“Your Tiger style is no match for my Crane style!” Oh those golden Sunday afternoons of Kung-Fu theater. There were flying, punching, sword swinging masters of the martial arts that had me “Hi-Yaaaaa-ing” through the neighborhood. I ate that stuff up and even took some lessons until this guy wanted me to do push-ups on my knuckles.
Well those movies had some real kernels of truth in them. Shoalin monks continue training in the martial arts today and they can do some pretty impressive things. Check out this video of a Shoalin monk throwing a sewing needle through a pane of glass, shot on video at 1000 frames per second.
Pretty cool. You can see a novice try the same trick with much different outcome. There’s a show that just started airing in the States called “An Idiot Abroad.” Produced by comedian Ricky Gervais, he plays a practical joke: sending his reluctant doofus pal on a worldwide trek in “An Idiot Abroad,” a comedic travel documentary on the Science Channel. You can check it out after the jump along with another video of Shoalin Frog style. It’s not just a witty title.
Prodded by Gervais and Stephen Merchant, co-creators of “The Office” and “Extras,” Karl Pilkington tours the seven wonders of the world in the eight-episode series. He says Pilkington was the perfect target because he “has no pretensions; he takes everything at face value and has no filter. He’s not a comedian; he’s not trying to be funny. But it’s one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.” Karl starts with the Great Wall of China, where in a nearby market he witnesses in horror a Chinese woman eating skewered scorpions.
“What would you have to eat in front of a Chinese person for them to say, ‘Oh, that is gross’? You’d have to eat a bare foot,” Gervais says in a joint interview.
So they sent Pilkington — their partner for podcasts that later were turned into HBO’s animated Ricky Gervais Show: on missions, such as seeing a Chinese fortuneteller, who warns him he might die of heart disease. “The whole thing’s a bit like a social experiment,” Gervais explains. “He’s definitely our best mate, but he’s also part pet and part lab rat. We feel like Eliza Doolittle, or Anthony Hopkins taking the Elephant Man around. “Some people feel out of place in libraries or in church, but Karl feels out of place in the rest of the world,” he says. “If he’s not in his house having his favorite cake and tea, then he’s on edge.
Merchant, who devised many of the tasks, says his job was “trying to calm him down.” But “if he happens to get kidnapped for our amusement, that’s just an added perk.” (He did; it was arranged.)
What was Pilkington’s favorite part? “When it was all over,” he says. “Everything that happened was a surprise, and I don’t like surprises.” Worst? “India; it messes with your head,” such as when he saw someone “with legs missing, dragging themselves across the road,” which he describes as “extremely emotional.” He would do another trip, he says, but only if told in advance what to expect, which would seem to spoil the fun of it. And for the record: “I’m not a fan of that title.”