(Stephen Colbert/Shepard Fairey)
Stephen Colbert wows Vancouver crowd
Hundreds of people stood in a muddy park under bright skies in Vancouver on Wednesday, cheering faux U.S. pundit Stephen Colbert as he taped a TV show in the Olympic city.
"It's 11:30 at night and the sun's still shining ~ and they wonder why there's no snow here," Colbert shouted as he recorded an opening for his late night program, The Colbert Report.
The week before the games, Colbert was encouraging his viewers to purchase an air sealed bubble envelope and fill it with snow and mail it to Vancouver so that there could be games since they unthinkingly did consult the natural climate of British Columbia. Every few years, on schedule, we have a warmish winter with almost no snow. This has been recorded now for a few hundred years.
Colbert was mobbed by autograph seekers as he entered the compound where the show was taped.
"This is the most polite mob I've ever seen," he remarked, in another of his tongue-in-cheek slights against Canadians.
who came to see a special Vancouver taping of his weeknight TV show. (CBC)
How can you not love this man? Brilliant, sharp, and able to skew kings and presidents so slyly they are forced to laugh along with everyone else!
Vancouver native Michael Bublé appeared as a guest and was challenged by Colbert at the end of the interview to sing O Canada to the tune of The Star Spangled Banner.
The pair sang the mangled anthem together, occasionally managing to be in tune.
"He was great," said Bublé later. "I love the irony. I love the way he gets in character and I think it's really cool the way he takes the mickey out of himself and out of America, and I think that there's a reason why he's so popular."
Yes, he insults everyone equally in a delightful upbeat way. And he uses words that clearly display his brilliant wit. Sort of the way Bill Hicks or George Carlin were incisive and got across their point only Steven wears a suit and looks like Wall Street.
The comedian, whose mainstay is his portrayal of a right-wing zealot broadcaster, also has frequently taken the mickey out of Canadians.
Colbert launched a campaign last fall to help raise funds for the cash-strapped U.S. Olympic speedskating team. His efforts raised $50,000 more than the $300,000 goal.
While he was at it, Colbert started harping on Canadian Olympic officials for allegedly not allowing the Americans to get in enough practice laps at the oval, the event's venue in Richmond, B.C.
He also took shots at Canadians in general, calling them syrup-suckers, Saskatchew-whiners and ice-holes. (Gotta love that)
The city of Richmond responded by offering Colbert the unpaid job of official ombudsman of the Oval. Colbert took up the challenge ~ sort of.
"I have no idea what an ombudsman is, but as long as it requires no effort from me, I proudly accept," he told viewers.
The show Colbert taped Wednesday is scheduled to air next week.Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/british-columbia/story/2010/02/17/bc-colbert-vancouver-taping.html#ixzz0fuQ5IsGN
The lighting of the Olympic flame during the Vancouver 2010 opening ceremony.
Remember, please, the Canadian Prime Minister, Steven Harper is not a man known for his sense of humour. This is a man who had to take classes on how to smile and hold a baby for the last election. This man is uncomfortable with himself and the world as it is, unless he is with his Lubavitch buddies when he actually smiles freely.
He is the politician who actually is on record as saying, angrily, with a straight face "I don't think I can be accused of ever seducing anyone ~ including my wife" in response to an accusation of seducing a member of another party onto his "team".
Yes, he really did.
It is not easy to be the man who is busy being a petty dictator, turning his country into a fascist state, ruining our good international reputation, running us into debt, and states Canada will literally die for, of all places, Israel. So no humour to be found there.
A few months ago inhabitants of the Lower Mainland and all the way up to Whistler, were sent booklets advising us how to serve British Columbia best while the games were in operation.
Any Canuck going to the games or even being seen on the street was advised to "dress appropriately", smarten up the looks, learn all there is to know about the games, make up before dashing to the local corner store for milk, know all the local entertainments, facts and figures, and be unfailingly polite, and not to "chat" overlong because that might seem "too pushy". I doubt any of us paid much attention to any of it.
The money could have been spent on something more important like ~ going back into the kitty to help pay off this humongous party most of us do NOT feel good about. Yah, bah humbug and all that stuff. But the last games here caused real estate to double in value and ordinary folk like me had our rents doubled within the year. I guess that is good for the haves, but for the common peons, not so much.
What the pamphlet failed to acknowledge is the simple fact that people move here for the casual ocean side outdoorsy lifestyle! West Coast chic is a style that does not include putting on mascara to run to the grocer or put on a three piece suit to go out for dinner. It is all about action and ease and comfort with flair.
