There are less than 1,000 people who reside in my hometown of Canton, yet recently the small, sleepy community made a splash on the national news scene.
On Wednesday, cable network Comedy Central fake-news program “The Colbert Report” had a segment that slammed Canton.
On a previous episode, the show’s host, Stephen Colbert, had called Canton, Ga., “crappy” when talking about Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign stop in Canton, Ohio.
The mayor from that Georgia town told local news crews that he didn’t appreciate the comment, and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution ran a story about it.
Well, anyone who watches the show regularly knows Colbert is not one to be bested, so he issued an apology to Canton, Ga., and explained it was a mix up.
He meant to insult Canton, Kan.
I am glad he made the clarification.
“I would say we should convert it to a landfill, but that is insulting landfills,” Colbert said of Canton, Kan., during the nearly minute-long piece. “If Dorothy were from Canton, Kansas, she would have wished that the house dropped on her.”
The bit was hilarious. (If you want to see the clip, click here.)
“How many Canton, Kansas, residents does it take to screw in a light bulb? None! They don’t use lights because they don’t want to see where they live,” Colbert said.
I have never laughed that hard at his show.
Bravo, Colbert. Bravo.
The residents they found to interview apparently forgot how to take a joke.
One resident and local hair salon proprietor Heidi Rouse was interviewed and said Colbert shouldn’t have said what he said because bad publicity can make it even harder for a small town to survive.
I must disagree.
A lack of jobs and things to do are what hurt a small community trying to get by.
Attention on a show that is watched by more people than who read or watch the news is not just a good thing.
It is a great thing.
You couldn’t buy that kind of publicity.
A TV news crew from KWCH Channel 12 asked Bonnie Westbrook what she thought she would do if Colbert came to town.
“Hit him in the nose,” Westbrook said to the reporter.
A little girl promised to “kick his booty,” and KAKE Channel 10 aired an interview of local Roger Regehr saying Colbert could incur bodily harm if he visited the town and said such inflammatory statements.
Rather than shake my fist in his face, I would shake Colbert’s hand and pat him on the back.
It was funny.
I understand wanting to be proud of your community and willing to defend it if needed, but Canton clearly doesn’t need defending.
Canton needs residents with funny bones.
Satire is a beautiful tool, and if anyone has ever watched the show before tuning in just when media types are pining for a story and a reaction, it would be clear what the true message of the slam was to earn a laugh.
Look at it this way, he probably did a Google search for another Canton to use in the bit, and Canton, Kan., came up.
That means when others search for a Canton while online, Canton, Kan., has a good shot of showing up, which could mean a myriad of positive things for the town.
Everyone that was interviewed seemed upset by the whole thing, except one voice of reason – Jack Koehn.
Koehn is the Canton-Galva High School principal, and he told it like it truly is.
“It’s pretty funny,” he told reporters at The Hutchinson News. “I guess you kind of have to understand the context of his character.”
And he’s right.
Stephen Colbert is a character. He plays an over-conservative talk show host that is incredibly self-centered.
It is make-believe. Fiction. It’s not real.
To get this worked up over something that is pure comedy is silly and embarrassing for Canton.
Be thankful he did it.
Before, Canton was only known for a wildlife game preserve and a “hot” and a “cold” water tower.
Now, we have a “Colbert Report” appearance to add to our list.
“You know what they say about Canton, Kansas? Nothing. Nobody talks about it,” Colbert said during the show.
Judging by the media attention, however, that’s not exactly the case.
Some may think it was a negative showing, but remember there is no such thing as bad publicity.
Besides, at least the town isn’t known for something ridiculous like a pancake race versus people from across the pond.