Stephen Colbert excels at packing corn

The circus that was comedian Stephen Colbert's testimony on migrant workers before Congress this week had an Ulster County connection: Colbert's expertise in migrant issues was earned during a one-day stint of work at Gill Corn Farms in the town of Hurley.

We're sure you're already seen Colbert's testimony itself (if not, you can see his opening statement above, thanks to C-Span and the PBS NewsHour), but maybe you haven't seen the excellent Daily Freeman article interviewing John Gill, the owner of Gill Farms, about Colbert's day there.

According to Gill, Colbert was especially good at packing corn:

“He’s a very intelligent, very articulate person,” Gill said of Colbert. “He picks up on anything, one, two, three. I was really impressed with the way he picked up on packing corn. ... These are skilled jobs with skilled labor, and he just picked up it real quick, which is unusual.”

Gill tells the Freeman that Colbert also picked beans and, like any exuberant farm newbie, insisted on operating the ice blower:

“He wanted to do a myriad of jobs,” Gill said. “We took him through making crates ... and he packed corn for a while, then we took him out in the field to pick beans. He wanted to pick beans so we had him doing that — that was hilarious — and then he iced the truck. He wanted to run the ice blower.”

Corn packing came up during the hearing, too.

After his opening statement, Colbert took questions during the two-hour hearing. One question, according to the Washington Post, was from Representative Steve King, from high-corn-density Iowa, who was suspicious about Colbert's corn bona fides:

King at one point implied that Colbert may not have actually loaded corn during his visit to the New York farm, and Rep. Charles Gonzalez (D-Tex.) yielded his time so the funnyman could respond.

Colbert: "Were you implying that I was not actually doing work I was depicted as doing?"

King: "I was watching you unloading crates rather than loading crates. It looked like corn was going in the wrong direction."

Gonzalez: "Which direction is the corn going, Mr. Colbert?"

Colbert: "I put it in the trucks and iced it down so it wouldn't go through the process where sugar turns to starch. I was a corn-packer. I know that term is offensive to some people because corn-packer is a derogatory term for a gay Iowan."

Gonzalez: "I will definitely reclaim my time at this point."