Speed Reads

Last Night on Late Night

Stephen Colbert explains the 'first degree puppetry' charges Capitol Police filed against his crew

Robert Smigel, who voices Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, and seven staff members of The Late Show With Stephen Colbert were detained by Capitol Police late Thursday after interviewing members of Congress about the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection. 

"After they'd finished their interviews, they were doing some last-minute puppetry and jokey make-em-ups in a hallway, when Triumph and my folks were approached and detained by the Capitol Police — which actually isn't that surprising," Colbert said on Monday's Late Show. "The Capitol Police are much more cautious than they were, say, 18 months ago, and for a very good reason. If you don't know what that reason is, I know what news network you watch."

Everyone was calm, professional, and doing their job, Colbert said. It was "a very unpleasant experience for my staff, a lot of paperwork for the Capitol Police, but a fairly simple story. Until the next night, when a couple of the TV people started claiming that my puppet squad had 'committed insurrection' at the Capitol building." They weren't in the Capitol, he said, and "I am shocked that I have to explain the difference, but an insurrection involves disrupting the lawful actions of Congress and howling for the blood of elected leaders, all to prevent the peaceful transfer of power. This was first-degree puppetry. This was high jinks with intent to goof. Misappropriation of an old Conan bit."

Colbert suggested the unidentified TV talking heads were using Triumph's brief detention to avoid talking about the Jan. 6 hearings. "In this case, our puppet was just a puppet, doing puppet stuff," he said. "And sad to say, so much has changed in Washington that the Capitol Police do have to stay at high alert at all times, because of the attack on Jan. 6. And as the hearings prove more clearly every day, the blame for that actual insurrection all lies with Putin's puppet."