Colbert feels the love, Vancouver sends it back
"If it were today," Stephen Colbert asked 1980 U.S. Miracle on Ice hockey hero Mike Eruzione, "and Al Michaels were Twittering, would it be called the OMG! on Ice?"
Here at the Twitter Olympics, the thousands on hand at False Creek this morning roared (and more than a few of them, including me, immediately tweeted the line). Sure, it was (mostly) scripted, to be edited and carefully packaged for future consumption. And sure, Colbert, out there in his U.S. speedskating team sweater, flashed his mock-outrage a few times. When the cameras were finally turned off, though, the U.S. TV comedy host stood in front of thousands of his “syrup-sucker” fans on (finally) a beautiful day and saluted them.
“This is a welcome that we couldn't have imagined in our wildest dreams,” said Colbert. “I want to take back everything I've said about Canada.”
I rather doubt that. But everyone bought it, at least for the moment, and sent the love right back with chants of “Ste-phen” and “Ride the Moose!” The prop list on stage included a stuffed moose and beaver, battered skis, a totem pole, a Frosty the Snowman, snowshoes, a penguin (a penguin! sheesh!) and a fan blowing fake snow into the air.
The Colbert Report, in town for two days of taping at the Vancouver 2010 Games, has made a living out of lampooning Canada and Canadian “Iceholes”. Colbert's right-wing talk-show persona flashed, albeit a little muted, as he taped segments with Canadian singer Michael Buble, Eruzione and NBC Olympics TV host Bob Costas. They waved signs - "Stewart Colbert 2012"; "Canuck You, Stephen!"; "Bring Back the Jets" - they chanted, their feet got really wet in the mud.
Buble, the Burnaby native, turned the tables some as he waited to be “interviewed”. "Let's not lower ourselves to Stephen Colbert's, er, lowerness!" he joked, the led the audience into a few bars of Stompin' Tom Connors' The Hockey Song.
At an Olympics where even David Letterman is ripping the organizers, this was a love-in. Colbert lauded Vancouverites as “friendly people, and incredibly easy to pander to” - they gave it right back to him.
“We would have died if we weren't up front,” said 27-year-old Monica Shree, who along with Armin Navabi (that's them in the photo above) was at Creekside Park by 5 a.m. staking out a spot. “He's great satire, great comedy. And he's such a positive person, you really felt the energy.”
Related: Colbert Nation to the Rescue (wsj.com).
UPDATE: Colbert and Michael Buble sing O Canada to the tune of the U.S. national anthem: