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Colbert Addresses Staff's Detainment by Capitol Police: Comparisons to Insurrection are 'Grotesque'

"This was first degree puppetry. This was hijinks with intent to goof."
  • Stephen Colbert had quite an "interesting" weekend, which he addressed in his monologue on the The Late Show Monday night. On Thursday, a field production team for his show was detained at the Capitol while filming a segment with Late Show puppet Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, voiced by Robert Smigel.

    "How was your weekend?" Colbert asked at the beginning of his monologue. "I certainly had an interesting one, because some of my staff had a memorable one."

    "Triumph offered to go down to D.C. to interview some Congress people to highlight some January 6 hearings," he continued. "I said, 'Sure, if you can get anyone to agree to talk to you. Because, and please don't take this as an insult, you're a puppet.'"

    But things didn't go according to plan when seven people working for the show, including Smigel, were arrested for filming in an unauthorized location.

    After the arrest, the Capitol Police released a statement saying, "The building was closed to visitors and these individuals were determined to be a part of a group that had been directed by the USCP to leave the building earlier in the day. They were charged with Unlawful Entry. This is an active criminal investigation, and may result in additional criminal charges after consultation with the U.S. Attorney."

    CBS also released a statement late Friday saying that the interviews "were authorized and pre-arranged through Congressional aides of the members interviewed."

    On Monday, Colbert offered his own explanation of the incident.

    "After [the team] finished their interviews, they were doing some last-minute puppetry and jokey make-em-ups in a hallway, when Triumph and my folks were approached and detained by the Capitol police — which actually isn't that surprising," he said. "The Capitol police are much more cautious than they were, say, 18 months ago, and for a very good reason. If you don't know what that reason is, I know what news network you watch."

    The Late Show host described the process of detainment as professional and noted that everyone, including the Capitol police, was just doing their jobs, though it was a "very unpleasant experience" for his staff.

    "A fairly simple story," said Colbert. "Until the next night, when a couple of the TV people started claiming that my puppet squad had 'committed insurrection' at the U.S. Capitol building. First of all, what? Second of all, huh? Third of all, they weren't in the Capitol building."

    "Fourth of all — and I am shocked I have to explain the difference — but an insurrection involves disrupting the lawful actions of Congress and howling for the blood of elected leaders all to prevent the peaceful transfer of power. This was first degree puppetry. This was hijinks with intent to goof. Misappropriation of an old Conan bit."

    Colbert added, "Drawing any equivalence between rioters storming our Capitol to prevent the counting of electoral ballots and a cigar-chomping toy dog is a shameful and grotesque insult to the memory of everyone who died."

    The Late Show With Stephen Colbert airs weeknights at 11:35 PM ET on CBS.

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    Deena ElGenaidi's writing has been featured in Nylon, MTV News, Insider, The AV Club, and more. You can follow her on Twitter @deenaelg.

    TOPICS: Stephen Colbert, CBS, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Robert Smigel