Colbert mocks me again

By Phil Plait | April 2, 2009 10:14 am

Oh, when will this tyranny of astronomy-related censorship ever end?

I am referring, of course, to The Colbert Report, which has on every astronomer in the world but me. Stephen, what must I do? I wrote a book about the end of the world, and I even threatened to have Buzz Aldrin punch you. And yet you still invite Derrick Pitts on your show, and not me?

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Derrick Pitts
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor NASA Name Contest

Sure, Derrick did a really good job, being funny, talking about what Galileo did, and why it was important. But where was the talk of giant asteroid impacts, the vaporizing of our planet by a gamma-ray burst, or the danger of a gigantic solar flare wiping out our electric grid?

Oh, Stephen, when you go for the real information and not the scare factor, what’s next? Unicorns? Rainbows? Politics?

Sigh, maybe when I’m in NYC in a couple of weeks, I’ll see if Neil Tyson can hook me up. I hear he’s had some sort of tangential relationship with The Colbert Report in the past.


Comments (48)

  1. Todd W.

    Phil, what if you got something named after you? Something that he was trying to get named after him?

  2. Morley

    That’s a real good idea Todd :-p Colbert would be mad and demand he come on the show…. Another way may be trying to post something on the Colbert nation website

  3. But does Pitts have an asteroid named after him?

    He did do a good job, though. Funny stuff! Cage match indeed!

  4. Really looking for that Colbert Bump, huh?

    Offer to change the name of the JREF to the SCEF.

    *In Colbert’s voice*:Hey, that’s one less syllable to spend energy on. Aren’t you scientists always talking about saving energy?

  5. CW

    I think he’s afraid to have you on his show because you are witty and clever. And his guests tend to be more of a foil or straight man to his humor.

  6. Todd W.


    No. He’s had some on that dealt it back pretty well. He’s even cracked a few times because the guest came back with some funny retorts.

  7. Phil, I think you should mobilize your minions to mailbomb the Colbert Nation web site until he invites you on.

    Oh wait…it was PZ that had the minions. Maybe you could borrow some of his 😀

  8. jrpowell

    Phil – talk to your damned publisher about getting you on the show to promote your books.

    Good luck!

  9. Sorry. Recycling someone else’s old joke.

  10. Phil, how about you challenge him that you can get more votes to have the node 3 named after you 😀

    BTW, I do have mixed feelings about this one. On one hand, it might be good for PR if NASA went with his name, and no matter what the final decision is, we should be thankful for the amount of awareness he’s raised. Nevertheless, if NASA makes an exception in the naming rules I see people paying and fighting over whose name will be attached to what, in the future (does an ebay auction to have something named after you sound like a good idea to anyone?)

  11. Tyson was pretty awesome the couple times I saw him on The Colbert Report. But he’s usually awesome. And you would be too, Phil, I have no doubt! There’s room for more than one awesome astronomer; hopefully your time will come!

  12. Gary Ansorge

    Phil: I just started a new thread at the Colbert site titled Bad Astronomy. I suggest your millions of fans join up and waste that site,,,snark,,,

    ,,,here’s the link, for the perennially busy,,,

    GAry 7

  13. Joe

    He’s saving you for something special… something VERRRY special.

  14. I was disappointed he didn’t have time to show off the IYA Galileoscope after I went to all the trouble of sending him one. Guess he had to hawk his exhibit first.

    He was very good on the show…Phil, I did improv with one of the writers on the show many years ago…I will drop him a note :)

  15. Hoonser

    Maybe you should change the name of the blog to the Humble Astronomer, and not openly complain about not getting interviewed on a tv show.

  16. @Hoonser: You’re missing the joke. Phil’s playing off the way Colbert complains whenever he doesn’t get accolades he doesn’t deserve for any particular reason, like having animal species and space station segments named after him.

    Does Phil particularly deserve to be on TV? Well, no. But he’s charismatic and smart, and if you’ve seen his videos you’d realize he’s a great spokesman for science. So in that sense, he’s right.

  17. Todd W.

    Phil, here’s another idea. Create a new web site: Plait Nation. Mimic the format of Colbert Nation, but unlike Colbert, use satire.

  18. Quatguy

    Handsome, definately don’t forget handsome…..Colbert I mean, sorry Phil not you. You have more of an inner beauty.

  19. Gary Ansorge



    GAry 7

  20. Gary Ansorge

    Just checked the Colbert thread and it’s already been viewed 26 times but I note none of the Plait Nation has responded with positive input. Come on skeptics: SAY SOMETHING.

    Positive, preferably,,,

    GAry 7

  21. Chris A.

    My guess is that it’s about geography. Pitts and Tyson in Colbert’s neighborhood (relatively speaking).

