While Stephen Colbert probably found himself on the other side of Antonin Scalia on most issues, he revealed that he has a soft spot for the late Supreme Court justice.
“Whether or not you agree with him or made a lot of jokes about him — like I did — one thing you’ve got to admit is that he had a great sense of humour,” the late-night host said on the “Late Show” Monday night.
According to Colbert, transcripts show Scalia loved to joke around during oral arguments in the court and would crack the room up. Colbert then wondered if it was that same humour that allowed him to be good friends with the justices he most disagreed with, such as Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
In fact, Colbert himself got a dose of how Scalia could disarm someone.
“I was lucky enough to have one conversation with Antonin Scalia that explained his appeal to me,” Colbert said.
It happened about a decade ago when Colbert gave the opening speech for the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. While we remember it differently, Colbert says he was bombing. He admits there was some laughter in the back of the room, but the front of the room — where all the most important people were sitting — was “mostly silent” during his speech.
Colbert says that even after the speech, no one would make eye contact with him, except for one person: Antonin Scalia.
A week before the dinner, Scalia made a gesture to photographers that pretty much means “f— you.” So during the speech, Colbert sent one of his own gestures to Scalia. And that cracked the justice up. He would end up raising Colbert’s spirits that night, telling the comedian that the bit was “great.”
“I will forever feel grateful for that moment of human contact that he gave me,” Colbert said.
Watch Colbert tell the story himself below:
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