Frequently in this column, I have discussed which racer would get whatever equivalent of a Fishy I’d have to give if one existed. (The “Liesey” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.) I have never been more tempted to rip off Stephen and institute my own award than I have this weekend, and the recipient of the award wouldn’t be a team, or an individual racer — it’d be Casting.
Every single team in this cast had a moment this episode that made me laugh, whether intentional or unintentional. Every. Single. One. We’ve got 16 people left in the competition and I could tell you who they all are and even give you a rundown of some of their better moments. I can’t even think of the last time that’s been true of a cast this early in the game. It wasn’t even true last season, when we’d actually seen all the teams before.
Of course, that’s down to editing as much as casting, but as Season 22 standout and friend of RHAP Max Bichler once told me, “if you don’t say it, they can’t air it.” He was talking about teams who complain about negative edits, but I find it’s just as true when it comes to comedic moments and positive portrayals.
There’s always that one team you keep forgetting about when you make your list of the teams, the one that makes you think, “I thought there were eight teams left, but I can only think of seven! Who am I missing?” This season, there is no “that team.” Nobody’s getting lost in the shuffle. Everyone’s got a sense of humor. And everyone’s sense of humor is a little bit different. This, my friends, is why I’m having more fun covering Season 25 than I think maybe I’ve had covering any other season.
With that in mind, allow me to take a page from Survivor blogger Scott Gallagher as I break down each team’s funny moments and find the best pop-culture parallel to the humor they embody.
Kym and Alli – The Whimsy
Kym and Alli are definitely a team who won’t sacrifice their good time for competition — and what’s more, they could not care less if their definition of “good time” doesn’t match everyone else’s. If they crack each other up, that’s good enough for them. They got the first truly hilarious moment of the episode when they refused to wait out an hours-long layover in the train station, instead choosing to skip through downtown Oxford in search of a pub, making up songs and befriending wildlife along the way.
Like I said, everyone on this race is having fun. Kym and Alli may well be having the MOST fun.
Comedic Forebears: Adam Sandler, with a dash of Adventure Time
Adam and Bethany – The Oddly Dark
You wouldn’t expect this from a team of sun-kissed, Jesus-loving Hawaiian surfers, particularly one whose hook is overcoming adversity, but even Adam and Bethany are bringing the funny, particularly Adam. At the creepy castle Route Marker this week, he seemed way too delighted about the comically fake skeletal remains strewn about the place, in a way that was probably only 90% ironic.
CBS gave us a good ten minutes’ worth of deleted mat scenes this week, probably owing to the fact that Phil could NOT keep it together in front of the guy in the puffin suit. In Adam and Bethany’s bonus clip, Bethany’s reaction to the squawking puffin — “are you sick?” — is also strangely endearing.
Comedic Forebears: MTV2’s short-lived kiddie-TV parody Wonder ShowzenSo far, pretty fun to watch.[/caption]
Shelley and Nici – The Slapstick
What can you say about a team whose defining moment so far has been peeing over the side of a boat? Shelley and Nici continued to bring the broad, physical comedy this week as they got chased by a pony and almost left the Detour without their clue. “This is going to be easy AND fun,” Shelley observes, a bare three seconds before she gets trampled by her flock of sheep.
I suspect things are going to be a lot less humorous for Team #MomDaughter next week, but these past three episodes would have been much less funny without them.
Comedic Forebears: Laurel and Hardy
Amy and Maya – The Screwball
Amy and Maya are competent in challenges, quick on their feet, and ready to think outside the box, but they’re not immune to screwing up. Fortunately, their blunders are less catastrophic and more zany/endearing, mostly thanks to their scrappy, can-do attitudes. Last week, they managed to steer their punt into a riverbank, maintaining optimistic “aw-shucks” grins the entire time. This week, they got lost on the way to the mat and took us on an impromptu tour of the Shetlands’ sweeping landscapes and austerely elegant houses of worship. “That’s not the pit stop!” Amy chirps as they do a cartoon-character sneak-style walk out of the church…and on, we can assume, to further wacky adventures.
