stand," the 57-year-old comedian said in a new Variety profile. "We finally came to the realization that we knew exactly where we wanted to stand — on dry land. Because the rising tide of the administration's mendacity made it very clear that the only thing left for us to do was to say, 'No, no, no. That's not true. No, we're not crazy. They're crazy for saying that.' "

Elsewhere in the profile, Colbert suggested that the former administration and the networks that supported it "played a very complex game of psychology on the American people that damn near worked."

When writing jokes about Trump, 74, and his impact on America, Colbert said the staff would often have to take a break to ensure they didn't become too jaded or desensitized.

"Every so often it would come up in the writers' room. We would need to metaphorically pull the car over and everybody get out to go throw up in a ditch and get our breath back and realize how insane today was," he told Variety. "Because you'd become inured to it. And part of the job was to not develop a callus? That was a big part of it."

Colbert likened Trump to someone who cast a spell over his audience, telling the publication that a "common feeling" among writers on The Late Show was that many of the former president's actions were "personally offensive and personally assaultive."

"Like everybody else in America we were being so swamped by all the strangeness and the weirdness — it's almost like a spell was being cast over people," Colbert said. "It felt personally offensive and personally assaultive to me. It was a common feeling in the building, and we trusted that it was a common feeling out there in the world. And we backed the right horse."

Prior to Trump's loss becoming official, the talk show host poked fun at Trump and his administration for claiming they had won the election, even as millions of votes were still being counted across the country.

"A move that just reeks of desperation and cheap cologne. With a million votes still uncounted, Trump's campaign manager came out of the blue to announce, 'We are declaring victory in Pennsylvania,' " Colbert said, adding, "and I fully expect his victory in Pennsylvania to be just as successful as his victory over coronavirus."

Colbert then showed off a mock cover of PEOPLE's Sexiest Man Alive issue featuring himself.

"Gosh, I hope this announcement doesn't overshadow me declaring myself PEOPLE Magazine's Sexiest Man Alive," he joked. "I sensed a power vacuum in the sexy sphere."

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