sation is "yes, and..." This is means never say no. Take what your scene partner says and build on it. This is permeated every episode of The Colbert Report.

The New York City studio where the show was taped was the epicenter of what Colbert has called the "Joy Machine." (I went to 16 tapings and would have gone to even more, but show rules allowed attendance only once every six months; as it was, I could see security keeping their eye on me.) With Cheap Trick's "I Want You to Want Me" blasting, Colbert would burst from the wings, run around the desk and high-five the lucky folks in the front row (last summer, one of those lucky folks was me). He would ask the audience, "Does anyone have any questions to humanize me first before I say those terrible things?" His responses could include singing, dancing or, upon request, demonstrating his mysterious ability to fold his wonky right ear over on itself, then, without touching it, pop it back into place. After he stepped behind the enormous C-shaped desk, the hairdresser would put the final touches on his gleaming, blue-black helmet of hair. When stage manager Mark McKenna signaled that the taping was about to start, Colbert would look at the audience and say, "Have a good show."

He meant it. We the audience-in the studio and at home-were his partners in what he has called "extended improvisational games." When NASA ran a contest to name exercise equipment on the International Space Station, he rallied the Colbert Nation. We voted, and the treadmill became

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