COLBERT: I started off as an improviser in Chicago. And so, to me — I learned — and this is what I really enjoy — is I like discovery more than invention. Any discovery I can make is always going to be superior to an invention because discovery you don’t know what you’re going to find, whereas invention you are just presenting to the audience something you’ve already made. Discovery is always superior to invention.
DICKERSON: What would you have asked the pope?
COLBERT: I would have asked the pope about joy, you know, we call the show “the joy machine” and — because if — unless you do it with joy, it’s just a machine. And in less than five minutes a week, it will grind you up and spit you out and there have been nights.
But I would have asked him about joy and where he finds his joy, like how did he become St. Peter?
COLBERT: You’re not a downer. You’re not a downer.
DICKERSON: You know, the other thing about comedy, though, is we need to acknowledge this horrible thing that happened, we also need the catharsis of the comedy to get us back on the road to controlling what seems like a time of total chaos.
COLBERT: You can’t laugh and be afraid at the same time. It’s like physiologically impossible to laugh and be afraid at the same time.
-excerpt of John Dickerson’s interview with Stephen Colbert from December 27 episode of CBS Face the Nation