"Kids can't understand irony or sarcasm, and I don't want them to perceive me as insincere," he tells Safer, in an interview will be broadcast this Sunday, April 30 at 7 p.m. ET/PT. "Because one night, I'll be putting them to bed and I'll say ... 'I love you honey.' And they'll say, 'I get it. Very dry, Dad. That's good stuff,'" jokes Colbert.
His penchant for goofiness began in childhood after a profound family tragedy — a commercial plane crash in 1974. "My father and two of my brothers died when I was 10, and I think I did my best to cheer mom up," Colbert tells Safer. "After they died, nothing seemed that important to me. ... I would certainly say I was detached from what was normal behavior of children around me. It didn't make much sense. None of it seemed very important," Colbert remembers.
His urge to mock virtually anything has continued into adulthood. "Acceptance, or blind acceptance — of authority is not easy for me," says Colbert. Nothing is sacred — not religion, nor the media, nor politicians.
Explaining some of his methods, he tells Safer, "Volume is very important. The only real way to tell your audience what's important is what you say loudest. I can say it up here," he loudly intones, "or I could say it down here," he says. Then slipping into character, he demonstrates for Safer. "I will cut off your mic, sir," he yells. "Shut up! Shut up Safer!"