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Stephen Colbert


colbert-hpthumbStephen Colbert is the host and executive producer of The Colbert Report, an Emmy and Peabody Award-winning series on Comedy Central. Touted by The New York Times as “one of the best television shows of the year” and praised by Entertainment Weekly as “the best show of the year,” the program has garnered ratings and critical acclaim since its 2005 launch. Before the success of his own program, Colbert was the much-beloved and longest-tenured correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. His performance career began in Chicago with the famed Second City improv troupe and has spanned sketch comedy, television drama, animated film and live-action narrative. In 2006, Colbert was named one of Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People.” His 2007 book, I Am America (And So Can You!), reached number one on The New York Times Best Seller List.

Born in Washington, DC and raised near Charleston, South Carolina, Colbert graduated from Northwestern University. His Irish ancestors immigrated to the U.S. throughout the 19th century. Stephen’s great-great-grandfather, Michael Garin, arrived with the massive wave triggered by Ireland’s Great Famine, but a number of his ancestors came earlier still. Colbert’s German ancestors arrived in the American colonies in the mid-18th century. The youngest of eleven children, he now lives with his wife Evelyn and their three children in the New York metropolitan area.

  • David N

    My hero! I aspire to be as funny and as damn insightful and smart as he is.

  • Cindy

    Go Stephen! Colbert Nation in the house! \m/

  • Sylvia

    I can’t wait to see the entire interview. Colbert is a comedic genius. His Colbert Nation rules ;)!

  • Carol

    Thumbs up from another disciple of the Colbert Nation!

  • Patty Mellinger

    I can never get enough of Stephen! I have a shrine in my office to him. I’m thinking of having a movie screen in my office dedicated to every clip he’s ever made.

  • Donna Gagnon

    So nice to see the REAL Stephen Colbert speaking. I was not surprised to find a more warm, sweet person than his TV persona. But I agree with Patty. I can’t get enough of Stephen.

  • Claudia

    The “real” Stephen reminds me a lot of one of my brothers, Dave. He also is warm, incredibly intelligent, and always a joy to hear his voice.

    If we find out Stephen *is* descended from Native Americans (this is not a “spoiler alert!”, as I have no idea), all the better — from a member of the Colbert Nation since 2007.

  • Maria

    Love u, Stephen!

  • Neil

    Um is Colbert not a “natural born citizen?” Is he Obama’s lost twin? When did his family stop practicing satanic rites? Find out here.

  • Tim

    Can you sweet PBS folks load some lower-quality clips? The video is fragmented and we have a reasonably fast Internet connection and comp. Thanks!

  • Jonn McD

    Colbert is a brilliant mind. He’s refreshingly hilarious and inspirational. I’m glad to be a part of the Colbert nation.

  • Kathy

    I love Stephen Colbert and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Very interesting interview clip — what a charming person Stephen is. But what I have to wonder is: if all the people who claim some Native American heritage are actually of Native American extraction, why aren’t they more generous with their people — The Native American would not have the highest poverty rate in the nation if all who claim that heritage were more supportive of them. Think about it… how many people do you know who claim that their great great grandmother was one quarter Indian..?



  • Barbara

    This is in response to Kathy: I too have Native American blood way back when and my grandfather was ashamed to talk about it
    . We can be more supportive of Native Americans, but most Native Americans want nothing to do with all the “newfound” Natives. First, they think we are after government money, and second, to think the Native American mixed with white blood? They would rather the African American mix with their blood.
    I would like to hear any Native American’s opinion about this.

  • Barbara

    oh, forgot to comment on Tim’s comment. Unless they fixed the glitch with the video, my video looks perfect, and I don’t have the greatest connection speed or the newest computer. Maybe you need to update some of your applications.

  • Che

    I love this chance to see real Stephen! He seems like such a real and loveable person, and those who call him family and a friend must be lucky to do so. I can’t wait to see this show.

  • Stephanie

    My parents have done our genealogy for years – we found (and met!) our family in Lithuania when we weren’t even sure of the placename. If Stephen is really interested, he might be amazed at what else he can find out. Interestingly enough, we had a rumor about Native Americans in our line, too – nope, just North Carolina German immigrants & lots of ‘em. Looks like a fascinating show – can’t wait to see it!

  • anne

    There was the Native American or Aboriginal People rumor in our family, DNA testing proved 14% with 1% East Asian.. It was fun but pricey to find out. We are all related.

  • L.Tallchief

    High-Larious. Loved his book, love his shtick. And how refreshing to hear someone tell the story of their mythical Indian heritage, “but there’s no proof of that”. My mother used to quip that if we believed everyone who claimed their “great-great-grandmother was an Indian princess”, there must have been no Indian men five generations back. Actually, Colbert’s father’s family’s roots are all around my reservation, so it wouldn’t surprise me if he really did have some Indian blood. The youngest of 11? Sounds Indian to me. That and his self-deprecating humor. And to answer that earlier poster’s comment about not wanting to claim Wannabes because of government money? That smacks of the old racist claim that we don’t pay taxes but live off the dole. We tend to recognize Indian blood when it’s present, and it has nothing to do with skin color. FBIs (Full-Blooded Indians) come in all different hues, so that’s not the tie that binds us. Being Indian is being tribal, first of all, and having a common ancestry that was never denied. We have much in common, but it’s not always something that can easily be described like high cheekbones, straight black hair, or the genetic tendency towards alcoholism. Anyway, Colbert rules. Would that he would run for Prez . . . .

  • Gemma

    This is to Barbara who claims that native people would rather be mixed with black Americans than white. I’m not sure where that generalization comes from but it is illogical and certainly not a reflection of reality. Mixed black natives are treated much more poorly (by fbi’s) in general than mixed bloods with white ancestry. Most prominent Indians(Peter Pytchlynn, Ben Nighthorse Campbell, Cobell) do have substantial white blood and that is considered “normal.” These are the people who are admired and respected, for whatever reason…survival or otherwise. Black blood has historically come in at the bottom of the totem pole on the North American continent and while I personally love being both African and Choctaw there are plenty of natives who have made it clear that they consider me less than.

