Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Colbert Riot

Nadya Tolokonnikova and Masha Alyokhina of Russian punk activists Pussy Riot were on The Colbert Report last night. They were in NY to appear at a benefit concert for Amnesty International, along with Madonna and the Flaming Lips. Presumably their interview with Colbert was part of a larger press junket, but I can't imagine an appearance on Good Morning America or Letterman being as interesting (or as good).

Like Metallica before them, the two ladies weren't just straight men (straight women?) to their host's clueless pundit character, but scored some pretty solid laughs of their own (via their translator, Anja). They were also eerily cool during the entire interview - like in the video of their sentencing, their demeanor had shades of Hannibal Lecter. They really might be supervillains.


• Colbert's intro ("My guests tonight are Russian activists who are vocal opponents of Vladymir Putin. I will not be sharing their sushi.") had possibly the best "Putin has his detractors poisoned" joke ever written.

• I'd seen pictures of them before, but on the show Nadya and Masha looked incredibly young (Wikipedia lists their ages as 24 and 25, respectively). The idea that the government - ANY government - would be scared of two such demure young ladies enough to send them to Siberia is baffling. It makes their act of protest that much ballsier.

• I wonder how much of Colbert's schtick was explained to the ladies beforehand, or if they could tell that his questions were facetious from how the audience reacted to them. [Or, alternately, if translator Anja provided some editorializing, since her translations seemed longer than Colbert's questions.]

 • The line for which Colbert had no comeback: "We've had two years of practice hiding things from searches."

• On Colbert and Putin going hunting together, shirtless: "You should take some handsome boys with you."

• Some jokes don't need translating - a bit about Dutch prisons only needed Colbert to mime toking up for the girls to get where he was going.

• I was incredibly distracted by a blemish on Nadya's lip. Probably because I dated a girl who habitually picked at her lips, and I had to hold her hands to get her to stop.

• Strange - though Pussy Riot are known ostensibly as a "punk band", there didn't seem to be any interest in their actual music, or in having them play a song on the show. Which is too bad, because "Putin Has Pissed Himself" sounds pretty catchy.

• Apparently, since they're a collective of largely anonymous members, anyone could be in Pussy Riot - even Reverend Dr. Stephen Colbert, DFA.

The Interview, Part 1:

Part 2: