Guest Post: Full Metal Jousting – Jake The Jester Plants Jack The Jouster Firmly On His Arse
My partner has had to take the week off work sick and is trapped inside and once he started feeling a tad stronger, that is getting under my feet, I put him to work and made him watch some A& E shows for me, and this is his recap/review of Full Metal Jousting:
Following Reality Raver’s urging – or should I say nagging – that Full Metal Jousting might be a reality show right up my alley, I took advantage of the mid-week lull in footy action to pop in the preview tape A&E had sent her.
A&E is one of those pay TV stations I sometimes turn to if in need of a reliable dose of American quirkiness. At their best these shows offer the viewer an eyebrow raising insight into lifestyles of the mad and not so famous on the oddest fringes of American society and commerce. Often doing dangerous stuff us city dwellers will never get around to. Killing ‘gators. Chopping trees. And all nary a celebrity in sight, D-lister or otherwise. Watching the real people on these shows is a relief from the fading stars or outright industry casualties who hog the reality TV limelight. (One of the reasons I’m not as big a fan of the genre as RR.)
Most A&E shows also have great titles (can’t wait to review Lady Hoggers and Swamp People) but Full Metal Jousting steers clear of such naming gimickry; marking it out as a ‘SERIOUS MAN SHOW’.
So let’s get serious and roll with tonight’s viewing, episode 2.
“Full metal jousting is a dangerous, extreme sport. To protect the horses and competitors trained professionals followed strict safety guidelines”, intones the very serious introduction. All well and good. “Do not try this at home”, continues the warning. I’ll tip my hat to that. They obviously haven’t seen my backyard, nor the ‘no jousting’ signs Marrickville Council has erected at all the parks round here. Just where did I leave my trusty steed, in case I decide to deliberately ignore your silly warning?
I have to say that the first ten minutes or so left me a bit cold. There’s replays of some of last week’s jousting action, a bunch of twenty something extreme sports guys who obviously can ride a horse and a $100,000 prize.
However, as an avid Game of Thrones fan, I was thrilled to bits with the show’s anchor, Shane Adams, who looks like a dead ringer for Lord Eddard Stark as portrayed by Sean Bean. Apparently Shane is a jousting world champ and he reckons the sport is “like surfing in armour except you have another surfer coming at you to knock you off your board”. Well at least he looks medieval and seemed a natural narrator of the action.
Things got interesting in the practice sessions. There are two teams of eight – red armour versus black. Both teams have coaches. One an Aussie, by his accent. Each team puts up a contestant for a jousting bout. As Black team had won the previous bout they got to choose their jouster as well as the other team’s.
Red team’s practice revealed some contestants with ability to hit target with their lance. This included the smallest contestant who was described as a “small stick of dynamite”. The Red team’s resident clown, Jake, however was proving comically inept and was described by Shane as having “no technique”. At this point Shane told us that the lance weighs 10lbs (4.5kg) but stretches 9 feet from the rider.
Over at Black team practice everyone was strong and that thingie they have to hit and get to spin around was spinning so much it could’ve been given a government grant as an alternative energy source. Cockiness abounded. Highlighted as the best of a good bunch were theatrical jouster, Jack, and world champion steer wrestler, Rope. Yep, the name’s Rope.
Shane speculated that the Black’s must have had a spy in the Red camp as they chose Jake Nodar, a horse trainer, who so far has not managed one hit on target. They also put forward their best man in practice, Jack Mathis, who has a 13-year pedigree in theatrical jousting (which is apparently the WWF of jousting).
Horses are chosen for the contestants and they get some extra practice with their new mounts. In a sign to perhaps expect the unexpected, Jack copped a full-blooded blow to the head from one of his team mates. He looked somewhat worse for wear as he spat out part of one of his molars and listened the lecture about wearing mouth guards. On the Red side Jake continued his previous form earlier, missing targets, until his last few practice runs, when he finally got it and started scoring some hits.
Bout day arrives but there are no minstrels or buxom wenches. No. None of that nonsense, just a couple of serious guys ready to kick arse. The scoring rules are explained. Ten points for an unhorsing. Five points for a broken lance. But for each of these the jouster’s lance has to hit the target area armour attached to the contestant’s left chest/shoulder. And one point for a simple hit on target. They have to run 8 passes at each other and at some point (I forget when) they are given thicker, heavier lances.
Like other sports I expected the first pass to be a sizing each other up exercise. Well not for the previously inept Jake. They charge and Red Jake puts Black Jack right on his arse. A sporting turnaround of entertaining proportions. My interest immediately peaks up. Black Jack gets the all clear from the doctor, whose precise clinical method – “can you tell me your name?” – wouldn’t have him out of place at the local bulk billing practice.
Both miss on passes 2 and 3. On pass 4 Black Jack manages to hit Red Jake and then fall off his own horse in the process.
In the end Red Jake, Jake the Jester wins easily.
It was just like those fairytales I used to love as child where the laziest or dimmest kid in the village slays the dragon or bests the black knight, to transform from no-hoper to hero. (Those stories always sang of hope to me).
Overall an enjoyable show that I will now back up for more of. If only to find out exactly how long a long a lance is. During the episode I heard 9, 11 and 14 foot. I’ll mirror my better half, Reality Raver here, to speculate that maybe some of these contestants can’t help exaggerating the size of their weapons.