My favorite Colbert Report subtitle fail on The Daily Show: second-grade humor edition

You may remember Marco Rubio’s response to Obama’s State of the Union — and if that doesn’t ring a bell, this might:

rubio thirsty

Stephen Colbert made the obligatory pass at water-related jokes, but then he made a more curious — and perhaps adventurous — decision to go after ABC News’ broadcast of the speech in Spanish. Specifically, he had a lot of fun with the fact that ABC’s subtitle-generating speech-recognition software is not also language-recognition software, and transcribed Rubio’s words as though he was speaking en Ingles — to predictably hilarious results.

I call the decision curious because I’ve had ample opportunity to note that Stephen Colbert’s speech-transcription software often has trouble of its own with what he has to say… and he’s speaking in English. I usually watch The Colbert Report with the aid of subtitles because I am on a noisy treadmill, and began to pay closer attention than usual after the Rubio speech in the hope of catching an outrageously egregious mistake.

Since I began to pay close attention, I’ve come across no shortage of absurd transcriptions, but nothing so good it was worth interrupting my run to hit PrtSc and save an image of it.

Until now.

OK, in all fairness, the following screenshot was taken from The Daily Show — but they’re basically the same show, and they certainly use the same software. That technicality out of the way, some quick background: the offending clip contains John Hodgman’s response to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Myriad Genetics that naturally-occurring human genetic material cannot be patented.

You can watch him attempt to collect saliva, facial hair, and toenails from John Oliver — or you can just look at this:

Rectal scrape

Hodgman actually asked for a “rectal scrape” — hardly more appetizing — but I prefer to think that the named food item is what happens when you let a British person do the cooking.


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