Anyhow the following article is amusing at best. Just to be contrary, I am tempted to put on my atrocious British accent, look as snooty as possible, and croak out "We are not amused" but cannot manage a straight face to do so. However, I will practice for the London Games in 2012.
over the Winter Olympics
Britain is next
By Marina Hyde
18 February 2010
Vancouver needs to stop being so touchy about criticism of the 2010 Games. Ridicule is all part of the Olympic ideal.
Could I please insert 'ordeal' instead of 'ideal'? Pity the poor locals dealing with traffic.
"Piss off Brits," concludes a furious email typical of the Guardian's Vancouver Olympics mailbag, "and stop producing so many ugly women."
I was shocked to read that. Honestly I was. A sure decline in manners, welcome to the Amerification of Canada. What people forget is that even Brits have feelings too! Personally, although I stand up for human rights, I also stand up for courtesy and dignity, unless a good sucker punch is required ~ and this was not such a case.
"I am deeply disappointed at the tone of this article," fumes a response to my colleague Martin Kelner's intentionally amusing article about the unintentionally amusing opening ceremony, "and the tone of many Brits or expat Brits enjoying the hospitality of our country." To which the only appropriate reply is: do lighten up, Canada! Sorry for coming over all capital letters about it, but Olympic hosts are SUPPOSED to be teased. You basically pay billions of dollars for the world to laugh at you. Deal with it.
It's not like the merriment gets in the way of the sport. It's the après-sport, if you will ~ something that happens around the edges, but in its way as much a part of every Games fortnight as the competition itself. Treating anything reverently bar the sport is creepy. Even the founder of the modern Olympics, Baron de Coubertin, appeared to tacitly understand that the Games were war by other means, for all their facile message of world peace.
This is why Australian comedians Roy and HG scored such a hit with their nightly TV show during the Sydney Games, and it is why Vancouver is made for the latest stunt from the brilliant Steven Colbert, whose gift for debunking sacred cultural events is becoming second to none.
When a key US sponsor went bust the Colbert Report star got his viewers to raise $300,000 of donations to take their place, and it is in this guise as a faux right-wing talk show host ~ who just happens to be funding the US speed skating team ~ that he arrived in Vancouver this week.
The artist behind the iconic Obama poster has created an image of Colbert holding a torch astride a bald eagle, which fans are being encouraged to post "all over Vancouver".
"Vancouver 2010," reads the slogan. "Defeat the world!"
This poster was the result with an on-show interview with a gentleman who showed that, until 1976, when the Olympics became corporate driven and sponsored, there had always be a human being striving for his or her best.
After the corporate takeover, the posters became bland and never showed people. Generic corporate logos .. Then they looked at the Vancouver poster, a sad affair, and came up with Colbert's immediate solution, the flag at the top of the page.
I suspect Canadians will get the joke, because they are by and large a nation of good sports ~ much better than the Americans, of course, but then who isn't? Apart from the Chinese and stuff.
Oh so true about Communist China. Laughter is forbidden!
Which brings us to another of the most magical things about the Olympics. For 16 days every two years you get a free pass to joke about questions of national character without feeling like your least reconstructed relative.
And so it is that when you hear that Switzerland haven't won gold in any Alpine event since Calgary ~ Calgary! 1988! ~ you are perfectly within your rights to shriek:
"Jesus, Switzerland ~ buck up. Alpine events are what you DO. Hello? Are you failing to medal in cuckoo-clock competitions as well? Did you accidentally publish every murderous dictator's banking details online?"
So it is, too, that news the Olympic flag would be borne into the stadium last Friday by eight famous Canadians was the cue for the rest of the world to chortle:
"Wait, there are eight famous Canadians? Are they exhuming bodies?"
Laughed myself silly at that one. Of course everyone knows of at least 8 famous Canadians. You do, don't you? You DON'T?!!!!! Let me see if I can rhyme of a list without reverting to a search.
Hmmm ~ Celine Dione, Neil Young, Kiefer Sutherland, Dan Akroyd, Nickleback, Michael Buble, James Cameron (Avatar, The Titanic), David Foster, Nelly Furtado, Leonard Cohen, Wayne Gretsky, KD Lang, Art Linkletter, Avril Levigne, Howie Mandel, Sarah McLochlin, The Band... the list goes on. I list no politicians however because they all sold out to America ages ago.
The Brits are particularly entitled to laugh, because in two years the rest of the world will be laughing at us ~ and good on them. Please, did you see our eight‑minute spot in the Beijing closing ceremony? Find me any Brit who could contain their mirth at that and you will be holding a copy of the Daily Mail. It used the adjective "embarrassing". Even London's mayor was giggling.
So let them lacerate us in 2012.
We'll revel in the delicious shame.
Delete as you find applicable, but the fact is we are too irreverent/self-loathing/crap at stuff/ to take ourselves seriously. And anyway, hosting the Olympics means you paid for this stuff. It's your party and you can ridicule it if you want to.