Comedic Forebears: Laverne and Shirley
Tim and Te Jay – The Book Smart (but not Street Smart)
Tim and Te Jay are plenty savvy in certain ways (they made quick work of the compass task, for instance), but they don’t seem to know what a quarry is, they can’t find the bent nail in their nail bag (not realizing they can bend one themselves), and their solution to a simple sheep-herding conundrum is to redesign the corral using pieces of their own clothing. I don’t know how well this overthinking is going to serve them long-term, but it sure does make them fun to watch.
Comedic Forebears: Wile E. Coyote, with a dash of JD and Turk
Brooke and Robbie – The Self-Deprecators
This is Robbie, more than Brooke, but whenever they’re hit with adversity, Robbie’s got a great quip. “I barely know how to use a lighter, let alone make a torch,” is his observation following their third torch rejection at the Detour.
Comedy may well be something Robbie developed as a defense mechanism when Brooke goes into Brooke Mode. But I suspect that Brooke can laugh at herself as well. It’s just not quite as readily apparent. “This is gorgeous,” she observed of their Viking torch after spending basically forever on cementing it and anticipating yet another rejection.
Comedic Forebear: Zach Galifianakis
Keith and Whitney – The Sarcasm
Yes, we’ve gotten a LOT of mileage out of Whitney’s iconic rant at Cochran during Survivor: South Pacific. But I am quickly discovering there’s way more to these two than the three minutes of air time they got back in Samoa, and it’s sometimes a little hard to spot.
One of the great side effects of Whitney’s proper-Southern-lady facade is that she occasionally sneaks in some moments of snark that sound exactly as sweet as everything else she says, but actually mean the opposite. So when Whitney has a confessional in which she describes a conversation as “quick words,” that’s just her diplomatic, stealth-sarcastic way of saying “knock-down gripefest.”
And though they can’t seem to stop sniping at each other, Team Weith is having just as much fun as everyone else. In Keith and Whitney’s bonus mat clip, Keith, Whitney, and Phil are so cracked up by the puffin mascot’s antics that none of them can continue speaking. Phil wipes away tears and Whitney can’t cover up the snort in her laughter.
Comedic Forebear: Julia Sugarbaker
Jim and Misti – The Stealth Quipsters
I had originally worried that this team was going to be resolutely unwilling to have fun along the way, sort of like fellow dentist couple Lake and Michelle of Season 9, who were so tightly wound they made the season less fun to watch, or even Season 20’s Dave and Rachel, who yelled at each other almost as often as they voiced a desire to win.
Don’t get me wrong, Jim’s pumped-up physique and orange-and-white color scheme still occasionally borders on terrifying, especially juxtaposed with Misti’s nonstop, blinding pageant smile. Their “second place is the first loser” attitude shouldn’t logically leave a lot of room for humor. But make no mistake — the good Doctors Raman are having as much of a blast on this trip as anyone else in the Race. They’re just not quite as flashy about it. If you’re not paying attention, you might miss that quick moment where Jim asks his Shetland pony to read the clue or pretends to translate the puffin-speak.
Comedic Forebears: Modern Family
Michael and Scott – The Dry Wits
As if to drive my point home that the firefighters are paragons of dry wit, Scott worked an actual Monty Python reference into a complaint about his sprained ankle. And while Tim and Te Jay seem to be the most ready to jump wholeheartedly into suspension of disbelief, it was the firefighters who did the most bantering with the Vikings at the torch task, including an impromptu fire-fighting lesson for the task judges: “Water.”
After their uncomfortable first episode, I’m surprised to say it, but I’m going to miss these guys and their matter-of-fact delivery.
Comedic Forebear: Norm MacDonald
I’ll close things out this week with a quickie list to honor the real stars of this week’s episode: its four-legged task helpers. Both ponies and sheep contributed great opportunities for quality television, and they should be proud to join their fellow creatures in the Amazing Race Animal Hall of Fame. Here, then, are my top five animal tasks from Amazing Races gone by:
5. Land-Mine-Sniffing Rats, Mozambique, Season 11
4. Camel Beauty Contest, Abu Dhabi, Season 23
3. Broken Oxen, the Philippines, Season 5
2. Duck Herding, Vietnam, Season 15
1. Bunny Steeplechase, Denmark, Season 19
Feel free to share yours in the comments!