Stephen Colbert is making the Colbert Nation proud. But as for the people running the nation, we’re not so sure.
In a surreal spectacle, Comedy Central’s faux conservative pundit testified—in character—before a House subcommittee on behalf of migrant laborers.
And yes, Colbert was being Colbert.
“I certainly hope that my star power can bump this hearing all the way up to C-SPAN 1,” Colbert told members of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Refugees, and Border Security and the packed gallery.
But it almost didn’t happen. House subcommittee cochairman, Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) kicked things off by trying to halt Colbert’s testimony before it could begin: “You run your show, we run the committee.”
But after an objection by fellow chair, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), who invited the comedian, Conyers backed down and the hearing got underway.
Aside from a few wisecracks about entering his colonoscopy results into the Congressional Record, the Colbert Report host was there to help highlight the miserable working conditions migrant farm workers are subjected to as the committee mulls legislation granting such folks a path to citizenship.
Colbert specifically recounted his experience picking vegetables with day laborers at an upstate New York farm.
“We really didn’t talk that much. I tried to engage in conversation but I don’t speak Spanish that well. I tried to get them to sing field songs,” Colbert joked, “but they seemed to be working the entire time.”
Asked what his employer would have to pay him for working in the fields on a daily basis, the funnyman quipped, “Whatever the SAG minimum wage is.”
Colbert was even grilled about his seemingly lax worth ethic and whether he really did load vegetables.
“I was packing corn. I was a corn packer,” replied Colbert with a straight face. “And I packed it, put in the truck and kept it at 38 degrees and I got the corn out there. I was a corn packer and I know that term is offensive because that implies a gay Iowan.”
He did get serious for a moment, though.
“I don’t know if Americans would or would not want to work jobs like this,” he said. “Americans are tough. It’s not a job I would want to do,” said the funnyman.
“I like talking about people that don’t have any power and this seems like the least powerful people in the U.S. are migrant people that do our work but don’t have any results and we invite them here but at the same time we ask them to leave,” he said. “Migrant workers suffer and have no rights.”
Colbert’s not the only celebrities to offer their input to the subcommittee, joining a list that includes M*A*S*H TV star Loretta “Hot Lips” Swit, Clint Eastwood and Elmo.