  • David Chowes

    The most innovative satiric genius in my lifetime.

  • Jack

    I work on TCR. Stephen is great, but let’s not forget his writing team. They are a very talented bunch of people. The entire staff and crew are the best in the biz! I can’t believe I get paid for having fun!

  • Patrick

    For years I have enjoyed Colbert. He is truly charming, amazing, brilliant, hysterically funny and poignant all at once. True creativity and intelligence rolled into one person. You can see the love of a family coming through. family is everything. Someone like this may never have come to be without the support of a family. to be an artist take a tremendous amount of strength. Very few can recognize that goal without knowing that no matter how far out on that limb they go, there is laways family at arms length to catch and support them. I am not saying he had it easy – even though he does but the truth of the matter is when you do have a support system you can take chances and know deep inside you can always flop on a couch somewhere or get a meal somewhere if you are going through tough times. He is brilliant and has made the most of the opportunities he was afforded. This is a testament to him and to the strength of his family. If only he would run for President for real. Keep going please, you and mr. Stewart are the only things keeping television alive and well (of course PBS).

  • Natalie

    Wasnt funny and I felt cheated. The part about the baby Jesus…full of it…I wouldnt make a shrine but I would pray for him…

  • Harriet

    Loved these stories and love Colbert.

  • Laurie

    He is ultimately “French.” The Normans of Normandy France invaded Ireland in 1169. They were pretty well assimilated into the Irish population by the 14th century, but you can tell their descendents by their surnames – Colbert, Barrett, Palmer, Stapleton, etc. Stephen pronounces it in the French manner affectatiously for the most part, because French sounds more posh.

    (PS Jackie Kennedy was more Irish than French, but she hid that, for the same reasons.)

  • Laurie

    There are other comics who people are fans of and who are admired greatly, but Stephen is set apart in that people LOVE him. He’s probably one of the most beloved people in America.

  • virginia holder

    My grandmother Eugenia MacDonough McEvoy emigrated from Roscommon, Ireland in late 1880s. They were bound for Boston and sea storms redirected the boat to two port only to be turned away. Savannah, Ga. accepted them and I have grown up with stories of poverty, abandonment and classmate Flannery O’Connor, neighbor Johnny Mercer and others less well known. A friend and I traveled to Ireland in 2000 and I found it almost mystical. A Roscommon hotel bartender drank a toast to us,the McEvoy and Macdonough clans over a glass of Jameson whiskey. I ,too, was raised with the wakes of my Irish grandmother, aunts and uncle. A strange alienation endured amongst them, with great geographic distances and in communication with one another. All have passed away and now a few cousins have made the effort to stay in communication with one another. Most are still in the southern US.

  • Darlene Leyba

    I like Stephen Colbert……..but maybe he will be able to find out where that “gleepy” right ear of his came from!!

  • Shahrzad

    Yes, I love the REAL him!

    Honestly, I’m getting tired of the shtick, unless it’s reruns of the White House Correspondent’s dinner.

  • Tim

    Stephen Colbert is the man. He eclipsed John Stewart on Comedy Central and I was a Daily Show fan before Stewart was even on it. Why does he have a fanatical following? It’s there because he is just that good. His comedy and nature is an inspiration. With committed fans he’s raised money for charity, successfully helped sponsor the speed skating team, and does all of this while keeping his fans laughing. I’m always amazed at the people who he’ll have on his show that just don’t get it. You can tell that there are people that think he’s going to conduct a serious interview whether its on the set or out in the field, and many of these were Congressmen during the days of “Better Know A District.” They don’t realize that the joke is on them and that makes it all the better. Does real content get discussed on the show. Yes. Is there always humor there as well. Definitely.

  • Joan’Ruth

    Thank you’s 4 Awe’ll Best B4 US! Please know that I Love You so! Everything my time’s Good 4 is chasing Rainbows Like You! Over you my thoughts turn golden,; Over you my heart finds home; Over you my fears find healing…over and over and over again. A,E,I,Y,O,U…Please know that I Love you so! Thank you 4 giving my Times’pent Rainbows & Hues Like You! Couldn;t make it through these times w/out YOU keeping us singing & laughing 2gether…and Jon 2…oh…and C-SPAN, Washington Journal, etc. Real news and real Truths In Fiction 2 deal with actualities’ authorities…You sa’ve my sanity 2 share with so many struggling Others. Alone we can do so little, 2gether whee can do so much! Helen Keller…another of my heroes…OXO 4Evermore!

  • Penny

    To Jack: I must personally say “thank you” then to you and all the team at TCR. One of the “secrets” to success is to love what you do and have an incredibly cohesive environment as TCR so obviously has. Congratulations on well-deserved success! Keep it coming, please . . . .

  • Jane

    I agree — the writers on TCR are fantastic! My husband and I were just discussing how amazingly funny both The Daily Show and TCR are, night after night, whereas Saturday Night Live — with a huge cast and I’m sure a writing staff to match — has gotten to be SO lame! May you continue having fun for many years to come!

  • Pat

    Amazing!… Colbert is Amazing!! How can he be so funny …so smart….and so good looking!!!

  • Marty

    It’s so interesting to hear and see him out of his show character. Seems odd to hear him speak of family tradition as well as his true history in whole with regards to the bits and pieces he throws in during interviews on the Report. Now he’s got me wondering more of my own Irish ancestry.
    It is also revealing the USA as it truly is- an everchanging melting pot of races from around the world. I believe that if more people realized what their ancestors faced when they arrived on these shores they would be more supportive and acceptive of the poor, tired and hungry that cross our borders.

