It was surely one of the most bizarre marriages of sport and pop culture. For the most part, it worked wonderfully well.
To actually see comedian Will Ferrell step out of a limo and into some downtown Winnipeg slush, then on into the MTS Centre in the garb and persona of "legendary" anchorman Ron Burgundy, was just plain weird.
Talk about juxtaposition. This will be one of the best curling tournaments in recent memory and there is, of course, plenty on the line for each of the sixteen teams. Each of them wants badly to represent Canada at the Sochi Olympics in February. This is as serious as serious can be in Canadian curling. Sixteen teams with very little to choose between them, competitively.
On the other side of that coin, Ron Burgundy, airheaded anchorman. In character or out, Ferrell has the ability to make anything hilarious just by being there. He did it again Sunday afternoon.
While some curling fans spent the week complaining that Burgundy's appearance would make a mockery of the sport they love, the comic relief was very likely welcome for the competitors, judging by the large amount of pictures and comments posted on twitter.
To those who felt this bizarre cross-pollination between the roaring game and the blow-dried mouth that roared was inappropriate? Lighten up. Burgundy pops in for a few hours, takes some pics, utters a few nonsensical and very funny comments and then disappears. Leaving the rest of the week to the serious matter of earning the maple leaf.
"There's a feeling of electricity in this building," Burgundy said, beginning a two-end stint in the booth. It was then that Vic Rauter explained why this tournament is kind of a big deal.
The schtick actually started out in very pedestrian fashion, leading me to feel "uh-oh, maybe this wasn't such a great idea." After a minute or two of awkwardness, the fun and games started to build some momentum.
Highlights of Burgundy's stay in the booth?
Linda Moore asking him to give an example of his vocal warm-up exercises. "The muscular man from Manitoba... touched his man-boobs," he replied.
Burgundy was then challenged to meet Rauter's excellence with a few of Vic's well-known phrases. He flawlessly and comedically worked in an "oh my, oh my, oh my" on a routine freeze to a stone in the back four foot, before bellowing out "make the final!" as a Chelsea Carey stone rolled out of the rings, giving Jennifer Jones a steal of two in the third end.
When Russ Howard tried to teach him how to use the telestrator, Burgundy filled the house with a meandering, squiggly line and Howard said "that's a tougher shot." Burgundy replied that he'd seen it accomplished "in '72."
"Speaking of the hog line," Burgundy declared a little later, "I understand most of the teams eat a diet rich in pork."
Burgundy's lighting up of the curling universe began before the broadcast, when he took the ice for a few shooting lessons from Glenn Howard. Prior to that, his arrival at Winnipeg's MTS Centre was documented in some raw video posted by the Canadian Curling Association. The sound isn't terrific, but you can catch the odd comment. If you listen closely you'll hear him ask if he's to be subjected to a cavity search.
Look. If Will Ferrell/Ron Burgundy is not exactly your tumbler of scotch, this was excruciating. For those of us who are fans, this was a spectacular merging of two of our favourite things: the sport of curling and very funny deadpan comedy.
Rauter summed it up perfectly when he said to Burgundy: "We thank you for bringing us this 'Afternoon Delight.'"
Now, the sideshow is over. On to the serious stuff. No harm done.
Stay classy, curling fans.