Stephen Colbert jokes about "Choose Topeka" program; GTP fires back

Published: Dec. 18, 2019 at 1:40 AM CST
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The Greater Topeka Partnership fought humor with humor.

Their new "Choose Topeka" program meant to help draw people to Topeka was the subject of jokes on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

The late-night comedy host read a portion of the story featured on CNN about the program.

Choose Topeka splits costs with businesses, up to $15,000, to pay rent or home-buying costs for new employees moving to the Capital City.

Colbert read from a news release from GO Topeka saying, “Choose Topeka was created with the intention of investing in employees to live and work in Topeka & Shawnee County, so that we may foster an 'intentional community'.'”

Colbert paused, then added, “That’s important. An 'intentional community.’ Because right now Topeka’s current residents are all drivers who ran out of gas on their way to anywhere else.”

The audience laughed at the joke, but Colbert didn’t stop there, finishing, “God love you Topeka.”

The Greater Topeka Partnership took it in stride. A video posted Wednesday evening to their Facebook page shows a woman walking down S. Kansas Ave. carrying a gas can. The Brew Bank catches her eye, and she steps inside to find a group of people having fun - with a pile of gas cans tossed aside in the corner.

It end with the tag line, "A great place to run out of gas," and the web site for the new program,


CNN’s story on the program's approval drew more than a thousand comments on their Facebook page, many of them asking how bad the city and Kansas must be if they're paying people to move there.

In response to the national attention, it brought praise from city leaders.

"This is an exciting validation of the work that went into developing this program,” said Mayor Michelle De La Isla. “Choose Topeka not only addresses an important need to attract talent to our community, but it is a powerful tool to provide many new people access to the funds needed to buy a home. Your American Dream begins today in Topeka."

Sometimes you run out of gas and end up exactly where you want to be. Thanks, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert! #LSSC

Posted by Greater Topeka Partnership on Wednesday, December 18, 2019