Stephen Colbert and Hugh Laurie “Bring it” to Broadcast TVBy: Lea Leonard - August 7, 2013
Drop a challenge? Leave it up to funny man pundit Stephen Colbert to lay down a gauntlet.
During an episode of the Colbert Report, a popular late-night cable show, he paired up with British actor Sir Hugh Laurie for an airing that was anything but typical.
An appeal for a broader interpretation of television’s indecency standards by multiple broadcast networks prompted Colbert to dish up his own bawdy brand of comedy in response. He, along with Laurie, with much dramatic air, spoke aloud phrases such as “nutsack” and “cooch juice”; seemingly labeled too “hot” for broadcast television. ABC, CBS and NBC, television’s broadcast “trinity,” say that under the current standards, they cannot maintain the level of viewership enjoyed by powerhouses’ such as Viacom.
It wasn’t the first time Colbert was reported as upsetting the boundaries acceptability. According to FCC reports, there have been more than a dozen complaints for indecency levied against the Colbert Report and the late-night talk show host. One report, submitted by phone to the FCC in 2008 says an episode of the Colbert Report advocates racist violence.
“The Colbert Report featured Toby Keith as a guest star. Toby Keith performed a racist song that advocates lynching. The song includes the following lyrics: ‘Grandpappy told my pappy back in my day, son A man had to answer for the wicked that he’d done. Take all the rope in Texas Find a tall oak tree, round up all of them bad boys Hang them high in the street For all the people to see’ The violent, racist history of the southern U.S. is nothing to be proud of. This blatant advocation of lynching is highly offensive and has no place on the air.”
Another FCC complaint characterized the Colbert Report as promoting necrophilia.
“Colbert did a report about a new exhibit dedicated solely to dead bodies having sex as part of the Body Worlds exhibitions. Onscreen for several minutes was a photo of one of the displays from the exhibit featuring the dead bodies of a man and a woman having sex. The woman was seated upright on top of the man. I was not happy to have my teenage son see this.”
When responding to broadcast networks’ “cultural appeal” for freedom, Colbert taunted with a biting wit.
“ You can whack my bag anytime.”