Things we learned about Stephen Colbert today: He's deathly afraid of sharks, he's been stung by a jellyfish and yes, he totally pooped in the ocean.
Why all the salty sea banter with the host of The Colbert Report? Having already made a name for himself in ice cream, the Olympics and space, the funnyman is about to race in a sailing regatta from Charleston to Bermuda in May.
Oh, and in fact—he's going to win. Find out what he told us about his preparation, where he got a sail with his face on it and why he used the ocean as a toilet...
The truly funny, fake-conservative talk show host told us he's ready to win this year after his embarrassing display in 2010. That was his first time in the race, and he lost. Badly.
"I came in dead last last time; I finished four days behind the lead boat," he laughed. "We lost a sail, didn't have any diesel power so we couldn't charge any of our batteries. Both of our toilets became nonfunctional. That was on day two."
And did he have to relieve himself the way we think he did? Yup. When we asked if it would be accurate to print "Stephen Colbert s**t in the ocean" as a headline, he nodded and laughed, revealing that he did indeed drop a deuce in the deep blue sea.
"There's this big beautiful ocean out there... We were very careful—let me put it out there—we sent it that way," he said, pointing behind him. "Being out there on a 65-foot boat, everything that's habitable is with you, it gets pretty intimate."
Despite the poop jokes, Colbert is serious about sailing the 777 mile event. He's even the honorary captain of the fleet this time and showed off the yacht during the Auto Show at the Jacob Javits Center in New York today. And his Audi-sponsored vessel—dubbed The Audi, natch—will be a pretty sweet ride for him and his 12-man crew of pals, a "truly world-class boat" that appropriately features a picture of Colbert on its sail.
"It's serious. You're going over 777 nautical miles—well over 1,000 miles. The first night you get scared, but you get used to it," he told us. "We'll all be strapped in, jacklined to the boat. Because if you fall overboard at night, good luck being found. And so that's nerve-wracking, but you get used to that right away."
Other things that are scary in the big 'ol Atlantic? Bears? Sharks.
"What's incredible about sailing is, I was 500 miles out once with no wind whatsoever for two days. So we went for a swim. The water is as clear as the air—you feel like you're flying—but you also can't help but imagine a big mouth coming at you. We had sharks around our boat."
The next morning on that same trip, Colbert's boat was surrounded by a blanket of Portuguese Man-of-War's, those giant jellyfish that will sting you into anaphylactic shock and possibly stop your heart.
"I've gotten stung by a jellyfish, so we couldn't get in the water we had to sit and watch them drift by the boat silently," he said.
Colbert, who grew up in a sailing community in Charleston, S.C., said he was never able to sail as a kid because he's missing an eardrum in one ear, and "that didn't work in the water." Later in his life, some experienced boaters taught him how to sail anyway and he fell in love with it.
Now that he's an expert, he has one plan in mind when it comes to crushing the competition. (He'll be up against 19 other boats.) Just win. Well, win and laugh along the way.
"Yes, we hope to do that," he said. "Win. I will get a cup. And eternal glory. I will make everyone laugh, that's the way to keep from getting scared. There's a lot of free time, lot of time to tell each other stories."
The funnyman takes off from Charleston Harbor May 21 and plans on arriving four days later in Bermuda. And if he doesn't make it? Well, that won't be his fault: It'll be due to Armageddon.
"There is a cult out there that believes the world is coming to an end on May 21, so that's one of the reasons I wanted to be out in the ocean. I'll have nothing above me and I'll fly straight up."
Sounds like a plan. But if the world does go on, we wish him some sweet sailing. Bon voyage, Colbert!