  • Miss Nell

    He had an operation on it when he was young. He can’t hear out of it.

  • Anoetos

    So odd to see him speaking seriously and not “in character”…love it.

  • J. Tibbitts

    Stephen Colbert is my father’s first cousin. My Grandmother and his Mother are sisters. It is great to see him having so much success in his life. My father and my brother will be watching tonight to see what is mentioned about our side of the family. I will have to watch the episode on the PBS site tomorrow because I don’t get this PBS unfortunately. I would just like to say to Stephen that his family in Vermont speaks of him often and we are very proud to be a part of his family tree.

  • Claudia

    He amazes me, every time I see his show I like him more,and his intellect and humor make him very very sexy.

  • Ken M

    I have just finished howling with laughter. As Dr. Gates opened the segment about the English oppression of the Irish I turned to my wife and said, “Those English could be real bastards.” Then Colbert asked, “Can I say something about that?” The truth is they really are bastards.

    Kenneth Marshall
    (O’Donnell from Donegal)

  • Donna L.

    I am of Irish descent on my mother’s side of the family, as is Stephen Colbert. Many of the names Stephen mentioned regarding his mother’s ancestry have appeared during our ancestrial search. My late father’s family is English and German, and several of the names Stephen mentioned regarding his wife’s ancestry have appeared in our search from that side of the family. What we have verifiably uncovered this far is a confirmed relationship to British and Scottish aristocracy, as well as former Irish aristocracy who were driven from their land. It would be a hilarious situation if we found out that our family was related to Stephen’s wife on once side, and to Stephen on the Irish side. This series is very well done and I have enjoyed the segment on Stephen Colbert. At this point, I am very tempted to contact Doctor Gates and have him and his staff delve into our ancestry, as the sources we have utilized have been limited as to how much information we can obtained from either side of our family.

  • J.

    That’s pretty fantastic that you and your family get to learn more about your ancestors as well on the show. Exciting!

  • Royce

    Does Jon Stewart write the jokes that are displayed in text during the show?

  • Wren

    Love Stephen Colbert. Smart, funny, sexy, all in one package.

    Ok, so is the mythical Native American princess story exclusive to us Southerners, or do those of you with long lines in other US regions have that myth, too? I remember my mother telling me that one, and me thinking, “Yeah, right. Tell me another one.”

    Would love to see Gates do a companion show about how they did the research. He makes it look so easy, and anyone who does genealogy knows it is not easy at all to find those primary sources and documents. It’s especially difficult when you starting digging through documents in a different language or have to decipher unusual naming customs. Sure, there are a lot of on-line databases, but they often have MANY errors that keep getting repeated by people who don’t want to verify the data. Even some primary sources have errors. My grandmother’s death certificate lists her daughter as her mother!

  • Erin

    THANK You, PBS,Thank YOU, Mr. Gates, and THANK YOU, Stephen…Stephen, your story has made me both recognize myself and laugh…I had not realized that my feelings towards the English were indeed part of being Irish in America…The only negative story told was by my paternal grandmother-who though born in England, was indeed Irish…She told of while a young elementary student in Liverpool, when hearing God Save the Queen (?) in school, both she and her sister would turn their backs (in protest)…And, I do share personally that when I initially found that my husband’s ancestors were from Northern Ireland, I was delighted…THEN, many years after our marriage when I found out they were Scotch-Irish-I would tease “your family were tools of the English, used to oppress my people.” Again, THANK YOU to all who created this series and shared their story.

  • Maura Garin

    I’m not just a Colbert National, I’m a long-lost cousin !!! Michael Garin was my great-grandfather, and lived in Veroqua, Wisconsin. There are Garins in Michigan, Ohio, North Carolina, St. Louis and I’m the lone Californian. If we’re not related to the same Michael Garin, we’re related to someone who is !!!

    Hey Stephen – Love your “truthiness.”

  • J. Tibbitts

    I know I can’t wait to watch it!

  • Remedios

    Excuse me… Stephen Colbert is great, but nobody eclipses my beloved Jon Stewart! :)

  • Hugh Brian O’Neill

    Stephen – learning about your Irish roots was an unexpected surprise. I left wanting to know more. FACES of AMERICA did a great job digging. Loved the article about the British goods. I’m biased – my Dad is from the same area around Tyrone – an Irish Catholic who was treated like a second-class citizen back just back in the 30s. That’s why he flew to freedom here.

  • Bob Diamond

    I really enjoyed the Stephen Colbert episode.

    There are a couple of things Stephen should know though. The reference to “Went West” on the Irish tombstones concerns the old Irish belief that the dead travel to the after world by traveling over the western sea from Ireland to the Western Land. “Went West” means that the deceased has gone to heaven.

    Also, the discussion about the transporting of the Irish to Canada in returning ships is even crasser than Stephen thought. Ireland did receive imports from Canada but had little going back. You can’t sail a transport ship with nothing in the hold. The ship would ride too high, would be top heavy, and subject to capsizing. Captains used to buy tons of ballast stones in Ireland for the return trip. Starving Irish men and women leaving their homes were free The captain didn’t have to buy ballast. The Irish men, women, and children came free (or may have had their passage paid for). A win-win for the ship owner.

    Finally, the reason why Ireland was a net food exporting nation was that the farm rents were paid in food (wheat, oats, barley, butter etc.). None of these were affected by the potato blight. All the time they were starving, the Irish were growing food they weren’t allowed to eat so they could pay their rent. If they didn’t, they were evicted from their farms (or had there homes torn down on top of them) and their farms turned into sheep grazing meadows. The free market in operation.

