Friday, March 10, 2006

Stephen Colbert's alternate dimension of trilingualism

Cousin Curveball mentioned that last night's Colbert Réport was "one for the record books"; I've been itching to give you some highlights, but has been feeling rather cranky for most of the day, so I was unable to blog. It finally seems to be semi-stable now, so here ya go.

First up, part 14 of Stephen's 434-part series "Better Know a District," with the 39th Congressional District. I could tell you that I'm talking about California's 39th, but since no other state has that many members of Congress, it would be redundant. The 39th is represented by Linda Sanchez, so Stephen conducted part of his interview in Spanish.

Colbert: Now, you are the first Spanish-speaking Congresswoman that I have spoken to, so I was hoping we could conduct this interview en español.

Sanchez: Claro que sí. Sure.

Colbert: What is your first responsibility as a Congresswoman?

Sanchez: La prioridad es representar a los que viven en mi dístrito, tambien votar en favor o contra de la legislación que le poner impacto a la vida. [My priority is to represent those who live in my district, also to vote for or against legislation that makes an impact in their lives.]

Colbert: Okay, I didn't catch all of that, but I heard "la vida," at the end there, and that means life. How would you say in Spanish, "I took money from Jack Abramoff"?

Sanchez: "Yo tomé dinero de Jack Abramoff."

Colbert: Why did you take money from him? (I didn't.) You just said you took money.

Sanchez: You just asked me to translate that into Spanish.

Colbert: Just 'cause you said it in Spanish, doesn't mean you didn't say it.

Sanchez: You asked me to say it.

Colbert: Did you take pesos from Jack Abramoff?

Sanchez: I've never accepted anything of value from Jack Abramoff.

Colbert: Okay, so you did it for free?

Sanchez: I've never done him any favors, either.


Colbert: El Presidente Bush: ¿el Presidente magnífico y [sic] más magnífico? [He meant to say, "El Presidente Bush: ¿un Presidente magnífico o el Presidente más magnífico?" — President Bush: great President or the greatest President?]

Sanchez: Ninguno. [Neither.]

Colbert: Sólo magnífico y más magnífico. (Terrible.) Yo pongo magnífico. Para el archivo, Chaka Fattah dijo magnífico. [Only great and greatest. (Terrible.) I'm putting great. For the record, Chaka Fattah (D–PA 2nd) said great.]
The in-studio guest last night was Lorraine Bracco, who plays Tony Soprano's psychiatrist on The Sopranos.
Colbert: I watch all of them, but only on DVD, so I'm a season behind. Your character is still alive, right? (Oui.) She hasn't been chopped up and put in a barrel or anything, has she?

Bracco: Non, pas encore. [No, not yet.]

Colbert: Mon français est très mal. (C'est vrai?) Mais je voudrais parler meilleur. (Ah, oui, c'est bien.) Je suis désolé. [My French is very badly. (Is it?) But I would like to speak better. (Ah, yes, very good.) I'm sorry.] We'll have subtitles for that later. [No, they didn't!] You are a poison on society, and I'm pulling my punches because you're a guest — you understand this? (Yes.) But this show glorifies violence. You're pouring your poison in the porches(???) of our children's ears. Defend yourself — defend Hollywood.

Bracco: I happen to think it's really important that The Sopranos is on the air and shows violence the way that it is. I think it's much better to see violence for violence in a real, horrible, despicable way than it is —

Colbert: So you think it's accurate. (Yes, I do.) So you believe that Italian-Americans are mafiosos? That's the message.

Bracco: Oh, absolutely! They keep telling me, you know, if you're an Italian-American, you must be in the Mafia, and I keep saying, yes, yes, I give up, yes.

Colbert: How many men have you killed?

Bracco: Well, I remember him in France, that was a big one, and a couple in Brooklyn....

Colbert: You lived in France?

Bracco: Oui, cheri. [Yes, darling.]

Colbert: I'm out of vocabulary. (C'est vrai? [Really?]) I stopped studying in 10th grade. (Monsieur Colbert, j'ai pensé que tu parles mieux! [Mr. Colbert, I thought you spoke better!]) Now, that's just sexy. It doesn't mean anything to me; you might as well be speaking to a dog right now. It's all just tone, okay. Insult me in French.

Bracco: Non, je ne veux pas. [No, I don't want to.]

Colbert: That could've been an insult, I don't know, but it sounded nice. ...
Then Stephen rattled off his brothers and sisters: Jimmy, Eddy, Mary, Billy, Margaret, Tommy, Jay, Luke, Peter, Paul, and Stephen. [I think I got that right!]

So now you know the bits of last night's show that didn't make it into the closed captions.

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