The people behind "The Colbert Report" may be the smartest minds in televison: While everyone else frets about YouTube, web TV, and platform integration Stephen Colbert & Co are already galvanizing the online to action and integrating fan content into the show, to hilarious effect. It is, in a word, freaking brilliant.
Never mind citizen journalism, thanks to last night's episode "The Colbert Report" has become the first program to feature fan content — and open the floodgates to more. Last week, Colbert did a hilarious rendition of a Jedi knight, whipping a lightsaber around in front of a greenscreen (see it here). Last night, Colbert announced the "Stephen Colbert Greenscreen Challenge" where members of the Colbert Nation (a website as well as a movement) were invited to try their hand at filling in the rest. Said Colbert:
"A week ago I showed off some of my light saber skills in front of a green screen. Well, all over the internets, you heroes took that footage and added in backgrounds and action. Well, Nation, in order to honor your efforts, we're going to start showing your bold depictionism of my heroic fight. "
Colbert then showed a vid from "a web hero who calls himself 'Nick The Taurus'" — a hilariously low-rent clip of Colbert fighting off the occassional superimposed animated claw. But then he showed another video (from "Splaaaa") that integrated Colbert into actual "Star Wars" action, and it was terrific. So there's no doubt that the web is going to go to town on this — free content for Colbert, and an amazing return to his community of fans. Unreal.
This is just the latest in "The Colbert Report"'s savvy exploitation of the web. As pointed out by Popped Culture, first he wreaked havoc on Wikipedia,
wiki'ing up a storm in entries on elephants, George Washington and Colbert's own entry.
Next he challenged "the supremacy of Chuck Norris" to name a bridge in Hungary (Go here to vote, too). With an veritable army of viewers each night and the expanded online audience the next day, the web reach of Colbert's online experiments just keeps getting wider and wider. Probably won't be long before other shows follow suit but in the meantime, "The Colbert Report" has proven yet again why it's one of the most cutting-edge shows on television.
p.s. Is it me, or does Colbert totally look like a Vulcan in the pic above? Live long and prosper, Stephen!