    (See: The Western Land: Afterlife Beliefs In Ancient Irish Paganism by James Bonwick; The Great Hunger: Ireland 1845-1849 by Cecil Woodham-Smith; The Famine Ships: The Irish Exodus to America, 1846-51by Edward Laxton; and The Damnable Question : A Study in Anglo-Irish Relations by George Dangerfield)


  • Claire Weber

    Stephen Colbert and the genealogy thereof?! Funny in and of itself! He knows who we all come from…Adam and Eve, of course…end of discussion! lol

  • Lisa Robinsn

    Stephen is just truly sublime. What a beautiful, warm, engaging man he is! I’m actually English and went over to America last November to see him & when I met him he was very kind, generous & gracious towards me, so hopefully he doesn’t still ‘hate the English’!!! LOL!!! Noticed his great grandmother was Judy Dunn, wonder if he’s related to my ex partner who is a Dunn. Heck, we could’ve almost been related my marriage! Oh, how I wish!!!
    Stephen, please come to the UK and let us soothe those raw wounds, you are very loved over here (certainly by me!!!)

  • Bridget Ford

    I was just wondering if that was the same Michael Garin from Viroqua, WI. I’m related to him too.

  • Ann Ellen

    Stephen, aside from the fact you (col)bert a strong resemblance to my oncologist, Dr David August (CINJ…New Brunswick)…I’ve loved you from the git go. Totally adored your benefit for the Two Rivers Theatre in Red Bank. If I have survived living in these US of A’s …it is because you kept me “sane”. Thanks…merci beaucoup!

  • Diane

    Thank you for that information. Very interesting…I’m of French desent (Bergeron),

  • Larry Clum

    Welcome to the Leatherman Clan. As a geneologist of this Early American Family line, I almost fell out of my chair when the good Dr. showed your connection to Hans Diebold Ledermann. We would probably be about 5th cousins. I knew there was something about you I liked. If you want to look at some of the Leathermans and look at the notes on them, go to and find my “LEATHERMAN LINE” tree. Thirty-five years of work BEFORE the advent of the internet plus what our cousins today have added. A proud and honored line.
    Larry Clum
    Maize, KS

  • Brenda Graham

    One thing Stephen Colbert and I have in common are my ancestors immigrated to Canada from Alsace Lorraine, Germany in the 1800’s. They grew tired of the fighting back and forth between Germany and France so they moved to Port Colbourne Ontario in Canada and became wealthy German farmers. Beiderman were their names and they were protesants too(Lithuaniun).

  • Liz

    I too have the Alsace Lorraine territory in common with Stephen. I got so excited when they started mentioning that area! My ancestor (Reinhardt Laubach) emmigrated to Pennsylvania in the 1600’s. Perhaps our families knew each other? what a wonderful thought. I really am enjoying the series so far. What i wouldnt give for Dr. Gates to delve into my family tree (its hard work!)

    Liz Owens
    New Jersey

  • Dave Segura

    Interesting. Stephen’s story about his fathers side of his family sounds mirror to my mother’s side of my family. She was a Colbert who migrated West from Oklahoma during the dust bowl. My Grandfather, Robert Colbert, never admitted his Indian heritage until near the end of his life. For years this had been a huge family secret and is a direct result of President Andrew Jackson’s Indian Removal act. From early on, a few Colbert ancestors intermarried with native tribes (Chickasaw and Choctaw). Many subsequently became wealthy landowners. As time went on, land-hungry all white settlers wanted this land. Mixed-race people who looked too Native American lost their land with little or no compensation — hence “the secret.” I’ve done quite a bit of research on “Colbert.” As far as I can tell, the line may originate from Vikings who settled parts of Scotland and Ireland in the 9th century. A few went to early France as mercenaries. My Colbert Ancestor arrived in Virginia around 1640-1650.

  • Doris Parker

    I was really surprised tonight to find out that someone had attached this information to my family tree on I am also a descendent of Hans Diebold Lederman (Leatherman) on my dad’s side. It is really amazing the things that I have learned in researching my family tree on my mother’s and dads side as well as on my husbands side of the family. The biggest surprise I found was to find that my husband and I share a set of ever so great grandparents thereby making my husband and me eighth cousins one time removed on our mothers side.

    Hans came to America on the Ship, James Goodwill in 1727. Captain of the ship was Davy Crockett.

    My tree is Parker Family Tree

  • Patrick J.Danford

    Great show
    This Limerick Lad is PROUD thank PBS and Stephen Colbert for saying what he did about English GREED.
    Taking Tuns of Food to England and STARVING the Irish and multplying this by all the Countries in the British Empire England will never be forgiven and the Orange Order of Freemasons in N. Ireland who have Straved Catholick for 800 years and Controle America Look inside Washington Monument and see who Built it and Look at the Orange Order Of Freemasons marchong season in America at the Saint Patricks Day Parade where the Orange Order of Shriners have be in for years in America.
    In Ireland they kill Catholics and in America they are in a Saints Parade.
    If you want to see Anger in America and the violation of Free Speech as the question about Freemasons in Parade, Have a Camera redy to record the ANGER and your Arrest by Freemason Police

  • Katherine

    Crazy, but I have an ancestor that came from the same village in Alsace, and also ended up settling in the same part of Pennsylvania. Really cool to know that my ancestors were neighbors to his ancestors!

  • Gail Gardiner

    I found the research of Mr. Colbert’s Irish roots by Mr. Gates extremely interesting. My Murphy family came from Cork via the ballast lumber ships that returned to St. John, New Brunswick. This is the first time I have heard of any records regarding the empty lumber boat migrations. Wonderful series. Thank you for sharing.

  • Tosatel

    As a practicing Lutheran I resent the inclusion of Colbert’s comment calling Lutherans “heretics”.

    This program bears no resemblance to real genealogical scholarship.

  • Tosatel

    I wouldn’t presume to instruct Colbert or any of us Claire regarding where we come from. Your statement is pure opinion.

