After video from last night’s mayoral debate went viral, it was the question everyone was asking.
No, not “Who is Paul Tay?” Anyone who has lived in Tulsa for any amount of time gets used to the wild, attention-grabbing antics of the perennial mayoral candidate. (Though, for the record, he says he’s quite serious about wanting to be mayor.)
The real question was: Who’s the Matt Damon lookalike that Paul Tay calls out as he’s about to be escorted off stage?
“C’mon, Matt Damon — get me out of here!”’
His name is Lars Lindtner, he’s Norwegian (of course) and works as a cameraman occasionally for RSU-TV, because the 23-year-old just graduated from college at Rogers State University. He came to the United States to play college soccer and hopes to land a job in media and communications.
The Frontier caught up with him this morning right after he’d finished his workout (of course).
And he really does look like a young Matt Damon. He gets that a lot.
Last night, however, was his first encounter with Tay. The mayoral candidate and cycling advocate has become infamous around town in recent years for his quirky protests and antics, such as pulling an inflatable penis behind his bicycle in traffic.
Lindtner was busy looking into the camera he was operating for the live TV debate, focused on Mayor Dewey Bartlett and his opponent, councilor G.T. Bynum. Lindtner noticed someone behind him was taking lots of pictures while he filmed, but he didn’t realize it was a mayoral candidate.
Three other candidates, including Tay, were not invited to participate in the debate. Tay was unhappy about it, and chose to bum rush the stage during closing remarks. It caught everyone by surprise and cut the live broadcast short.
(For the record, The Frontier is co-sponsoring a debate with The League of Women Voters of Metropolitan Tulsa on June 15. All candidates are invited, but Mayor Dewey Bartlett hasn’t accepted the League’s invitation.)
Lindtner said he was confused when Tay first walked into his camera view.
“At first when he walked up on stage there I thought it was maybe part of the show — like he was maybe a sponsor or something,” Lindtner said. “Then he started yelling at our crew, (general manager) and moderator — it didn’t seem right.”
The situation escalated inside TCC’s downtown studio, and Lindtner and another cameraman left their cameras to intervene.
“I got kind of concerned, so me and my coworkers just left our cameras and just stood by in case punches were thrown,” he said.
Eventually, Tay yelled: “C’mon, Matt Damon — get me out of here!”’
It’s the comment everyone has seized on since the video clip blew up.
But Lindtner wasn’t laughing at the time — it was surreal, he said.
“I was kind of shocked that he would call me Matt Damon,” he said. “You’ve got to be quick on your feet to catch that in the heat of the moment.” (The memes have started just as quickly.)
— Ziva Branstetter (@ZivaBranstetter) June 2, 2016
Fortunately, it was only verbal sparring. Security was called, Tay was escorted out of the TCC studio and seemed to calm down, Lindtner said.
Lindtner said he suspects getting escorted out was part of Tay’s plan all along. Tulsa’s mayoral race and the current presidential primary process have been an interesting introduction to our politics for Lindtner.
“American politics is never boring,” he said. “I chose the right place to work in television.”