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SUNDAY, DECEMBER 3, 2006
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Colbert County laughing about ‘Colbert’ feature

TUSCUMBIA (AP) — Here’s the truth, and not just the truthiness: Colbert County is pretty happy with the way it came across on Comedy Central’s hit show “The Colbert Report.”

The faux news program — with comedian Stephen Colbert playing a pompous talking head who doesn’t let facts get in the way of his take on the truth — aired a three-part segment this week in which Colbert sent an assistant to his “namesake” county in Alabama to open the “Stephen Colbert Museum and Gift Shop.”

Never mind that the TV guy says his name with the French pronunciation “Col-bear” while the county is pronounced “Col-bert.”

That little difference didn’t get in the way of the gag.

Sue Pilkilton, a Colbert resident who took the brunt of some of the show’s jokes, said she enjoyed the episodes, which showed the natural and architectural beauty of the northwest Alabama town.

‘Positive manner’

“I think it really came out in a positive manner for us,” Pilkilton said in an interview Friday. “We’re far from being ‘Deliverance’ way back in the sticks.”

In the show, the Stephen Colbert museum supposedly competed with the real-life museum dedicated to blind activist Helen Keller in her hometown of Tuscumbia.

But Colbert’s museum shut down after drawing competition from another TV museum — one dedicated to Joe Scarborough of MSNBC’s “Scarborough Country” show.

Mayor Bill Shoemaker said officials were nervous at first when producers contacted them about being on the Colbert Report.

“Sometimes when he gets someone on there he winds up being pretty tough,” said Shoemaker.

But the show “came out very well,” Shoemaker said, and the tourism office has gotten calls from people who watched the program and are interested in visiting.

“It was clean comedy, and it came out in a light-hearted, good-natured way,” he said.

A little flustered

Pilkilton was on the program because she directs Ivy Green, the Keller birthplace. Even though she enjoyed the show, she got a little flustered when an actor playing Colbert’s aide told her a Helen Keller joke. It was all in fun, but still ....

“There were several times when he tried to push my buttons, but I tried to keep my cool and go along,” she said.

And no, Colbert County isn’t named for an actor. Ninon Parker of the county tourism office said it’s named for Chief George Colbert, whose father was a Scottish trader and whose mother was from the Chickasaw Nation.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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