Thursday, March 12, 2009
Nerd Men of the Month: 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.