PLAYBOY: Who’s your ideal guest?
COLBERT: We want someone who represents something, who feels strongly about what they’re talking about and will allow for a little dramatic friction. The most disappointing guest is somebody who won’t be their personality.
PLAYBOY: What does that mean? How can you not be your personality?
COLBERT: Take Mr. Bill O’Reilly. He was a perfectly lovely guest, but he wouldn’t be his personality. He wouldn’t be the guy he is on his show. And I don’t know why. I went on his show, and I was my personality. That was our deal; I’d go on his show and he’d come on mine. But he came on my show and he wasn’t his personality. He wasn’t an unpleasant person. He’s a perfectly fine guest and I have no complaints other than the fact that I booked Bill O’Reilly and I got William O’Reilly.
PLAYBOY: Did he give you any advice? Any words of wisdom from one pundit to another?
COLBERT: He said, “Watch your guest list. If you book the same kind of people over and over—Al Franken, Keith Olbermann—people notice that pattern.” I told him, “Oh, Bill, I toy with those guys. I’m slapping them around.” He said, “I know, but not everybody is watching your show as closely as I am.” I was like [clasps hands and holds them to his chest], “I’ve totally made it!” That was about five, six months into the show.