Colbert for President: Is He Kidding?

Announcing Tuesday his decision to run for president, Stephen Colbert is seemingly of the "I laugh at them but will join them regardless" school of thought.

Despite that his chances of being -- or even wanting to be -- elected are slimmer than a Hollywood starlet's waistline, Colbert's decision has got everybody talking. The question is, is this a joke that's perhaps going too far for the Comedy Central funny man?

Joe Saltzman, a former senior producer for Entertainment Tonight, with four Emmy's to his name, thinks not.

"It's a funny gag and hikes up his comedy to the next level," Saltzman said. "Politics is already comedic, with carefully scripted answers. And with Colbert on the inside, he can expose how his opponents are contradicting themselves with clips of what they said then and what they're saying now."

On its face, it may seem like one big lark, but the fact of the matter is, Colbert has contacted both the Republican and Democratic parties in South Carolina.

Joe Werner of the South Carolina Democratic Party told ABC News that Colbert's people actually contacted the party weeks ago to check whether his application would be viable.

With this in mind, it seems that this is one joke Colbert is not going to let go of anytime soon. And the risk with any joke is people taking it the wrong way.

"When I'm up on stage and do a joke, half the people interpret it one way and half of them interpret it the way I want them to," said Maria Bamford, a comic who regularly appears on Comedy Central. "The character you play can seem more real than you, and it's amazing how many people buy into it."

The electorate buying into the idea of Colbert as a candidate could be one way that this particular joke turns sour.

"While it's not much of a possibility, if Colbert takes votes from people interested in the job, than that could become troublesome," Bamford said.

Making sure to not get ahead of herself, Bamford quickly added, "Overall, it's fine and, even if it might be a problem if he does well, to be honest there is a lack of sense of humor in right-wing politics. He can help out with this."

Paul Lewis, a Boston College English professor and author of "Cracking Up: American Humor in a Time of Conflict," draws the comparison with Sacha Baron Cohen's Borat and Ali G skits, in which Cohen also stays in character throughout. However, Lewis points out one key difference.

"Unlike Cohen's characters, who get laughs by deceiving their interlocutors, Colbert doesn't trick the guests he interviews," Lewis said. "This explains why he has provoked less animosity, no lawsuits and mostly just laughter."

"Colbert knows it's almost impossible to take him seriously, and everyone will take this as a good-hearted joke," Lewis said.

On the slight chance that Colbert is for real, his chance of success at the polls is not. Colbert's candidacy is considered by many a self-promoting stunt, and the extension of his parody into real-life politics does not leave everyone enthused.

"It's a funny idea but makes no great statement and, to be honest, went right out of my head," said Jay Marose, a key influence on high-profile reality shows, including "The Osbournes." "Even though this idea doesn't do anything for me, the idea can't hurt someone and doesn't really have a downside."

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