FedEx CEO Fred Smith was ostensibly the main man at the Ad Council's annual fundraising dinner on Wednesday night, but it can be hard even for the winner of a public service award to compete with The Man Who's Succeeding David Letterman.
Yes, Stephen Colbert, in his waning days as host of Comedy Central's Colbert Report and just months away from taking the reins of CBS' The Late Show, shined in his role as emcee of the event, which drew some 1,400 ad executives to the Waldorf Astoria in New York and raised a record $3.5 million.
Telling jokes and taking ceremonial bows, the former Second City improv master skewered everything from Smokey the Bear to social media. Here are his five funniest lines of the night:
- "Advertisements are like a whole TV show boiled down to 30 seconds. And best of all, advertisements aren't interrupted by commercials. I can't stand those things."
- "I've learned so much from ads over the years. Thanks to the Geico ads, I know that in 15 minutes or less, I will probably see another Geico ad."
- "Public service announcements are delivered right to the audience who needs them most: whoever is watching local TV at 4 a.m."
- "For anyone here who needs a gluten-free meal: stop needing them," Colbert deadpanned, just before the main course was served. "Eat a roll."
- After recognizing a string of dinner sponsors, Colbert further noted, "And it's not just Facebook. I also want to thank the CEO of MySpace for being here tonight. He will be coming around in a moment with more bread."
Near the close of the evening, which began with cocktails at 6 p.m. and ended with applause at 9:40 p.m., Colbert even tweaked Smith.
"Please join your friends and colleagues at the afterparty—brought to you by Facebook—and the after-afterparty, in Fred Smith's suite. We'll do Jell-O shots with McGruff and Smokey the Bear," Colbert said, earning his last laugh.