Stephen Col­bert gears up for the Olympics with plans for medals and mock­ery

Cape Breton Post - - TV Listings - BY JAKE COYLE

there record­ing a wealth of ma­te­rial for his show (to air beginning Feb. 22), at­tend­ing events, con­duct­ing in­ter­views and do­ing a kind of half-show from a stage set up out­side the Olympic cen­tre.

“ We’ll bring snow be­cause I don’t think Van­cou­ver has any,” he said in an in­ter­view, tak­ing a swipe at the city’s some­times wa­tery pre­cip­i­ta­tion.

Just as he has in­serted him­self into big events such as the 2008 elec­tion (dur­ing which he was briefly and il­le­git­i­mately a can­di­date) and the Iraq war (he did a week of shows from Bagh­dad in 2009), Col­bert has made him­self a key fig­ure for the XXI Olympic Games, which start to­day.

When the U.S. Speed­skat­ing team lost its pri­mary spon­sor last fall (the Dutch bank DSB went bank­rupt), the Re­port stepped in with a novel idea. The show’s ar­dent fans had pre­vi­ously raised siz­able amounts of money for char­ity, and the show sug­gested that the “Col­bert Na­tion” could spon­sor the skaters.

Fan do­na­tions filled the va­cancy by rais­ing more than $300,000. “Col­bert Na­tion” is branded on the team’s suits and Col­bert has had an ac­tive re­la­tion­ship with the squad.

The team has largely re­sponded with grat­i­tude. On his Com­edy Cen­tral show, Col­bert au­to­graphed the leg of speed­skater Katherine Reut­ter, on her re­quest. Robert Crow­ley, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of U.S. Speed­skat­ing, says Col­bert has brought “great at­ten­tion to our sport.” Apolo An­ton Ohno has also ap­plauded Col­bert’s hu­mour.

“I think he’s funny,” Ohno said ear­lier. “Our coun­try is kind of in need of some hu­mour right now, and it’s all for a good cause.”

But one of the team’s best skaters, 2006 gold medal­list Shani Davis, called Col­bert “a jerk,” seem­ingly be­cause Col­bert had mock­ingly com­plained that Canada was lim­it­ing train­ing time for for­eign ath­letes at Van­cou­ver venues.

Col­bert says Davis never ex­plained why he was up­set and says he never asked him. But for a par­tic­u­larly funny seg­ment on The Re­port, Davis and Col­bert faced off in a race where Davis eas­ily beat Col­bert de­spite a gi­ant head­start.

Col­bert says Davis was “a sweet­heart” while film­ing and that he “un­der­stood our jokes com­pletely.”

“I’ll like any­one who seems to like me,” he says.

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