Stephen Colbert is known for his quick wit and scathing punch-lines on "The Colbert Report," but in a new interview, Colbert revealed a great deal about his personal loss, faith, and the difference between joy and happiness.
In 1974, Colbert lost his father and two older brothers when their airplane crashed in North Carolina. The 10-year-old Colbert dealt with the tragedy on his own and didn't fully grieve until he was a freshman in college.
"I was in bad shape. I was just green … I was so sad about it. That loss was my secret name … I liked the idea that you have a secret name. And that's a name that no one can ever really pronounce, you know, because it's who you are. There's a magic to your secret name," he said.
Colbert also turned to his Catholic upbringing in order to help him through the loss. To this day he keeps a card he received from a priest, which includes the saying, "Joy is the most infallible sign of the presence of God."
Religion is important to the talk-show host, who spoke as part of a discussion with other religious leaders at Jesuit Fordham University and confessed his love for the Roman Catholic Church. During a discussion with New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan and Rev. James Martin, Colbert described using comedy to "teach joy, the infallible sign of the presence of God."
"I love my church- warts and all," Colbert told the graduating Jesuit class of 3,000. "If Jesus doesn't have a sense of humor, I am in huge trouble."
"Joy can be hard. It's not the same thing as happiness," Colbert told Oprah, and what gives him joy is "to be with my wife and children."
Colbert's new book, "America Again: Re-Becoming the Greatness We Never Weren't" is available now.