"This is just me right now. This is just Stephen Colbert, not Stephen Colbert," explained comedian Stephen Colbert Sunday night while sitting down with Oprah Winfrey on her OWN show, Oprah's Next Chapter.
The Comedy Central host, who is shilling his new book America Again, discussed the origins of his faux-conservative persona. And he said it is based on three cable personalities. Fox News hosts Bill O'Reilly and Geraldo Rivera and CNN's Anderson Cooper.
"[Bill] O'Reilly would be the biggest example [of the Colbert character's inspiration] because O'Reilly is the king," he said. "O'Reilly has been No. 1 in cable news for 15,000 weeks running or whatever.
"He's 'Papa Bear,' but there are a lot of other people sort of mixed in when we started," Colbert added. "I wanted to be sort of as shiny and as new as Anderson Cooper, you know as ... the Silver Surfer of cable news, just shiny and kind of sexy. Also a little bit of Geraldo Rivera, because Geraldo has a real sense of mission. There's a real sense of Geraldo that every report he does is changing the direction of this great ship we call America."
Colbert said that Colbert is a well intentioned, poorly informed, high-status idiot. He also talked about his real-life Super PAC, which has spent "half a million" dollars already.
The "network called and said 'are you really forming a political action committee?'" he said. "And I said 'I don't know, why do you need to know?' And they said 'because if you are that could be trouble' and I said 'well, then we're definitely doing it.'"
In serious discussion, the two discussed Colbert's tragic background. He lost his father and two brothers in a plane crash when he was 10.
"That was my secret name," he explained, saying that the loss was something he internalized. "That loss was my name.... I liked the idea that you have a secret name. ... And that's a name that no one can ever really pronounce, you know, because it's who you are. There's a magic to your secret name."