Colbert introduces the 32-year-old New Yorker, whose full name is Regina Ilyinichna Spektor, as "a singer, songwriter, and pianist who was born in the Soviet Union."
It's no secret that Spektor, whose classically laced 2004 album was titled "Soviet Kitsch," is Moscow-born.
Still, Colbert pokes fun at Americans' Cold War- and "reset"-era notions of Russians, invoking the long tradition of famous agents, from Angelina Jolie's sleeper agent Evelyn Salt to Anna Chapman.
"I'm not sure whether to trust you," Colbert quips, "literally translating" her name as "Queen Ghost."
"You sound like a sexy Bond villain. And there's...something behind that, you realize, is that you were born in the Soviet Union. OK. How do I know you're not a spy?"
"How do you know I've not come here to take American jobs?" a giggling Spektor fires back at the wise-cracking parody of political conservatism.
But asked about her emigration to the United States, Spektor gets touchingly earnest as she tells her story:
She says she spoke "not a word" of English when she arrived in the United States, and lights up when Colbert asks if she still speaks Russian.
She gets in a plug for the upcoming tour for her new album, "What We Saw From The Cheap Seats," saying that this summer she's "going back for the first time since I've left in 1989."
"You're going back?" Colbert seizes the bait. "So you've gathered enough information. Someone from the old country called you and used the trigger word."
You'll have to watch the video to see how she responds to Colbert's request that she curse for him in Russian. (Boys will be boys.) But she humors him a bit, and what comes out is unaccented Russian that makes the normally shameless TV host blush.
"This is a wonderful person. I love him. Thank the Lord that he exists in America and elsewhere in the world," she says, hinting at Colbert's (and other U.S. political satirists') de facto roles as cultural ambassadors.
WATCH: The exchange on Spektor's Russian heritage starts around the 1:30 mark:
So Spektor might well have produced one of the most widely viewed and poignant snippets of unsubtitled Russian in America since "A Fish Called Wanda" (PG-Rated clip here).
"Filter Magazine" has suggested Spektor "may be the best thing Russia has given the world since Vodka." That's a cringeworthy stretch. But let's face it, most Americans don't encounter much Russian-bred talent in their daily lives.
So I want to see Spektor succeed when she takes her socially conscious songs to Russia.
But I also hope to see her Russian counterparts make a splash on the U.S. cultural scene. Anything to counter the less benign impressions of Russia spawned by news and images of hooliganism at Euro 2012, police raids on activists' homes in Moscow, and dire predictions for Putin II.
-- Andy Heil