    I like Derrick Pitts; I think he does okay with the witty repartee, however it seems like whenever I see him on interviews I find myself thinking that he misses opportunities for zingers and/or clever lines. (That being said, I’m sitting at home on the comfort of my couch, and he’s the one under the hot studio lights…)

    NdGT seems to thrive a bit more in that environment. Probably due in part to having had more practice.

  22. John Phillips, FCD

    @drksky, PZ doesn’t have minions, we are ilk :)

  23. Yo are all forgetting the ONE SURE way that will guarantee Phil a guest spot on the Colbert Report: Phi, you need to run and get elected… as a REPUBLICAN congressman.

  24. Plait & Palin 2012, anyone?

  25. unquiet_mind

    i’m thinking Tyson is definitely your best bet, Phil.
    hey, you could offer to ‘referee’ the death cage match!

    that being said, Colbert is just so random and…bizarre. i thought Pitts hung in there quite nicely.

    –just spreadin’ the Philly love

  26. Hoonser

    @Brock: You make a good point.

  27. Hey! Keep your mouth shut about my old boss, Phil! 😛

  28. As for cages matches… Pitts wins hands down. The man has REACH.

  29. @Michael L

    I think the best Phil could hope for is Palin-Plait, though I think his head would explode before the first primary. “I betcha no one would notice if Nasa were gone, dontchaknow.”

  30. As per Matthew’s recomendation, I just called my bookie to change my bet, 😉

  31. Kevin

    I hate the way ColberT is pressuring NASA to name Node 3 for him. Heck, he’s even got stupid congresspersons saying NASA should do it!

  32. gss_000

    Phil, you must be really pissed then that Mr. Pitts was interviewed on the Rachel Maddow show a couple of nights ago, where they talked about the Virginia meteor event. Now he’s encroaching on your turf! :)

  33. Daffy

    Good Lord, Phil, why would you even want to be on his show?!?!

    I like the show itself…but the interviews are ANNOYING, and I always turn them off. I realize it’s a parody, but when he has a guest on who actually has something interesting to say, he still won’t let them get a word in edgewise. Bleccch!

    Go for the Daily Show!

  34. José

    I hate the way ColberT is pressuring NASA to name Node 3 for him. Heck, he’s even got stupid congresspersons saying NASA should do it!

    It’s joke! The congressman has a sense of humor. They don’t really care if it’s named after him.

    Phil, if you really want to get on the show I bet something like “Prominent astronomer Phil Plait demands that NASA names the module after Colbert”, would do the trick. Or you could just add a new chapter to your book on the threat of space bears.

  35. We mock you and you don’t have to leave boulder.

  36. Chet

    I agree with Jose. Support the naming of the new ISS module as Colbert, and you’ll at least get mentioned, if not a guest spot. Personally, I support the Colbert name — think of the publicity. The average American has completely lost interest in space exploration, and sees it as a massive waste of money. Getting a prominent celebrity on board will at least get attention for the space program. Besides, I can’t think of a more sleep-inducing un-awe-inspiring name than “Serenity”. Sorry, NASA.

  37. I added my vote on ColbertNation Forum to get Phil on the show, I’d get my minions to vote as well but cats don’t type very well.

  38. Talis Mahn

    Hmm, Colbert is already calling Phil his arch nemesis! (Or was it just nemesis?) It shouldn’t be too long now. :)

  39. Phineas J Whoopie

    Aha!, we’re all just living on the humble planet of Plait. You haven’t been referenced on the Big Bang Theory either. That should be worthy of a future column.

  40. Bigfoot

    Well, if it’s any consolation, Colbert has never had me on either.

  41. fred edison

    I wouldn’t have Colbert on my show because he’s too animated for my taste, but I’d sure as heck invite Phil & Neil on to dissect the joys of death by a black hole. What I’d like to see (any show, any time) is Phil & his friend Randi on together to debunk all the crap out there that passes for “helpful” information.

    Colbert, get on it.

  42. JM

    Phil, you are truly a legend in your own mind. Colbert would have a field day exposing your blather for what it is – pure $^%$&%^$

  43. Daffy


    I trust you are joking. You do realize that Colbert is a parody of right wing broadcasters, right?

  44. Steve Ulven

    Well, Phil, at the very least you’ve introduced me to a new astronomer to keep an eye out for. I hope you do finally get on the show, though. You completely deserve it and I am very sure with this book (along with your personality) would get you repeat visits on the show.

  45. Kevin

    Hah! Colbert didn’t get Node 3 named for him. I knew the people at NASA weren’t complete idiots.

    I won’t say anything else, in case people want to watch his show.


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