  • Tosatel

    Having two strong Scots-Irish lines I resent your comment Erin.

    Stop bashing the English as well please. Every nationality has drawbacks and pluses.

    Nine tenths of my ancestry is Colonial English and I’m as proud of it as you are of your Irish roots.

  • Tosatel

    Ken posted:

    “Those English could be real bastards.” Then Colbert asked, “Can I say something about that?” The truth is they really are bastards.”


    You happen to have an English surname. Marshall is one thing only: ENGLISH

    I’m nearly 100% English by heritage with a bit of Scots-Irish thrown in. I resent you calling my ancestors bastards as much as you’d resent several choice words I could use to describe your Irish background.

    However, as a gentleman, I’ll refrain.

  • Tosatel

    Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (née Bouvier) was also English through her father’s Sargent line.

  • EC barton

    Thank you so much for your note,about the irish starving,and the English tranporting their food out of the country.This happening does not appear often,since much of Irish history is written by the Englsh.On St Patricks day every year,I tell my grandchildren a story about Irish History.This year I will tell them this one.My mother,who was born in County Clare in 1903,often told storiesabout the potato famine,and how the english robbed them of food,andwatched them starve to death.I WILL TRY TO BUY THE BOOK YOU MENTIONED,AND READMORE ABOUT THIS TERRIBLE TIME.THanks again Betty b

  • Tuckey

    Nice comments. Alas I see no “John Tuck” that i recall hearing briefly in the program. I was curious to hear about this line for (semi)obvious reasons, given the frequency of surname variants. I would be quite happy to share a relation with Dr. Stephen Colbert D.F.A.

  • ZKWC

    Wow, Stephen being serious. It took me so long to figure it out, then I realized this was PBS. So I had to review the clips all over again.

    Proud Member of the Colbert Nation! Shall I chant too? Does PBS allow chanting? I’ll refrain.

  • Tosatel

    I’m curious why Gates has yet to research Colbert’s own surname. It is French. I’d be interested to know if is Acadian or European French in origin.

  • Rodeo Joe

    We are all one very big family.
    Genetics prove it. Disfunctional, yes, but family nonetheless

  • Giani

    Colbert is also an Irish name (pronounced Cole-Bert.)

    Like Conn Colbert, Wayne Colbert, etc.

  • Tosatel

    I didn’t know that Giani. Thanks.

    Do you suppose it has its roots in the Norman Conquest of 1066. Much like the Irish surname Devereaux it appears like it may well.

  • aliama

    I’m also Lutheran, but as a regular watcher of “The Colbert Report” I recognize that statement as a joke. Stephen Colbert’s alter-ego on his show is this hyper-patriotic, conservative, ultra-Catholic guy who would make statements like –Protestants are going to Hell for their apostasy– etc, but it’s all in jest. You should check out his statements at the Emmy’s where he denounced the Hollywood audience as,” Godless Sodomites.” His humor may not be for everyone, but for the it-getters, he’s hilarious..

  • Cathy Cadd

    It was interesting to watch and learn that Stephen and my husband are distant cousins. They both share a common ancestor, Hans Peter Ledermann born in 1711. It really is true that we are all connected. Stephen, how about coming to our 4th of July party. Doesnt get more American then that?
    How can I get copies of those original documents that were given to Stephen?

    Love this show.

  • Kris

    Touchy! I think Claire was joking along the lines of what Colbert the character would say. After all he mentions time and again how the world is only 6,000 years old and so forth. I think he would appreciate Clair’s homage. Hey, Tosatel, George Bush: Great President or Greatest President?

  • Kris

    Tosatel, you seem very uncomfertable with the Irish people’s opinion of the English. I can understand that but being mostly Irish myself it seems as though there is something you are not understanding about the Irish. It doesn’t matter how many years it has been (and honestly the fighting does continue to this day) the Irish are not likely to stop having hard feelings over the extreme injustices that occurred. Also, as Americans most people (excluding perhaps the decendants of tories) have reason to think of the English in a less than kind light. Recall the old motto “The Sun Never Sets on the British Empire”? Well, much of the world has experianced the English under less that happy circumstances. You would think that being mostly English plus Scots-Irish plus American you would have an appreciation for the feelings of oppressed people. After all who has oppressed as many people as the English? I would wager America is a pretty close second.

  • Penny

    Toasted: I’m both Irish and English. Ken didn’t give you a personal insult , but history is history. And, it wasn’t so much the everyday Brit – but the powers that were – not only let millions of Irish starve and be forced to flee their homeland. And the American government never supported the Irish, which I could never understand due to the amazing amount of Irish in America. What the British did to the Irish was never really dealt with in American history books. They didn’t just stand by and watch as people starved to death, but they denied them the right to fish – and they actually took food & livestock out of Ireland under the guard of the British army. The in addition to the starvation and diaspora, the Brits outlawed the Irish language and were physically and mentally abusive to the Irish. There’ s really no other way to say it other than how Colbert & Ken said it – good governments don’t occupy foreign countries and abusive the citizens of those countries. And it’s 600 yrs and counting.

  • Penny

    PS – I don’t know Ken and didnt’ come on here to defend him or accuse the British. Just to find out more about the wonderful and talented Colbert and his Irish roots.

  • Tosatel


    Nah, I didn’t read it as a joke. I read it as proselythizing.

    Why you ask my opinion of George Bush (which one do you mean?) is beyond me. But since you’ve asked I think the most recent one didn’t have the intelligence to come out of the wet weather. Just because someone has generational American heritage neither makes them better or worse or more intelligent of more culpable than ANYONE else.

    This isn’t a club you know. We clear now?

    You mistake me my dear.

  • Tosatel

    If it was a joke aliama I didn’t find it amusing.

