Life

Stephen Colbert Does My Dad

Sparked by a Tyee story, the TV satirist sent a crew to 'do' Andrew Feldmar. His son's report.

By Marcel Feldmar 20 Aug 2007 | TheTyee.ca

Marcel Feldmar is a poet and a member of the Black Kites band, which you can hear here.

Linda Solomon, who wrote the original article about Andrew Feldmar's troubles at the border, publishes online the lively and newsy Vancouver Observer.

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[Editor's note: Tonight (Monday, Aug. 20), The Colbert Report will air a segment on Vancouver psychotherapist Andrew Feldmar's troubles with U.S. Customs. The show airs on Comedy Central at midnight. Linda Solomon broke this story on April 23. It appeared on Solomon's Vancouver Observer and The Tyee simultaneously, then hit the blogosphere, triggered coverage by The Globe and Mail and the New York Times, and along the way was spotted by someone who worked for The Colbert Report. The famed satiric right-wing talking head Colbert sent a crew to film Feldmar and his son Marcel in Vancouver last week. They filmed the senior and junior Feldmars in the psychologist's Vancouver home and then at the U.S.-Canadian border. Here is an account by Marcel Feldmar of the day.]

Hello. This is Marcel Feldmar with The Feldmar Report on The Colbert Report on Andrew Feldmar.

Leaving my home in L.A. for a quick, almost rock-star jaunt to Vancouver, I arrive on a recent Monday night at 10 p.m. My father Andrew picks me up and we go back to the house for a little snack, a couple of his famous martinis, a little talk about how strange this all is, and then bed...

Andrew wakes me up at 5:30 in the morning to get ready, with enough time to have coffee before the film crew arrives. They say they'll be there at six, and sure enough, at 6 a.m. sharp they are at the door.

They take about an hour to case the joint and set up, and everyone is really friendly and professional -- taking their shoes off, and being extra polite, which is kind of strange because it seems to me that around L.A. all the people constantly filming get a little rude and obnoxious. They do a great job at making both Andrew and I feel comfortable and at ease. I think it is probably to make up for the insults they are going to be throwing at us later.

Keep a straight face

So, the way The Colbert Report seems to operate is pretty much to push as far towards the Conservative as possible in order to make it come across as just wrong. Jeff, the producer, does the interview, his assistant Aaron is there, a cameraman, and a sound guy. Jeff sits with Andrew and asks questions like "How does it feel to be a druggie?" "Where do you hide your stash?" and "Are you high right now?" I'm trying hard to not laugh out loud -- and Andrew holds his own and hams it up -- saying things like: "High? Yes, I am just over six feet high." And "I'm not having flashbacks, you are."

Thinking back on it, I can see how they could easily edit the clips into some crazy video mash-up of a crazy man in a nice house, but I'm just hoping they don't make too much fun of us.

They have Andrew light and smoke a pipe while arguing about how he doesn't smoke a pipe, stir a cup of tea for about three minutes, meditate, and listen to my iPod while looking a little blissed out. "Do it with great beatitude." Jeff instructs. Little shots for what they call the "B" roll. Then, after having referred to me as a "Bongo Poet," they do a little interview with me outside, asking if I was teased in school because my dad was a "hippie," and if perhaps it was harder to mail drugs over the border now.

They do a shot of me holding my poetry chapbooks and then standing and looking cool outside.

I do mention my band, the Black Kites, saying how it is a shame that my dad can't even see us play because he's banned from entering the U.S. But who knows what will get cut.

They mention they might want to use some of our music, but nothing else is said about that so I don't think it will happen. They might have used up their Canadian Drug Story budget on airplane tickets.

To the border

I manage to get a few nice pictures, sort of behind-the-scenes style. It is definitely interesting seeing my parents' house transformed into a small set location. They do a couple of cheesy things -- like hang a Canadian flag behind Andrew and a U.S. flag behind me. (I was supposedly supposed to be "on location in Los Angeles," so the flag is there to prove it, I guess.)

Then, speaking of cheesy, they have me play a silly little drum thing -- definitely not my style, and not my sound -- but I figure I've played the Bongo Poet role and I just go with it. I state that if my band sees this they will be so making fun of me... (The band has confirmed this fact.) I don't manage to be as clever or as witty as Andrew, but that's OK. I think I hold my own.

Then we go for a drive, past Crescent Beach, down to 0 Avenue, to do some filming by the little border statues, or metal posts, that I had never seen before, but I guess they run along the road as border markers every couple of miles. It is all fields and farmland where we end up, and the posts are stamped with United States on one side and Canada on the other. They film Andrew standing at one, after leading the camera crew through the brush, saying, "Follow me, it's over here. This is it, as far as I can go." Then to a different border spot where Andrew looks forlornly into the distance, and then they have him looking through binoculars, and it all sort of has that bad after-school special or Hallmark movie-of-the-week feel to it.

A shocking turn

There is a barbed wire fence running all along the field by the second border stop, about four feet high, and I am bending down trying to get some "artsy" photos, when all of a sudden I am literally knocked over by what feels like a kick to the head. I sit on the ground slightly stunned, and the only person who notices is the soundman, who looks over at me and mouths, "Electric?" I sigh and nod, whispering back, "Electric."

I think my cell phone got a bit frazzled by the experience, but I am alright, and very thankful that it wasn't captured on film.

Then they have me stand on one side of the marker, and him on the other. The camera is framing a close-up on Andrew so you can't tell that I am there, and then like the end of a sad movie, they reveal me standing there -- so close -- but we can't touch.

"I love you son."

"I love you too, dad."

And then we sigh, turn and walk away in opposite directions.

That's a wrap

After all of this, the hours of footage they shot will have to be cut down to 3.5 minutes. That's where, I guess, the magic comes in. For all I know they will show Andrew stirring a cup of tea, and me playing a bongo badly, and leave it at that.

Seriously though, I think Andrew did really well. It should be a pretty funny segment -- and a little bit silly too (hopefully in a good way).

We leave the crew at the border stop because they are going off to interview a U.S. border guard, probably to ask him if he got a medal for keeping out the undesirables, and if his family is really proud of him, and Andrew and I go straight to the airport. I manage to get a seat on an earlier flight, so we part ways at the airport -- him off to London, me to L.A.

A surreal and strange adventure, and definitely worth the trip. Even if this doesn't solve the border issues, I hope it helps get the word out there, and maybe someday (soon) they will allow Andrew to travel freely in the States, to help people who need help, to visit his children, to just be who he is.  [Tyee]

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