Stephen Colbert: ‘I Booked Bill O’Reilly and I Got William O’Reilly’

By Alex Weprin Comment

Comedy Central host Stephen Colbert talks to Playboy (probably not safe for work) about many things, including his character’s influence, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly.

PLAYBOY: Who’s your ideal guest?
COLBERT: We want someone who represents something, who feels strongly about what they’re talking about and will allow for a little dramatic friction. The most disappointing guest is somebody who won’t be their personality.

PLAYBOY: What does that mean? How can you not be your personality?
COLBERT: Take Mr. Bill O’Reilly. He was a perfectly lovely guest, but he wouldn’t be his personality. He wouldn’t be the guy he is on his show. And I don’t know why. I went on his show, and I was my personality. That was our deal; I’d go on his show and he’d come on mine. But he came on my show and he wasn’t his personality. He wasn’t an unpleasant person. He’s a perfectly fine guest and I have no complaints other than the fact that I booked Bill O’Reilly and I got William O’Reilly.

PLAYBOY: Did he give you any advice? Any words of wisdom from one pundit to another?
COLBERT: He said, “Watch your guest list. If you book the same kind of people over and over—Al Franken, Keith Olbermann—people notice that pattern.” I told him, “Oh, Bill, I toy with those guys. I’m slapping them around.” He said, “I know, but not everybody is watching your show as closely as I am.” I was like [clasps hands and holds them to his chest], “I’ve totally made it!” That was about five, six months into the show.