Have you ever been walking by yourself, and you trip on a crack in the sidewalk? It's not as bad if it happens when you're with friends, because you can play it off. By yourself, you just look like a moron who can't walk properly, and people driving by will honk to mock you.
Crazy stuff happens to people all the time. From falling down a staircase while trick-or-treating to munching out when you go down a hill and off a ramp sideways in your cousin's back yard on a Big Wheel. I've always felt like a schmuck because my first impulse is to laugh. Even--and especially--when it's me.
Or my brother.
I don't like seeing people get hurt; it's not that. For some reason, I guess I'm just wired to find that kind of thing funny. I can't help it. I'd watch the opening credits of "The Wide World of Sports" just to watch the "Agony of Defeat" guy. I guess it's my, uh, single personality flaw.
So as you might imagine, those lame shows on TV that show nothing but clips like that are like gold to me, much to my embarrassment. I've been known to giggle like an 8-year-old girl almost to the point of tears at a montage of people falling in unusual ways on "AFV."
There are other shows that feature "amazing" video clips of weird stuff happening. I am sucked in to watching specials like this on TV. Sure, I can watch the clips online or see them as animated gifs, but I'm always curious to know what happened. Of course, most of the time, these shows are no help. They just show the clip 3 or 4 times, sometimes in slo-mo, and play ominous music. For example:
The best part is when the phrase "then, he plunges into darkness" comes up. Simply aces. Not surprisingly, an extensive investigation was unable to find who the guy was. Like people would volunteer that kind of information.
"Oh, guy's head up an elephant's butt? Oh, that was me."
I guess it was pretty scary, but you know the first thing people think when they see that is, "I wonder if it smelled like peanuts in there."
Can you imagine this guy going home and telling his family about it?
"Hi, honey, how was your day?"
"Charlie and I are going to go fishing next weekend, Phil found out his wife is having a girl, and my head went up an elephant's ass."
"What was that last part? I couldn't hear you."
"Never mind. Crappy day. What's for dinner?"
Along these lines, there's the following clip, which looks fake.
I first encountered it as an animated gif, which I then posted as a comment on my sister-in-law's MySpace page just to be a jerk. (Or a horse's ass, yes, I know. I'm all about taking the high road, okay?)
I'm not all about the misfortune of others. A bit, but not all. The infamous Grape Lady video, in which a live news feature on a grape festival goes awry, illustrates how important sound (or lack of it) is. It's a lot easier to laugh at people falling when you can't hear them crying in pain.
Of course, if you are a big, cynical jerk, which I may or may not be, you might find yourself laughing yourself to tears anyway, replaying it over and over, much to the disappointment of your wife.
To be fair, if the reporter hadn't cheated after she called time, she likely wouldn't have fallen. I hope she wasn't seriously hurt, of course; I'm not that insensitive. Nor am I insensitive enough to make a whine/wine joke at her expense.
But notice how hard the folks back in the studio are trying not to laugh. I'm not alone.
Having taken a number of spills in my day, including one time when I ran full-speed into a custodial supply locker the size of a large metal dumpster, the pain isn't what gets you. It's knowing everyone else saw it and how goofy you looked moving in a way that people usually don't move.
Or if afterward, you have to give a speech in front of the whole class while holding an icepack on the giant goose egg on your noggin.