Colbert’s love of reading wasn’t the only aspect of his adult life that stemmed from spending so much time with his mother. Colbert admitted in an interview with Howard Stern (via People) that lightening his mother’s spirits after what she went through was what first drew him to comedy. “I think there’s no doubt that I do what I do because I wanted to make her happy,” he explained, adding that he had a “strong urge to cheer up a sad woman.”

Their relationship, he revealed, was more codependent than most youngsters and their folks. “I was there with my mom, she was there for me, and I sort of kept her going,” he said. “Mom and I used to joke that I raised my mom, because at a certain point it had changed her completely and it changed me completely.” As close as they were, Colbert noted that she was not a helicopter parent when it came his academic and career choices. He joked to The New York Times, “She said, ‘I don’t know why, but I’m not worried about you.’ I think it was foolish, irresponsible parenting.”

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