Photo: Montclair Film Festival
Stephen Colbert and Steve Carell regaled fans at a benefit for the Montclair Film Festival at New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) in Newark last night with memories and insights from collaborations at Second City in Chicago, The Dana Carvey Show and their epic “Even Stepvhen” debates on the Daily Show.
The show began with screenings of Waiters Who are Nauseated by Food and The Ambiguously Gay Duo sketches from the short-lived Dana Carvey Show (1996) featuring Colbert and Carell. Later that year The Ambiguously Gay Duo was reincarnated on Saturday Night Live. That work helped Carell land a gig on the Daily Show in 1999 which already featured Colbert as a correspondent. While on the Daily Show, they produced some memorable Even Stepvhen debates on Responsible Drinking and Medical Marijuana which drew big laughs at the benefit.
“In order to preserve your soul you had to assume a character,” said Colbert about his days as a correspondent. “Going out and doing those field pieces was really hard.”
“You were shining a light on intolerance and ignorance,” said Carell. They both recalled one particular interview they thought was a turning point for the show.
During John McCain’s 2000 Presidential bid Carell, was conversing with the candidate. “He was loving it,” Carell recalls. Colbert picks up the story from there, then you questioned him on how he could be a warrior against pork barrel politics even though his committee approves more pork than any other committee in Congress. “He blanched” Carell recalls. “The whole interview hinged on that moment, that’s what we were hoping for, just to get a moment where he looked bewildered. I stared at him and then said, ‘I’m just kidding, I don’t know what I’m talking about.”
“The Daily Show changed at that moment,” says Colbert. “Just keep being an idiot and you can ask the questions nobody else is asking.”
Colbert and Carell also spoke about Carell’s role as John DuPont in Foxcatcher, the critically-acclaimed psychodrama about the millionaire John Du Pont’s murder of wrestler Dave Schultz.
Was there any temptation to make it funny? asked Colbert. “I never thought of that,” Carell replied. “Some of the scenes resonate with people comedicaly which was a complete surprise because when you’re doing it you’re not thinking of it being funny, it’s just where this guy is. The story itself it so absurd.”
That conversation was followed by a brief Q&A and finished with Carell and Colbert singing the Star Spangled Banner. Colbert told the audience, “As a comedian this is why you end with the national anthem, you’re always guaranteed a standing ovation.”
A Conversation with Stephen Colbert and Steve Carell lasted about 90 minutes and was the Montclair Film Festival’s fourth annual fundraising event with Stephen Colbert. The festival will run from May 1-10, 2015.