Friday, June 5, 2009

Stephen Colbert to broadcast from Iraq next week

David Letterman and Howard Stern, you've got competition. Monday night at 11:30, Stephen Colbert will bring his special brand of wit to the troops in Iraq, finally answering the question he's been asking on his show for the past several weeks: "Where in the world and when in time is Stephen Colbert going to be in the Persian Gulf?"

According to this AP report, Colbert arrived at the former Al Faw Palace at Camp Victory in Baghdad earlier today. "The series of shows, each to be taped in front of an audience of about 450 troops, have been dubbed 'Operation Iraqi Stephen: Going Commando.' It's the first time anyone has broadcast from Iraq for a USO tour."

Along with comedy bits, Stephen will feature interviews with Gen. Raymond Odierno, the current commander of the forces in Iraq, and Barham Saleh, the deputy prime minister of Iraq.

The shows' theme will be the declining attention paid to the war in Iraq. Colbert says he was spurred to make the trip when he noticed economic news coverage eclipsing reports from Baghdad.

Colbert said he feels a "special guilt" and responsibility to keep the soldiers' story alive because of the political nature of his program. The comedian is also guest editing next week's issue of Newsweek magazine. (A mock-up sits on his desk with the question "Remember Iraq?" splashed across the cover.)

"I don't want to forget that people are struggling through the things that I sometimes make jokes about," he said.

The 45-year-old comedian says he's not afraid of the danger of visiting Iraq ("I'm not a high value target"). Instead, he said he's only nervous about doing a good show for the troops.

"The show is always about me, it's always about the character," said Colbert. "What's different about this is, it's really about them. If they laugh, I'll be completely satisfied."