    He said at one point during the interview (paraphrase) “I grew up knowing I was from the best America had to offer. We were middle class, we were Roman Catholic, and we were Irish. HUH?

    I liked Colbert (and I am in sync with his politics still) until this interview.

  • Tosatel

    The picture you paint isn’t as black and white as you’d have me believe Penny and you know it.

    And beyond that the treatment of the Irish by SOME “Brits” isn’t the topic of this thread. We’re talking about these United States.

    But since you’ve brought it up:

    Your desription of what the Irish went through was not exclusive to them. The Scottish were similarly treated centuries before. But the bottom line here is were it not for the “Brits” (read English) which you seem so quick to vilify we’d not have our foundational governing principles. Recall – those loosely called “The Founding Fathers” did much to allow you and me to enjoy the privileges we do in this land. And those men were pretty much entirely English by ancestry.

    Take a good hard look at what’s going on for in-fighting in Iraq between the Shiites and the Sunnis and you’ll get a rough idea that the phenomenon you describe above is not exclusive to any one nationality. Invariably it’s based in the “my God it better than you God” theory. And it’s preposterous.

    God knows it was (is) in Northern Ireland to this day.

  • Tosatel

    PS – I found his German ancestry far more riveting.

  • Colette Bliss

    Stephen gave me a flash of memory. Our family used to put pieces of straw in the manger of the baby Jesus during advent. One piece each day for each of us kids then my little brother, the youngest, put the baby in the manger on Christmas Eve. My brother is gone now and I have not thought of that for over 30 years. That tradition would have come from my German side of the family. Thanks Stephen for that memory of my brother and our family all together.

  • Nathalie

    I descend from the other ‘negroes’ of north armerica the Irish and the French. Take your pick – both have been called that at some point in history. As for my Irish twig of my tree, I do remember reading that post the summer of ‘48, some member of the English government were dumbstruck that potatoes had been planted in Eire once again, over other some other crop. Can anyone shed light on why potatoes were chosen a second time? Needless to say, the Brits did not see the Irish as willing to help themselves in this particular reference. (Now don’t be shooting the messenger! I am far enough removed to be able to want see both angles of their conflict.)
    I never saw this series (Malcolm Gladwell? Really?) , but I remember Mr. Colbert making reference to having a Canadian great-grandfather during his “Canadians are ice-holes” segments vis-a-vis the Olympics, thereby giving him liscence to poke fun at the Canucks.
    Which of course is legitimate, it’s what we do best! LOL! But he has a secret weapon-two of his staffers are Canadians. Which explains why his jokes are right on the(CrappyTire) money! He always looked Black Irish to me-I know, I know, takes one to know one!
    I am looking forward to the US version of WDYTYA to learn about Brooke Shields’ link to Louis XIV!
    PS Les Acadiens were of European descent.

  • Marguerite

    After getting the results back from the cheek swab test kit through, I’m proud to say that I share an ancient ancestor with Stephen—we belong to the mitochondrial DNA group- Haplogroup K.

    We both descend from the “Ice Immigrants” who were first hunter gatherers, but our most recent common ancestor, is the 5,300 year old man who was discovered in the snowy Alps near the Austrian-Italian border in 1991. Scientists named him Otzi.

    How cool is that!?

  • Laura

    Luther was a “heretic” as it is defined as “a dissenter from established church dogma”. The established Church of Luther’s time was the Roman Catholic Church and its dogma. Colbert’s winks at this history.

  • Cranleigh

    Well, I’m sure the Lutheran connection was surprising to him. I admire anyone who went on this show – they were all risking a big jolt to their cherished ideas about themselves and the stories passed down through the family.

    Over a quarter of Irish names are Norman and English e.g. many of the names starting with D like Darcy and Delaney as well as Burke (de Burgo), Joyce and all the Fitz names except Fitzpatrick. Our most famous slain patriot, Patrick Pearse, had an English father and our longest serving Prime Minister, Eamon De Valera, had a Spanish-American father. Many of our greatest writers were of English origin – Swift, Yeats, Beckett, Shaw, Wilde. Edmund Burke was of mixed origin but let’s be clear that Arthur Guinness became Protestant purely for convenience. Scots-Irish are ethnically Lowland Scots to a large extent.

    I’m afraid I know Lutherans only from Garrison Keillor, one charming colleague and some German-American relatives by marriage who take a very dim view of us Catholics and our Popish cult and even made our relative change teams. One of their number insists that nearly everything thought to be Irish is in fact German, even Danny Boy. I wish The Londonderry Air HAD been written by a German – the fact that an Englishman came up with the words (but not the music) is even worse, after all – but all our efforts have failed on this front. Why the member of a tribe that produced Bach, Beethoven etc. etc. and, in Germany and America, much of the world’s technological advances, would want to claim another country’s little folk song is beyond me. And I know there is at least an equal number of Irish Catholic eejits too. BTW was that perfectly odious German-American cartoonist Nast a Lutheran or Reformed or something else?

  • Cranleigh

    I forgot St. Patrick – a Briton – and one of our greatest heroes of recent years, Jackie Charlton – English, i’m afraid.

  • Larry Clum

    That fight across the Rhine was going on when my Leathermans (Ledermann) decided to come to America in 1718. A combination of religious persecution, the Germans sending Swedish mercenaries to burn them out and the “little ice age” that devistated Europe at that time. The Germans that came to both Canada and America played a major role in settling both countries, teaching the good old German work ethic and providing a basic moral base both countries accepted for generations.

  • Pauline

    Wow! Wow! Thanks for this piece of information. You know I watched the show & when he talked about the man who was making a business out of shipping out poor people, I thought, pure capitalism would celebrate this. It would be considered innovative, entrepreneurial, i.e., American. Free-market indeed…And I think today, we are asking: “where do we draw the line?”. There has to be a line otherwise people are going suffer for it & we’ll end up a nation as we say in French: “sans scrupules”, without regards for the poor, the disaffected when some of our ancestors were just that.

