Don't expect Stephen Colbert, or anyone for that matter, to put a "happy face "on the apparent outcome of the 2016 presidential election. The mood among the audience for Colbert's live (and censor-free) Election Night special on Showtime steadily shifted from cautiously optimistic to utter devastation as the United States grabbed the nearest metaphorical rifle, took a selfie for posterity, then shot itself square in its fat, white face. But Colbert, visibly shaken by the news, managed to close the evening out on a vaguely optimistic note.
"I'm from a big family," Colbert emotionally told viewers of his inaugural Democracy's Series Finale: Who's Going to Clean Up This Shit. "My mother was born two days before women could vote the first time in a presidential election… I was thinking this was going to be the time that she got what she wanted. She told me at age 92, shortly before she died, 'Oh, I think I would vote for Hillary this time, it's time.' She only voted for one Democrat in her entire life and that was Kennedy."
But despite our current climate, Colbert argued, we can make a conscious decision to embrace our similarities instead of perpetuating our differences to violent ends. "Whether your side won or lost, we don't have to do this shit for awhile," Colbert said. "So keep your American flag up, but you can take off your American flag hat. You can put away your 'I voted' stickers and you can get back to your life."
Colbert added that, no matter the outcome, laughter will help us endure. "In the face of something that might strike you as horrible, I think laughter is the best medicine," Colbert said. "You cannot laugh and be afraid at the same time, and the devil cannot stand mockery."
Now is the time to mock.