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Stephen Colbert tapes TV show in Vancouver, Canadians meet their mocker

He may not be "America's Ballsiest Pundit," but he plays one on television.

Comedian Stephen Colbert has called Canadians "syrup suckers" and "iceholes," has threatened to punch beavers in the face, and has encouraged his fans to come up with lewd definitions of "Canada's history."

But thousands of Canadians welcomed the American satirist with cheers and applause today.

At around 10:30 a.m., Colbert appeared on stage to tape the first of two Vancouver-based episodes of his popular show, The Colbert Report. The shows are being filmed in Creekside Park next to Science World (or "Sochi World" for the Olympic period) and fans are once again invited to form the live audience at the 10 a.m. taping tomorrow.

Spectators began gathering before sunrise for today's show, though some wondered why they were lining up to enter an open field.

"We thought it was Colbert making a joke," said Michael MacKenzie, who described latecomers racing alongside early birds when all were allowed onto the grass.

When Colbert appeared on stage, he poked fun at the large turnout.

"Isn't there anything else to do in Vancouver?" he asked. Colbert also joked with the crowd between takes, asking them to enjoy his lines more than once. "I find the comedy gets so much fresher... Remember, this is TV y'all."

"I think we could have filled a stadium," said Ian Granville, another fan who explained that the advertising for the event had been relatively low-key and largely organized on Facebook and through word-of-mouth.

Some audience members brought their own props. Brian Verch placed a plastic penguin in the middle of a sectioned-off security zone; Cam Smith made a sign that read "These Iceholes love Colbert;" two huskies attended with their owners; and a few tents from Pivot Legal's red tent campaign were set up on the hills.

Colbert wasn't the only person to fuse comedy with current events. The Dogwood Initiative, an NGO focused on sustainability, responded to the comedian's instruction to "bring your own snow" by pushing in a wheelbarrow full of ice -- what they called a delivery from "Col-bear" nation. They also brought along a two-person polar bear mascot made entirely of recycled material.

Others had quirkier goals. Verch, who has been travelling the world with his plastic penguin for 19 years, said the bird was hoping to meet Colbert today. The chanting crowd also had collective objectives. Although they had failed to cajole Colbert into smoking an Olympic torch, they were able to persuade Bob Costas of NBC -- with chants of "Ride the Moose!" -- to mount the largest Canadian icon on stage.

"It was neat to see him come out," said MacKenzie, who appreciated the behind-the-scenes screw-ups and double takes. "He told us from the beginning to forgive him if he fucks up."

Even if you don't attend the tapings, you may still see Colbert's face all over the city. His latest instruction to "Colbert Nation" is to print off and post his official Vancouver 2010 Defeat the World poster.

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