There are few public figures who have the sort of charisma and wily charm of Stephen Colbert. Although he’s achieved fame with his satirical on-air persona on The Colbert Report —a character whose political orientation could only be described as bigoted and small-minded to the point of absurdity— in real life, Colbert is an incredibly generous philanthropist who has given liberally to charity.
Colbert has hosted high-profile charity events for Amnesty International, a worldwide organization which advocates for human rights for people all over the world. Colbert has also donated to Autism Speaks, which is an organization that funds Autism research, and seeks to find the best preventative measures and potential cures.
In the past Colbert has also used his show as a direct vehicle for generating charity funds. For example, he once made a deal with Microsoft, wherein they would donate $2,500 to Colbert’s relief fund for the BP oil spill (sardonically titled the Colbert Nation Gulf of America Fund) every time that Colbert said “Bing” on the air – and ultimately, Colbert said “Bing” 40 times.
Colbert also once generated charity funds through ebay by selling a portrait that was used as a prop from the Colbert Report. The prop was a sort of recursive image, featuring a portrait of the celebrity standing alongside another self portrait.
He’s an immense presence in popular culture. Not only is he enormously popular because of his work in television, but he’s also established himself as important presence online. Data from social media buzz tracking company Viral Heat shows that Colbert is extremely popular on social media across viewers in multiple age groups, which means that he is a member of the media with tremendous influence (see the Colbert Bump). He actively uses his 7-million-follower Twitter account to promote the causes, and charities, he champions:
TONIGHT: Celebrities give back to the community. And, surprise, it's not court-ordered. @ColbertReport, 11:30 p.m.— Stephen Colbert (@StephenAtHome) August 8, 2013
Although he’s celebrated for his provocative humor and quippy social commentary, Colbert should also receive due recognition as a humanist, having consistently used his celebrity status to boost awareness of pertinent social issues.
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