The Colbert Nation has become the Colbert Campus, as Stephen Colbert, the Emmy award-winning comedy host, has descended upon the University of Pennsylvania's Zellerbach Theatre for the week.
Colbert arrived at Penn last weekend to begin a special filming of his show, The Colbert Report, in anticipation of the April 22 Pennsylvania primary.
Through his satirical news show, which appears on Comedy Central, Colbert has transformed the way students learn about the news - an effect noticeable at Penn.
"The show certainly helps bring people into the process," said College freshman Aaron Ross, who was in the studio audience last night.
Colbert has a "really effective" use of satire, Ross said, which enables him to "be more effective at exposing the fallacies" of the political pundits and politicians than the news media.
One news host did appear on the show last night: Chris Matthews, the host of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews and a native-Philadelphian.
Matthews, when questioned by Colbert on whether he would run for the U.S. Senate in 2010, said that being a senator was a life-long ambition, but did not say for sure whether he would run.
Matthews also inadvertently revealed that Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) would be on the show later this week.
Additionally, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and John Legend made their way on to the show, with Legend performing the Star Spangled Banner as Colbert sang at his side.
"It was hilarious" that Colbert sang with Legend, said College freshman Fernando Duran, who said the show was very entertaining.
But the enthusiasm for Colbert's show transcended the studio audience of 900.
His trip to Penn is the first time the show has ever been filmed outside of his New York City studio, and students across campus are thrilled to host the star.
"In one respect, [the show] is bringing students together," said College freshman Sabrina Benun, who attended the show's rehearsal and Q&A session earlier in the afternoon.
Duran agreed, saying that "the show [being at Penn] is something we can be proud of."
Before the actual filming, the Penn Democrats organized a special, Penn-exclusive rehearsal with Colbert, where students' applause was used for the sound check, and Colbert welcomed questions from the audience.
"It was great to see his personality," Benun said, referring to his "out-of-character" responses to the questions.
About 700 Penn students attended the rehearsal.
Lauren Burdette, the president for the Penn Dems and a College sophomore, said having Colbert on campus "feeds into the excitement of the election and hopes to get students out to vote."
Perhaps as an acknowledgement of that power, Colbert asked his audience during the show's filming who would turn out to vote if he told them to.
The crowd erupted in applause.
© 2008 Daily Pennsylvanian via U-WIRE