When Times reporter Jennifer 8. Lee worked out of the Washington, DC bureau, she became famous for hosting a blizzard of parties that upended the beltway social scene and no doubt required a tremendous supply of energy on Lee's part. The writer put no less work into her appearance on Comedy Central's Colbert Report to promote her book on Chinese food. To prepare for the five-minute appearance with tricky, tongue-in-cheek host Stephen Colbert, Lee consulted with at least four buddies — Daily Show writer Rachel Axler, Lee friend "Dana," an unnamed Random House editor and Lee friend "Alexis." Their overwhelming advice? Don't try to be funny, and for the most part Lee didn't. But she did study some talking points, presented along with video of her on the show after the jump.
My friend Alexis (a huge Colbert fan) sent me an e-mail predicting how Colbert might respond to my argument that Chinese food is more American than apple pie given how much we eat apple pie versus Chinese food, and how I should recover from that.
Colbert : "I eat apple pie every morning - with a jack and coke - and a bald eagle egg omlette."
Jenny: Well, there are exceptions - and you are clearly an exceptional American - for most would say Chinese food.
Other things he might do:
* Introduce the idea that the Chinese are taking over the world, starting with the restaurants. ("If that happens, I'm hedged. I speak Chinese, what about you?" or "That might happen. I suggest that your kids learn to speak Chinese. My mom's a tutor.")
* Bring up any comment about the fact that fortune cookies were copied from the Japanese by the Chinese ("We don't feel so bad about it, they've been copying us for centuries.").
* Of course, ask about the middle number as initial. ("The Chinese love the number 8. The Beijing Olympics are starting at 8 p.m. on August 8, 2008. They really wanted this Olympics.")
Lee's friend was right about the apple pie thing. All the studying seemed to leave Lee looking just a tad over-prepared and stiff, but it's hard to fault her when she kept the discussion focused on her book and scored the requisite-but-never-guarnteed book plug from the host at the end.