On Tuesday night, Stephen Colbert, who hosts the satirical news program "The Colbert Report," gave Canton, Ohio, a new name because Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama chose the city as the place to launch the final week of his campaign.
Sorry, nation, when it comes to comedian Stephen Colbert's new name for Canton, well, city officials don't have a lot to say.
On Tuesday night, Colbert, who hosts the satirical news program "The Colbert Report," gave Canton a new name because Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama chose the city as the place to launch the final week of his campaign.
The new name isn't nice.
Colbert concocted a moniker that combines the last name of Adolf Hitler and a section of the body most often associated with people who — that "Joe" guy near Toledo, for example — work as plumbers.
Must have meant Michigan
After hearing about Colbert's name for Canton, Mayor William J. Healy II assumed the comedian was confused.
"Everybody in Ohio knows that term more clearly defines (Canton) Michigan," Healy said.
"So I think he was right from the start, this is the good Canton and we have a lot of wonderful things to prove it," added Healy, who laughed after commenting.
Dennis Saunier, the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce's president and chief executive officer, said he can't take the comments seriously.
"The show is a comedy that uses sensational remarks for effect. To me the piece portrayed Canton, Ohio ... as an important American city in which the road to the White House runs," Saunier said.
"... And the whole premise of this skit was based on the fact that both presidential candidates saw the importance of Canton to their campaigns, and I think both vice presidential candidates have been to the Canton area as well."
A trip that didn’t happen
Actually, Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain hasn't visited the city since claiming the nomination earlier this year.
As it turns out, a planned McCain visit that didn't happen started all of the Canton ruckus on “The Colbert Report.”
The renaming of Canton is all part of what has been a running routine for Colbert on his Comedy Central network program.
On the show, Colbert portrays a conservative news pundit who doesn't see "color," loves being rich and famous, hates bears and doesn't like anything that strays from pure American capitalism. The show has been likened to a spoof of the Fox News program "The O'Reilly Factor."
The Canton routine started in July when McCain, the Republican presidential candidate, was supposed to visit Brookside Country Club in Jackson Township, Ohio, for a fundraising event. Colbert noted that McCain was coming to the good Canton, not that crappy Canton down in Georgia.
Since then, Colbert has apologized to Canton, Ga. He then repeated the insults and apologies to cities named Canton in Kansas, South Dakota and Texas.
He said what?
That all changed in Tuesday night's episode.
After running a series of news clips from national news networks noting Obama's visit to Canton on Monday, Colbert determined he had it all wrong and decided to rename the city.
"Now that Barack Obama has made Canton, Ohio, important to his campaign, I am forced to find it so crappy its name should be changed to 'Hitler's A**crack.' "
From that point, Colbert started taking jabs at the city.
He said Canton is so bad that the Hoover Co. left. What Colbert doesn't know is that Hoover used to be based in North Canton. He also doesn't know the company — now part of TTI Floor Care North America — still has about 100 employees in Canton.
Not funny for some
City Councilman Bill Smuckler, D-at large, said he enjoys satire, but he didn't find Tuesday's Colbert bit funny primarily because of the Hitler reference.
"Anything that deals with the Holocaust, there isn't room for laughter," said Smuckler, who is Jewish.
Smuckler said he wished Colbert would have chosen another form of humor because "Canton can have a sense of humor and laugh at itself."
A Comedy Central spokesman said the show hasn't responded to questions about the Canton spoofs.
But Healy said he called Comedy Central and left voice mail for Colbert.
"As mayor, I felt I at least had to defend ourselves and not allow those kind of statements to go unchecked," said Healy, a Democrat. "I think they would know it's tongue and cheek.
"We were important enough for the next president of the United States to make ... a formal presentation. I think that tells you all you need to know about this community."
Canton Repository writer Ed Balint contributed to this story.
COLBERT’S CANTON VICTIMS
- Canton, Ohio
- Canton, Texas
- Canton, S.D.
- Canton, Kansas
- Canton, Ga.
OTHER CANTONS BEWARE
- Canton, Conn.
- Canton, Ill.
- Canton, Iowa
- Canton, Mass.
- Canton, Mich.
- Canton, Minn.
- Canton, Miss.
- Canton, Mo.
- Canton, N.Y.
- Canton, N.C.
- Canton, Okla.
- Canton, Penn.