Steven Colbert plays a pointed dance on the funny-bone, but misled his “nation” unintentionally at least once last night in the segment “Who’s Not Honoring Me Now.” At 12 minutes into the show, he sniffed at the MacArthur Foundation’s award of a $500,000 fellowship to saxophonist Miguel Zenon, tongue-in-cheeking “Never give money to a jazz musician — they’ll just blow it on heroin and berets.”
Then he listened to a moment of Zenon’s mellifluous style, boppin’ along to it. But: “It’s not genius level jazz if it sounds like music,” Colbert went on; “Ask Pulitzer Prize-winning saxophonist Ornette Coleman.” Ten seconds of Ornette, from his Pulitzer-Prize winning album Sound Grammar. “God, that’s unbearable. Ergo, it must be ‘good.'”
Slight correction: the “unbearable” excerpt featured Ornette playing violin, which even for fans of jazz beyond jazz can be an acquired taste. That’s okay, we know the truth, as opposed to the truthiness, of this bit. Colbert loves jazz — enough to make fun of it.