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Stephen Colbert returns to 'Report' with 'confidential message'

February 20, 2012 | 11:24 pm

Stephen Colbert returns to 'Colbert Report'Stephen Colbert returned to "The Colbert Report" Monday night with a message for his ailing mother.

"Before we start the broadcast tonight, I just want to address my recent absence from the national conversation," the Comedy Central host said, alluding to an unscheduled break in tapings last week. The network initially said Colbert's disappearance was due to "unforeseen circumstances," but it was later reported that his 91-year-old mother, Lorna, was suffering from a serious illness.

Fans wondered how Colbert would address the widely reported hiatus without breaking character - that is, without dropping the mask of the smarmy, self-important political TV host also known as "Stephen Colbert."

Answer: He made a joke out of it, of course. "As the hub around which the republic turns," Colbert told viewers, "I can understand why the machinery of this great nation ground to a halt last week when you were denied" - gesturing to his face - "this. Now, I'm sure you felt the same way I do when I'm in a room without mirrors." 

Only at the end of the bit did Colbert add an additional aside: "Evidently having 11 children makes you tough as nails. Confidential to a lovely lady."

This line was greeted with hearty applause, as Colbert fans know that the host is the youngest of 11 children (his father and two brothers were killed in a plane crash in 1974).

What did you think of Colbert's return?

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-- Scott Collins

twitter.com/scottcollinsLAT

Photo: Stephen Colbert (seen here in January) returned to "The Colbert Report" Monday after unexpectedly missing two episodes. Credit: Richard Ellis/Getty Images.

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