Michelle Obama on 'The Colbert Report': Did she get the best of him?

In an appearance on 'The Colbert Report,' Michelle Obama scored points for military families and her husband's presidency, while lobbing gentle zingers at Stephen Colbert.

  • close
    First lady Michelle Obama laughs with Stephen Colbert during her appearance on Comedy Central's 'The Colbert Report"' in New York.
    Kristopher Long/Comedy Central/AP
    View Caption
  • About video ads
    View Caption

First lady Michelle Obama appeared on “The Colbert Report” last night, in case you missed it by watching playoff hockey. It’s the first anniversary of her "Joining Forces" initiative to support military families, which is why faux conservative funnyman Stephen Colbert booked her. How’d she do? Comedy can be a dangerous thing, after all. Sometimes it’s best left to professionally trained forces.

We think she did fine. That would be no surprise – at this point Mrs. Obama is a seasoned guest star. She’s even been on “iCarly,” which is the “Meet the Press” of Nickelodeon tweener shows. She had no problem hitting the three goals of success for politicians appearing on basic cable:

STAY ON MESSAGE. The first lady gave a graceful speech about the importance of supporting military families. “Jill Biden and I started this initiative to make sure this country, which is a grateful nation, does whatever it can to honor our veterans and their families,” she said.

She noted that unemployment rates for veterans and military spouses are declining, but are still too high.

“These people are bringing skills that actually improve the bottom line,” she said.

Obama notably remained unfazed when Mr. Colbert said that he had served in Iraq for a week, and considered himself a veteran, “which is why I hired myself for this show.”

PLAY THE GOOD SPORT. Colbert’s character on his show is right-wingish, so he brought up that the whole "Joining Forces" thing sounded like big government, especially because its website ended with “dot gov.” Obama deflected this comment like a pro: first by denying the premise, then shifting to answer the question in the way she’d have wanted him to frame it, by saying that, yes, everybody needs to help veterans, from government to businesses big and small.

Colbert segued out of this by saying that hiring a veteran could have the added benefit of shutting people up.

“He’ll really make the inter-office complaining sound trivial,” said Colbert.

ZING BACK. You can’t let these show business-types get away with stuff, if you’re a guest. Colbert brought up the “iCarly” appearance, wondering out loud whether its teen hosts or he had more gravitas.

“That’s a tough one,” said the first lady. “Carly is 16 and she’s real deep.”

Colbert then gave Obama an opening to lord it over her husband, the leader of what used to be called The Free World, by noting that she’s the more popular of the two. Did she ever think of threatening to not campaign for him if he doesn’t do the dishes?

Sometimes, she admitted. But then she hit her campaign-approved mark.

“I am endorsing my husband, Barack Obama ... he has done a phenomenal job,” said the first lady.

Yes, yes, the shows script the flow of these appearances, but if you don’t do them every day it’s still easy to get tangled up and at the least not get out what you want, as clearly as you want it. Trust us.

And as Colbert said, Obama’s focus on military families can only mean one thing: the childhood obesity crisis (her other big issue as first lady) must be over.

“Kids, go to town on that Oreo pizza!” Colbert said.


We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.