    I could see how upset Stephen was when it was all described to him during the show. And this happened 350 years ago…and after the Irish assimilated into the culture & after he married a woman descendant of the English! And for Native Americans, oppression had happened even earlier but still the wounds are there. So it’s almost unrealistic to say that African-Americans should “get over” racial injustices overcome only less than 50 years by the legal system. That’s too recent of a history; I mean our grandparents who lived through that are still alive. There’s been progress & we should celebrate that & ALL strive to deal with the wounds in a healthy way but to expect a people not to remember & “move on”, that’s just not realistic. It’s what we hope for & work towards in good faith but “time heals wounds” eventually…

  • Pauline

    ha ha ha, “someone” obviously doesn’t watch and/or understand Colbert! Good one!
    Touchy indeed, lol!

  • Donna Barron

    I see you are Choctaw. My family is from south Missouri and Louisiana. We have documented our Choctaw genealogy but I’m always sad that when I visit the family homeplace area in N. Louisiana, I can’t find out where the Choctaw were displaced?

    My mother was dark haired, blued slanted eyes and very high cheekbones…she also had larger lips than others of her era (which caused some unappreciated comments from her peers). She was truly beautiful as her white and Indian heritage worked so well together . She always supported the Indian causes and was very sensitive to their continuing cruel treatment.

    Where might I find The Choctaw Indians?

    Thank you,

  • Donna Barron

    The Irishman got it right. The English were real Bastard’s back then!

  • fenian7

    Potatoes were planted again because they were the only economically viable crop available to the Irish farmers. They had small plots on poor land and potatoes were the only crop which could feed their families under such circumstances. Perhaps the members of the British government were dumbfounded because they thought the Irish had a legitimate choice with respect to crop planting. Or, more likely, they were seeking to exculpate themselves from their responsibility for establishing economic conditions under which 1 million people died of starvation.

  • fenian7

    Jackie Charlton is no great Irish hero. The players were. Roy Keane, Paul McGrath, and Ray Houghton in particular. Come On You Boys in Green!

  • fenian7

    Your apologist routine for the British Empire is tiresome. Claiming colonial oppression isn’t exclusive to Anglo-Irish history does not mitigate the dismal British record in Ireland n any way.

  • fenian7

    Wow! English resentment towards the Irish. I can really empathize with your deep sense of historical grievance.

  • kc

    Tosatel is nearly 100% something, however, as a gentleman, I’ll refrain from it’s name. The Brits have never stopped being a class based society. To this day there is an ingrained class prejudice that would account for their checkered history of pomp and circumstance of bastadness.

  • kc

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  • kc

    Freemasons, they’re all alike.

  • kc

    We will miss your wit. Beck’s audience has some interesting subjects.

  • kc

    And let’s not forget those damn Freemasons spoken of earlier.

  • Linda D-W

    I too share the same Maternal DNA (mtDNA) as Steven Colbert, so that means we have a common grandmother. I just don’t know which one it is. We’re Haplogroup K1, btw.

    Also K1 is Katie Couric of CBS.

    I can’t make the link work to see Steven here. I did see the PBS show the night it came on Summer 2010.

    Does anybody know where one can actually view the “tree” of Mr. Colbert? One that shows who whi grandmothers family was.

    I thought I heard Louis Gates tell him his maternal side was French Hugunots. Is that right? I’ve also read that us K1’s came from the area around the border between France and Germany and the German Palatinate
    If anybody knows where I can view his tree, please let me know. Thanks

  • Angela

    An excellent series, I thoroughly enjoyed watching this when it was on. Of course, all the stories were fascinating, but I loved Stephen’s-big fan of him, was fun to hear a bit about his history. I have German (mostly German), French, and Irish ancestry, and my family came from Alsace Lorraine, too, as I’ve heard it, so I’m curious to see if there’s any connection there, too. If I ever get to delve deeper into my ancestry (and I’d love to have Prof. Gates do it, he seems to know just where to look), I’d be interested to see the results.

    I love his character, he’s brilliant at it, but I agree, it’s always fun to see him out of that role, when he’s just his normal, everyday self. He seems like an incredibly intelligent, sweet, down-to-earth guy, and I admire that. It’s refreshing to see there’s public figures with those traits still out there.

    (Also, I was raised Lutheran and laughed at his “swipes” at the faith. Me thinks some people might want to lighten up a little bit)

  • zach

    F the English.

    This is the common sentiment of all of Brits not English…Ive met Scottish/Welsh and Irish…always the same.

  • ukthy

    Spanish blood, too?

    “The majority of people in the British Isles are actually descended from the Spanish.”

    The discovery, by Bryan Sykes, professor of human genetics at Oxford University, will herald a change in scientific understanding of Britishness.

  • Kris

    Tosatel, it’s been awhile! Just had to comment about your comment: “If it was a joke… I didn’t find it amusing.” It puts a smile on my face. Let’s face it, you don’t seem to find any of this amusing. Which is why it amazes me that you continue to bother. When I go on a message board and am in general disagreement with what everyone is saying, I might leave one message just to put a counter opinion out there but otherwise I just stop reading if it offends me. From what you continue to say just about everything offends you. So, why stay? Let us have our fun and ignore it.

  • Kris

    Tosatel- Not my mistake but yours “my dear”. First of all, you really thought Clair was “proselythizing”? I guess you must feel people are very easily converted… it only takes two sentences. Second, now I know for a fact that there is no way you are understanding the satire of Colbert and I have a feeling you might hate him if you understood that HE MEANS THE OPPOSITE OF EVERYTHING HE SAYS! I’m serious now, Colbert does not think that republicans are great or that bears are Godless killing machines (well, maybe that one). Anyway, it doesn’t matter as you outed yourself as a non-Colbert Nation member by asking about Bush. For years Colbert asked the question that I asked you of his guests… It was a joke. I know, I know, you don’t “see” humor much like Colbert doesn’t see race. I will pray for a cure.

