Some stories are too priceless to sit on while you wait for all the details.
I mention this because there's a chance that comedian Stephen Colbert of Comedy Central's The Colbert Report really is an unpleasant individual.
Although I'm a devoted fan of the program—Colbert is hilariously offset and infinitely better than Jon Stewart, who became irretrievably self-righteous and smug several years ago—I won't pretend I have any true glimpse into his character.
The television lens can work funny magic on people (or so I'm told), and I've never met the man.
Nor have I met Shani Davis, a 27-year-old speedskater from the United States of America.
Nevertheless, in the wake of Davis' recent remarks to the Canadian Press, I'm thinking the first black athlete to win a gold medal for an individual event at the Winter Olympics might want to pump his brakes. Maybe even throw it in reverse.
Either that or begin answering to the same "jerk" moniker he attached to the dude who tells JOKES for a living.
For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, the story goes like this...
Some foreign—I think Dutch—bank collapsed under the weight of the falling global economy, and this bank was the primary sponsor for American speedskating (irony everywhere you turn). Consequently, the skaters for Old Glory were left sans funds with the Winter Games bearing down on them.
Colbert and possibly Comedy Central/Viacom jumped into the void.
The host announced that the show's audience, which he calls "Colbert Nation," would sponsor the team and raise the money via a fundraising link on the show's website. The plan has been a success to date, raising some dough as well as providing Colbert with ample fodder for his shtick.
The latter has consisted of a two-pronged humor blitz.
Prong A has been the placing of speedskaters in heavy rotation due to The Colbert Nation logo featured on the new uniforms. Prong B has consisted of The Daily Show alumnus giving both barrels to Canada for some nonsense regarding practice time on the ice or something.
Apparently, what starts in fun really does end in tears. At least as far as the aforementioned Davis is concerned.
As the FOX Sports link mentions, Davis has some ties to Canada, and that's apparently enough to take the edge off the gag in his mind.
Again, perhaps that's not fair to Shani—one would hope there's something more to the story than just a grown man in the public eye taking a harmless poke in the ribs too seriously. One would hope that Davis has some other axe to grind with the late night staple and it's got more substance to it.
Furthermore, let's not kid ourselves about the altruistic intent of Stephen Colbert and the other powers-that-be behind the stunt. They deserve a standing ovation for stepping up to the plate to help athletes representing our country, but they're also getting a lot of run from it.
Just wait for the actual Games to start—that's when the real publicity jackpot hits.
And that's kind of the point.
Even looking at the situation while giving all reasonable benefits of the doubt to him, Shani Davis still comes off as yet another self-centered, me-me-me prima donna athlete. We have enough of those already without flippin' speedskating producing them.
Even if the court jester is a jerk, and the sponsorship is merely a way to spread his celebrity, the fact remains that the US speedskating team needed a sponsor and needed one fast.
Stephen Colbert is the face of the collective white horse that rode to the rescue. His "Nation" is footing a large part of the bill for the entire team to go to the Winter Olympics.
I can think of better times to make the "jerk" argument.
Unless you're making it about Shani Davis.
For the record, Davis seemed like a good sport on the 1/20/10 episode where he actually raced Colbert. As an added bonus, the bit is funny and Davis looks really fast on ice (to someone who has absolutely zero frame of reference).