The full package: Colbert on ice (and video)
LAKE PLACID, N.Y.// By the time you see Stephen Colbert’s wild ride on his Comedy Central show, it’ll be a neatly packaged laugh riot.
But in no way will it resemble reality.
The host of The Colbert Report was a passenger aboard a four-man bobsled and steered himself on a skeleton sled in the weekend’s final hours as dusk settle over Mount Van Hoevenberg.
The boblsled ride for most civilians starts partway down the mile-long tube of ice, the office for Olympians in training and the site of many World Cup competitions.
But Sunday’s driver, world champion Steve Holcomb, said Stephen Colbert insisted on “the full treatment.” Let the record show Holcomb then smirked.
As someone who took a ride several years ago with World Cup gold medalist John Napier, I can tell you the full treatment is like being squeezed into a metal garbage can with a dozen little demons pounding the outside with hammers.
The sensation was enough to derail the Olympic dreams four years ago of NHL tough guy Chris Chelios and alpha surfer Laird Hamilton who hoped to slide for the Greek team.
But I digress.
Colbert donned a hideous speed suit with bumper stickers on the butt and a sock or some other soft material stuffed up front to give the 45-year-old comedian a manly appearance worthy of a Viagra commercial.
He chose to ride in the No. 3 spot as dead weight between pusher Justin Olsen and brakeman Curtis Tomasevicz -- both part of Holcomb’s Night Train team. Pusher Steve Mesler gave up his seat to Colbert in return for some TV face time.
The ride took about 60 seconds, enough time for a producer to whip the remaining World Cup crowd into a pretend frenzy and chants of “U-S-A.”
At the finish line, Colbert wiggled out of the sled, looking like the dazed, nearsighted man without his glasses he is.
But then the ham in him kicked in. He addressed the crowd. He waved his helmet. He grabbed an American flag and waved that, too.
“I had my shoulders up around my ear canal and my head was slamming against the side of this thing,” he told the crowd. “It felt like I was the Liberty Bell,” he said, still breathing heavily.
But wait. Something wasn’t right. Take two, without the bobsled ride. This time Colbert was more composed.
He was driven in a conventional vehicle to the medals ceremony for the four-man competition, where he handed out medals, applauded the athletes and stood at attention as the national anthem was played and cameras snapped away.
Then, he returned to the track for his second Mitty-esque moment: a ride on a skeleton sled.
With some coaching from U.S. slider Zack Lund, he took his face-first ride down the final quarter-mile of the track.
Gravity ran out of gas (better laughs) and Colbert slowed to a stop far short of the finish line. He walked the last 25 yards uphill.
Multiple takes later, with the sun dipping behind the mountain, the producer pronounced herself satisfied.
“You’re not going to post that before we can air it, are you?” asked another producer, eyeing The Sun’s video camera. “You’ll spoil it for everyone.”
Well, not everyone.