It came out early last week and I just got around to reading it. The entire story may be a glimpse of the person we will see hosting The Late Show next month, following in the footsteps of the great David Letterman. If it hasn't been clear up to this point, the Stephen Colbert hosting The Late Show will not be the same man who hosted The Colbert Report, the character he somehow pulled off for nine years.
This article goes into that, his tragic family history, and his deep sense of gratitude for life. Yet one piece of the interview stood out most. It was in the context of his early career in improv. He mentions that while he was at Second City he was told by the director, "You have to learn to love the bomb." Colbert explains:
“It took me a long time to really understand what that meant,” Colbert said. “It wasn't ‘Don't worry, you'll get it next time.’ It wasn't ‘Laugh it off.’ No, it means what it says. You gotta learn to love when you're failing.… The embracing of that, the discomfort of failing in front of an audience, leads you to penetrate through the fear that blinds you. Fear is the mind killer.”That is absolutely profound, isn't it? "You have to learn to love the bomb." And I really appreciate how Colbert expounds on it in a meaningful way. It's not that you brush failure off or that you cheapen it with platitudes. It's not a "pick yourself up by the bootstraps" approach. It's an actual love of the process of failing. It's being right in the thick of failing, watching the faces of people who are looking back in horror or disappointment or anger, and embracing it. And it's the love of that experience in those moments that actually conquers the fear that comes so much more naturally to us.
At another point in the article Colbert says, "The process of process is process." His point is that there is intentionality behind everything done. I also take it to mean learning and movement are just as much the goal as creating a good show. That's helpful to me because it's hard to grasp how I'll be able to understand – not in an intellectual way, but in a deep, applicable way – how to love the bomb. The process is "a long time." And perhaps, for you and me, it just means putting ourselves constantly in situations where failure is the most likely option.
It's scary even typing that. But I guess that may just be one step closer to loving the bomb.