5 o’ Clock Shadow: Spectacles

5 o' Clock Shadow - 12 April 2007

One of the things I like about The Colbert Report is how Stephen Colbert handles his glasses. It’s easy enough to add dramatic emphasis by whipping off one’s glasses and gesticulating angrily, but what I really enjoy is the way Stephen pushes his glasses up on his nose. It’s a simple motion, but Colbert does it very deliberately and with an air of dignity.

As a spectacle-wearer, I’m all too familiar with the tendency of eyewear to slide down the bridge of the nose. Short of nailing the silicone pads in place, there’s little that can be done to prevent the friction-reducing effects of moisture and skin oils from allowing gravity to dragging my glasses inexorably toward the center of the Earth.

Over the past twenty (!) years, I’ve developed a technique for pushing my glasses up on my nose, but since The Colbert Report premiered I realized that my method — thumb and forefinger placed on either side of the nose, drawn upward and coming together at the bridge, bringing the glasses up with them — is inelegant, if not downright Cro-Magnon.

Colbert employs two methods when adjusting his glasses. The first, which I am demonstrating in today’s five o’ clock shadow photo is to grasp the top and bottom of one lens and lift the glasses into their preferred position. This method, done properly, is powerful and effective, exuding confidence, style and class. Executed poorly, it makes you look like the mutant superhero Cyclops (fear my eye beams!), who even the most die-hard X-Men fan will admit is a complete tool.

The second method Colbert uses—pushing directly on the bridge with his middle finger, his index finger curled toward his palm but his ring and little fingers splayed apart. This method is more emphatic and deliberate than the first, but positioning hand and wrist in front of the face makes it somewhat less dignified. This method works best during a dramatic pause, while the frame-adjust method can be executed at any time.

Regardless of the method, I admire Colbert’s ability to inject drama and even gravitas into the simplest of activities, and use it to enhance the character he has created for The Colbert Report. Don’t ever switch to contacts, Stephen.

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