Stephen Colbert
Stephen Colbert's mother Lorna is reportedly seriously ill, and that may be the reason "The Colbert Report" has been temporarily suspended. Reuters

Before Herman Cain suspended his presidential campaign, he told critics offended by his unscripted remarks to get a sense of humor. And on Tuesday, he showed that he can take a joke even when he is its target.

It started last week, when Stephen Colbert, the irreverent host of Comedy Central's The Colbert Report, announced his candidacy for president of South Carolina. Then, when it came to his attention that it was too late to get his name on the ballot for this Saturday's South Carolina primary and that the Palmetto State doesn't allow write-ins, he urged viewers to vote for a surrogate candidate: Herman Cain.

Because Cain and I are so similar, I think that if this Saturday Herman Cain were to get a significant number of votes, that would be a sign that voters are hungry for a Stephen Colbert campaign, Colbert said with his usual straight face. Anyone who shares my values can show it by voting for Herman Cain.

Some Cain supporters cried foul, since Colbert's values, despite his on-air conservative-hardliner persona, could not be more different from Cain's. But Cain was in on the joke all along, Colbert having given him a heads up several days beforehand, and he was all for it.

On Stephen Colbert's endorsement of himself as Herman Cain, I find it very clever and humorous, as it should be, Cain told Fox News. Anyone who finds what Mr. Colbert is doing offensive should simply lighten up.

His spokeswoman, Kathy Hoekstra, added jokingly, The endorsement, of course, comes as a pleasant surprise.

According to Hoekstra, Cain is even participating in the joke: he will record a segment with Colbert on Friday.

But lest there be any confusion, Cain assured his supporters, To be perfectly clear, I will not be assuming Stephen Colbert's identity. We are very different when it comes to the color of our... hair.