Come 2012, London's bigwigs will be trying desperately to present a stage‑managed image of us to the world. Inevitably they will fail in various ways ~ mostly in a manner that will amuse us serfs ~ because hosting the Olympics is like going inside the Big Brother house. You might be able to put up a front for a day or two, but you can't hide your true nature for long. Blood will out.
How true this is! We had activists from every association in the western world converge on Vancouver to bare their griefs to all. There is an opportunity to be heard and possibly be heard. My Mother is of the opinion that this is the time when we should be on our finest behaviour to show the world how polite and law abiding we are. Hypocritical. Some of us are tired of going nowhere with courtesy.
So any Canadians upset by people giggling at their malfunctioning ice penises or bad weather need simply wait for what is going around to come around.
And make no mistake: no one will be cheerily undermining London 2012 more than the British themselves. It's what we do. To co-opt the most apposite cliché, were it an Olympic sport, we would win gold every time.
Heck yeah! You gave the world Monty Python. What could be sicker and slicker than that? On a more serious note, I do apologize for the bad tempered responses from "true Canadians". As a true Canadian, I tell you these folks do not know how to laugh at themselves. You know all about it. Look at 3/4 of the "Royals"!
Colbert to meet 'ice-holes' face to face
Stephen Colbert is finally going to meet some of the "ice-holes" he's been mocking all this time.
After months of lampooning Canadians and Olympic ideals, the American satirist is in Vancouver, facing his chance to don the pink hat of the Olympic Oval ombudsman.
Despite the jaunty chapeau, Canadians shouldn't expect a sheepish Colbert on his visit to the Olympic city.
A down-loadable poster he's offered to fans shows a cartoon Colbert holding high an Olympic torch while riding a bridled eagle. The poster reads "Vancouver 2010, Defeat the World!"
Actually this message can be read a few ways. He could be ordering Vancouver to defeat the world, or he could be speaking to America as a backhand slap over its political aggressiveness. With Colbert you can not really tell at times, part of his double-edged brilliance.
Colbert is taping two episodes of his show, The Colbert Report, at a downtown Vancouver park next to the Science Centre Wednesday and Thursday mornings. His website invites fans to "help spread the word about his historic visit to Canada."
Colbert has poked fun at the Olympics and Canada on his show for the last several months, calling Canadians "syrup-suckers," "ice-holes" and Saskatche-whiners.
He complained that Olympic organizers weren't giving speed skaters from other countries enough practice time on the ice.
Appointed oval ombudsman
The City of Richmond, the home of the Olympic speed skating venue, offered Colbert the job of official oval ombudsman, which he accepted during his show.
Ted Townsend, media spokesman for Richmond, issued the invite. He did interview after interview, reading the letter he sent to Colbert, all the while sporting the pink toque the city expects the ombudsman to wear.
Townsend hopes Colbert will put on the uniform.
"Just the pink toque is all that's required to bring the sense of gravitas to the position," Townsend said, tongue in cheek.
But Townsend admitted he doesn't expect much from Colbert, noting that he accepted the job as long as it didn't require him to do anything.
"He is working ~ if you can call it that ~ for NBC," Townsend said. "He expects to be quite busy, but we're still hoping we have a chance to meet up with him at some point."
Colbert, whose show is on the cable channel Comedy Network in Canada, made an arrangement with NBC to be allowed to film inside the oval. In exchange, he will join Bob Costas for a commentary on NBC.
Raised funds for team
If nothing else, Colbert has improved the exposure of both the Olympic Games and speed skating.
When he found out the U.S. speed skating team lost its sponsor, he rallied fans to contribute $300,000 US for the team.
He also appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated in a speed skating suit.
Antonio Faiola, media spokesman for the Canadian long-track speed skating team, is a fan of Colbert and watches his show often. "
I think from an awareness perspective it's been good for the sport. People that didn't even know about speed skating, now all of a sudden, there's an awareness."
As for Colbert's visit to the oval, Faiola doesn't expect the comedy star to be a distraction.
He said the athletes have trained too long and hard to let something like that derail their medal hopes.
Townsend, for his part, isn't worried that Colbert may not wear the pink hat, adding the exposure for Richmond has been tremendous.
"It did catch on like wildfire and got a lot of media exposure across the country and even more so was picked up on line by people blogging and tweeting and things like that."
Townsend said Colbert reaches an audience that doesn't necessarily tune in to a lot of traditional media and allowed the City of Richmond to introduce itself to that crowd.
He also said it shows Americans that Canadians can take some ribbing.
"It's all in good fun and at the same time showed that Canadians can take a joke and make a joke."