I have to admit, I find celebrity very attractive.  Not that I want to be a celebrity; not that I necessarily like individual celebrities; but that power over the public – the cult of personality – knowing about the life of someone you have, and probably will, never meet.  The very idea of “celebrity news” is like media-condoned mass stalking.

Perhaps one of my favorite things regarding celebrities (one could also say “public personalities”) is a moment when their private and public selves collide.  This is not to be confused with the paparazzi style invasion of privacy.  The moment I have in mind is perhaps best seen in the comedian’s “break-down,” when even they cannot maintain themselves within whatever ridiculous situation or character they’ve created.  Eddie Izzard does this marvellously in “Dress to Kill,” especially in reaction to his audience’s responses.  Movie out-takes do this to a certain extent, although they are less interesting 1) because they are separate from the finished product; 2) they often take the form of “inside jokes” or simply a forgotten line; and 3) watching a lot of them in a row is frankly a bit boring.  The best kind are those that happen live – Jimmy Fallon’s excepted, just for the frequency of his break-downs – because they are forced at once to recover; no out-takes, no cut scenes.

Stephen Colbert has some great ones, perhaps in part due to the nature of his character on The Colbert Report.  The best recent one was an exchange between him and Jon Stewart regarding Columbus Day:


(It’s the video clip labelled “Merry Columbus.”)


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