What Stephen Colbert learned in a Ukrainian Village barber’s chair

Comedian knows Putin is wrong because of the haircutter who ‘did to my head what Russia wants to do to Ukraine.’

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Stephen Colbert told his “Late Show” audience that he got a lesson in geopolitics while living in Ukrainian Village in 1991.


Stephen Colbert, who has been joking a lot lately about the threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, revealed Tuesday on his “Late Show” that he got a thorough education on the subject almost 30 years ago in a barber’s chair in Chicago.

In Ukrainian Village, of course.

The comedian played a clip of Russian President Vladimir Putin saying that Ukraine long has been “an integral part” of his country’s culture. “Historically,” he said, “people from this territory were called Russians.”

Colbert, explaining that Chicago has a neighborhood full of Ukrainian churches and delis, rebutted Putin by flashing back to when he lived there in December 1991. On the eve of an independence referendum in Ukraine, he asked a local barber for a prediction.

“He was so happy that this American kid took an interest in the independence of Ukraine that he turned me away from the mirror and walked around me for two hours cutting my hair, just to have somebody to talk to,” he recalled, “till all I had left were whitewalls and a little tuft on the back of my head like a Katzenjammer Kid.

“He did to my head what Russia wants to do to Ukraine. If I had called him a Russian, he would have given me the Sweeney Todd,” Colbert said with a slashing move to his throat.

That’s right around when Colbert, a 1986 Northwestern grad, was making his name at Second City, where he went from the merch counter to the touring company to the now-defunct northwest suburban branch, and later to the mainstage.

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