Tonight Comedy Central is airing the very last Colbert Report, as Stephen Colbert prepares to succeed David Letterman on CBS in the new year. Fueled by Colbert's conservative blowhard alter ego, the Colbert Report became more than a parody talk show with really good ratings. Over the years, Colbert's signature satire became a cultural touchstone, enabling him to book the most prominent guests in every field.
From Richard Branson to Bill Gates, entrepreneurs showed up in Colbert's hot seat time after time, eager to demonstrate one skill every successful person needs: the ability to laugh at oneself.
Richard Branson on advocating for capitalism
Colbert questioned why Virgin founder Richard Branson wanted to run all his planes on clean fuel. The talk show host argued that cheap, dirty fuel was brought on by capitalism, the best economic model, so it must be good. "Capitalism is the only system that works," Branson agreed. "It does bring extreme wealth, and therefore it brings extreme responsibility. There are numerous problems in the world. We shouldn't leave them to the politicians." Also, when in doubt, bring a fire extinguisher.
Mark Cuban on owning your success
Entrepreneur and owner of the Dallas Mavericks Mark Cuban went on the Colbert Report to shed some light on what it's like to be an out-and-proud billionaire. Cuban told Colbert that he gets asked for political donations all the time, but he hasn't given to a political campaign in years. Karl Rove even sent him a ham.
Sheryl Sandberg on why men should 'lean in'
Facebook COO and Lean In author Sheryl Sandberg told Colbert that it's not only women who need to "lean in," her coined phrase for being proactive in the workplace. Men can lean in running the home, she said. The statement worried the talk-show host because of a study he read that the more housework men do, the less sex they have, which Sandberg quickly said was outdated. Colbert also asked about the best way to encourage his daughter to "lean in." "Do I have to use the name of your book?" he asked. "That part is optional," Sandberg replied.
Bill Gates on why America should lead the world
Microsoft founder Bill Gates talked to Colbert about his foundation's progress in eradicating polio around the world. "When you go around the world do you wear an American flag so they know this is American money?" Colbert asked. "Oh, yeah," Gates said. "They hope American innovation and generosity really continues to lead the world." Gates also talked about Steve Jobs's "cool factor," and got cheers from the crowd when he confessed being "geekier."
Arianna Huffington on how to brag with class
The media entrepreneur went on the talk show shortly after the Huffington Post won its first Pulitzer Prize, though not for a series on Heidi Klum nip slips, as Colbert assumed. Huffington played along, shouting back at a "jealous" host, who kept bringing up his Peabody win. "Who needs a Peabody when you got a Pulitzer?" Huffington righteously asked.