05/13/2012 07:00 am ET

'Colbert Report' Host Turns 48!

Nation, today comedian Stephen Colbert is 48!

Colbert is perhaps best known for his patriotic, right-wing news anchor character (yes, it's an act) on Comedy Central’s satirical news show The Colbert Report. The host has generated a loyal following since transitioning from a correspondent on Jon Stewart's The Daily Show to host his own show in 2005 (the idea for The Colbert Report was first introduced on Stewart's show in 2003).

Colbert's antics jumped from the small screen to the nation's capital when he and Stewart teamed up to launch the Rally To Restore Sanity/March To Keep Fear Alive in October 2010. Attracting hundreds of thousands of supporters to the National Mall, the rally "[poked] fun at the nation's ill-tempered politics, its fear-mongers and doomsayers," the Associated Press reported.

In the days before his self-serious, bombastic persona dominated Comedy Central, the comedian was part of The Second City improv group in Chicago and a writer for Saturday Night Live.

But the comedian's life wasn't all laughs. At 10 years old, Colbert lost his father and two siblings in a plane crash (he is the youngest of 11). Colbert credits his mother for how he coped with that time, telling The New York Times in 2011:

"There’s a common explanation that profound sadness leads to someone’s becoming a comedian, but I’m not sure that’s a proven equation in my case. I’m not bitter about what happened to me as a child, and my mother was instrumental in keeping me from being so."

This outlook on life seems to have served him well. He had a brief run for president in his native state of South Carolina earlier this year. And in April, Colbert was named one of TIME’s 100 Most Influential People.

Colbert has also found success as an author; his book I Am America (And So Can You!) spent 29 weeks on The New York Times Best Seller List. More recently, Colbert released his first children’s book: I Am A Pole (And So Can You!), about a pole looking for his place in life. Colbert discussed the book in a series of hilarious videos with Julie Andrews and beloved children's author Maurice Sendak, who died last week.

Colbert will be releasing his next book America Again: Re-Becoming The Greatness We Never Weren't in October.

Happy birthday, Stephen Colbert. We salute you! Check out our slideshow for some of Stephen Colbert's funniest clips.

Stephen Colbert At His Funniest
Stephen Colbert At His Funniest