They say that some of the greatest comedy springs from the greatest tragedy.
And that sentiment is most certainly true when it comes to Stephen Colbert.
While many know the comedian as a smart, funny, and charismatic late night personality from critically acclaimed shows like The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, it may come as a surprise that Colbert has dealt with an incredible amount of loss in his life.
Sitting down with CNN host Anderson Cooper for a candid interview on Anderson Cooper 360° on Thursday night about everything from Donald Trump to Lord of the Rings, Colbert opened up about the tragic death of his dad and two brothers in a plane crash when he was just 10 years old, and the profound impact it had on his life.
"I was personally shattered, and then you kind of reform yourself in this quiet, grieving world that was created in… https://t.co/StvSvXUR5b— Anderson Cooper 360° (@Anderson Cooper 360°)1565920700.0
Cooper, who has also dealt with his own share of familial death, also lost his father at age 10, as well as his older brother, Carter, who jumped to his death from his mother's apartment building when Cooper was 21.
The subject of loss was particularly fresh in Cooper's mind following the recent death of his mother, Gloria Vanderbilt, in June from stomach cancer.
At a particularly poignant moment during the interview, Cooper read a quote from Colbert about grief and loss that brought him to the verge of tears.
"You told an interviewer that you have learned to, in your words, 'love the thing that I most wish had not happened,'" Cooper started before an extended pause.
He continued, his voice breaking as he choked back tears:
"You went on to say, 'What punishments of God are not gifts?'"
"Do you really believe that?"
"Yes," Colbert responded with a sad smile after collecting his thoughts.
"It's a gift to exist. And with existence comes suffering. There's no escaping that."
You said "what punishment of gods are not gifts. Do you really believe that?" @andersoncooper, choking back tears,… https://t.co/8A2cy4nwXl— Anderson Cooper 360° (@Anderson Cooper 360°)1565921159.0
The powerful moment quickly went viral on Twitter, with viewers thanking both Colbert and Cooper for the raw emotion and honesty they displayed in the interview:
@AC360 @andersoncooper Both of you touched so many people tonight. Thanks to the two of you for being so generous w… https://t.co/whdUfD3sUV— maria ballantyne (@maria ballantyne)1565940971.0
@AC360 @andersoncooper More interviews, please, Anderson. You have a gift for connecting to the essence of other people.— The Duchess (@The Duchess)1565921398.0
@AC360 @andersoncooper @StephenAtHome absolutely beautiful, intimate interview. Touched me and brought tears to my… https://t.co/hfA7hcMvZD— Rosemary Mendel (@Rosemary Mendel)1565921550.0
@AC360 @andersoncooper Colbert is a force of nature. One of the most brilliant people of our time.— J.J. (@J.J.)1565922040.0
@AC360 @andersoncooper Makes me sad to see Anderson in pain. Grief takes its sweet time. https://t.co/75Zt6m4GdE— Maria Birmingham (@Maria Birmingham)1565922687.0
@AC360 @DuchessofDrivel @andersoncooper This is very good. Bravo.— Matthew Dowd (@Matthew Dowd)1565921809.0
@matthewjdowd @AC360 @DuchessofDrivel @andersoncooper What a breath of fresh air. We are starving for real compass… https://t.co/zAnk1HNf3D— Lisa - Save The Children ⚓️ (@Lisa - Save The Children ⚓️)1565923781.0
@carlarhoffmann @AC360 thank you!— Anderson Cooper (@Anderson Cooper)1565928580.0
Recently another Anderson Cooper moment brought many online to tears as he paid tribute to his late mother, Gloria Vanderbilt.
A moving tribute from @AndersonCooper to his mom, Gloria Vanderbilt, who has died at age 95. https://t.co/WJc75Eo9bY— Josh Campbell (@Josh Campbell)1560781499.0
For anyone who has experienced loss, the Colbert interview is a nice reminder that our grief can serve a powerful purpose, and that our shared humanity can still come shining through even in times of great division.