Thursday, March 12, 2009

Nerd Men of the Month: Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May

(L to r) Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May

Usually, I try to confine my nerd love to one man at a time because I'm old-fashioned that way, but the men of "Top Gear" force me to throw that caution to the wind and name all three of the hosts of the BBC's insanely popular TV auto magazine as March's Nerd Men of the Month. Save for Richard Hammond who looks like an adorable pocket-sized David Tennant, the "Top Gear" men are perhaps not traditionally handsome but all you have to do is spend half a second listening to them insult one another, mock Alfa-Romeos, call BMW drivers "cocks" and just generally make mischief and you'll be entranced.

These guys can make anything interesting -- I care nothing about cars but "Top Gear" is the highlight of my TV viewing week. Why? Because it's literate, compelling, funny and utterly, utterly ridiculous. Watching these guys launch a rocket-propelled Mini-Cooper off a ski jump, turn a Toyota pick-up truck into a vessel sea-worthy enough to cross the English Channel...barely and race tractor trailers through brick walls is wildly entertaining. I would listen to these three do a show on atrophy and molting and sit there with a huge grin on my face for the whole thing.

And each presenter is entertaining and endearing in his own right. As one Park Bench reader said last month, James May is like that delightfully weird college professor you have that secret crush on. He's thoughtful, methodic, semi-plodding and the perfect foil for Jeremy Clarkson, the trouble-making, rabble-rousing, "I can't believe he said that" leader of the pack. A journalist, Clarkson hosted the first iteration of "Top Gear" in the 1990s and possesses an array of put-downs and so-subtle yet so-biting insults that must make Simon Cowell weep in envy each and every night. And Richard Hammond, who is mercilessly tormented week in and week out for his slightly small stature, is the mischievous every-man counterpoint to his cohorts. All three men are incredibly fun to watch, no matter if they're bleeding brake lines or flipping a bendy bus. They almost make me want to learn how to drive a manual...and that's not a euphemism. Okay, maybe a little bit of a euphemism.

I feel guilty for not including The Stig, the anonymous, disguised driver who tests all the fastest "Top Gear" cars, in the Nerd Man honors but I felt I needed to disqualify him because he's anonymous and disguised. The Stig could be Ryan Seacrest for all we know -- and The Park Bench couldn't live with itself if Seacrest accidentally became a Nerd Man.

So all hail the men of "Top Gear." Long may they wave...and drive really fast, say ridiculous things, insult one another, get celebrities to race crappy cars and just be generally awesome.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Excellent choice! I think the funniest episode was when they set the camper on fire. Thanks to them, I know have car envy and want to drive the Bugatti Veyron, which is basically the fastest road car ever. *sigh*

Black Eyed Gurl said...

Wow I am so sublimely disappointed that you didn't go with David Eick and Ron Moore.
Ima go cry now...

Liz said...

Don't cry, Black Eyed Gurl! They're on the list, I swear! And will be duly recognized for their contributions to nerddom -- including (and especially) Eick's video blogs.

lucadrina said...

So deserving of the coveted Nerd-Man title! Who can forget that fabulous American roadtrip where they tried to get each other killed (or the rocket car that nearly succeeded?) Great choice!

The Husband said...

Finally!

beentsy said...

A trifecta! How wonderful. ;)

agent57 said...

I don't even have a driver's license, but I've loved these dudes ever since I first tuned in and saw them set up a football match between a team of Toyota Aygos and a team of VW Foxes.

Ally said...

Nice choice. I absolutely love Richard Hammond!!!

Camera Obscura said...

I could not have put it better! You have completely and succinctly expressed my love for all three. I can't bring myself to watch any of their individual shows (not even James' "Drinking Across Britain") because I think of them as a set.

And yes, it's best not to include the Stig. The character is actually played by two or three drivers, one of whom recently let his identity slip and was under threat of being sacked for it.

Camera Obscura said...

P.S. The sidebar list needs updating, luv.

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