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  • laura

    Love Stephen and his show. But I missed this PBS. Is there any place it can still be viewed?

  • Matt Holden

    I am a second cousin of Stephen living in Alton, IL. I guess I finally know why I am such the smart a..

  • Nathalie

    Hello, the English as we know them today are roman descendant. They come from Italia because of Julius Cesar. They believe in creation. They used to spy other nations in order to destroy their society and get the best things out of it. This is why people do not like them. People suspected Jack the Ripper was the Queen’s doctor. They wrote books and created universities with all the knowledge they cumulated over time. I am not sure but I think universities were created to train the advisors of all kings of the world in order to do what the Vatican wanted them to do. The real kingdom is the vatican. In fact the popes were telling other kings with kingdom to attack and recognise or not the new comming king wether or not this new king was from their society.

  • Nathalie

    I think Louis XIV had italian origins. I do not know where in this line italians appeared but for sure it is not purely french. He sent the french to wars that were lost in advance.
    Renaissance was the renaissance of the Italian art, nation etc. When a change of period occured, there was also a change in politics. Art is the reflexion of the tastes, of the discoveries and thechnology and tools used at a certain period of time. Under Louis XIV there was a big change in the style of the furniture. Wich companies were dealing with the king at that time and how they change over time.. . I am very curius to know.

  • Nathalie

    Hello, I do not think knowing your origins with genetic tools is a good way to find out as you know that first of all it can creates distances between peoples and it reminds me that some religius community whant to be pure and distinguish them selves officially with genetic. I think it is a first step before going to war with official listings.

  • Nathalie


    In the television programm, I did not heard properly were all the food was going during the starvation period. What was France and Spain doing in that story? Where was all the food going?

    Also, I did not understood properly if this desease was created by the British to get the catholic Irish off their land or was the starvation a good occasion to send them away.

    Can someone answer?

    Thank you


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  • sharon

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  • Steph


  • sharon

    I like the suggestion of a companion show detailing the research; and you are exactly right about the difficulty of primary research and about the MANY on-line errors that proliferate because people who don’t take the time to research for themselves just incorporate the errors into their own family trees.

    My Iowan grandfather, whose roots go back to Jamestowne and the first planters in MD, as well as Rhode Island, New Jersey and Long Island in the 1620s-30s, also had an Native American princess story. Around 1910, his mother told him and several of his siblings that they had a native American ancestress on her side; with the caveat that they were never to tell their father, because he “hated Indians”.

    I have no idea where he developed this prejudice, as his maternal uncle returned from the Civil War to move to Montana, where he became an extremely successful businessman in Ft. Benton. There, he married a woman who belonged to the Blackfoot Indian Tribe through her mother, so my great-grandfather’s cousins were one-quarter Blackfoot.

    My grandfather stated that he had seen a picture of his Native American ancestress when visiting relatives in Idaho, on his mothers side. I’ve thought about having the DNA testing and am very curious about which line the Native American line would have entered on. My great-grandmother did have several lines from NC who migrated to Iowa; and I’ve wondered if the Native line might have come from the East Coast, rather than the Iowa or Sioux tribes that my grandfather had always surmised.

    The stories of mankind’s migration throughout the world and throughout this country are amazing; and I’m continually awed at the unbelievable routes our ancestors traveled to come together, from which we have life.

  • Sharon


    I’ve documented your Parker Family Tree site, as I also have a Parker line. The family tradition is that it is through Captain John Parker of Lexington/Concord, but that is as yet unverified. I’m gradually researching the various Parker lines.

    A David Crockett was indeed captain of the “James Goodwill” in 1727, but it wasn’t the famed David “Davy” Crockett, who was born in 1786 in eastern Tennessee. The Crocketagne/Crockett family history is fascinating, from the 1600s in France, where Desaure Antoine Louis De Crocketagne served “as second in command of the Household Guards” of Louis XIV. de Crocketagne and his wife, Louise de Saix, fled France with their eldest child to avoid prosecution of the protestant Huguenot s, settling in Ireland, where their other children were born.

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  • steph

    Sadly, one of the main reasons for the potato famine was that the Irish switched from many varieties of potatoes to one variety, the “lumper”, which yielded more per acre that other varieties. It was said that an acre of potatoes provided enough calories that a family could survive, along with the milk from one cow.

    Scientists and farmers now know that genetic variation protects against loss of entire crops by pests, disease, and variations in the weather. The Irish had grown a variety of potatoes for over 200 years, when the potato was introduced from South America; but the poor in Ireland had begun to rely on just potatoes, and on just the “lumper” variety, along with one other, called the “cup”. The “lumper” was a wet potato that was not resistant to disease, and when a fungus was accidently brought to Ireland from North America and the weather turned warm and wet, the fungus thrived and the potato crop rotted in the field.

    However, not all of the potato crop was destroyed, and the records state that most people made it though the winter. In the spring of 1846, the remaining potatoes appeared to be good, so the farmers planted them. Because they harbored a dormant strain of the fungus, the whole crop failed once the rains came.

    The records also state that there was plenty of food grown for export to England that year, but it was more expensive that the impoverished Irish could afford. They sold off everything not nailed down to buy food, including their tools. They ate the food that had been grown to pay the rent, so they were evicted by their landlords. When spring of 1847 arrived, they had no tools, no land and nothing to plant. During the famine years, around 1 Million died, and 1 Million emigrated to England, America, Canada and other countries. The population by the 20th century was approx. 4 Million, or half of the number of Irish population before the famine years.

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