It never ceases to amaze me how Jay Leno manages to get incredibly stupid people to show up and make fools out of themselves on television. I’ve written before about various segments he’s done with stupid people and I just sat and watched him take one of his regular segments—called Jay Walking—to a new level.
For those few of you who have never seen a Jay Walking segment, it’s basically a pre-filmed bit where he goes out on the street and stops random people to ask them general questions about science, politics, history or what have you. Sometimes he’ll show people a picture of a famous dignitary such as Tony Blair and ask folks if they know who it is, which of course they don’t, then he’ll turn around and show them a picture of Paris Hilton whom they have no problems identifying. Very few of the questions are all that tough and are what I would qualify as general knowledge if sometimes a bit trivial. The resulting segment is pretty funny if you can overlook the fact that these idiots can vote and drive a vehicle.
I’ve always taken comfort in the fact that the segment is pretaped under the assumption that it’s edited heavily to remove anyone who managed to demonstrate they have a clue and make some folks look even dumber than they really are. Surely, I think to myself in a classic symptom of denial, these people aren’t that incredibly stupid. They’re only using the best bits of cluelessness to make it funny.
So tonight I’m watching Leno and he’s taken Jay Walking to a new level with “Battle of the Jay Walking All Stars.” In this bit he’s set up a section of the stage to resemble a game show with him standing at a podium and three people standing opposite behind buzzer stations. He then asks questions and the contestants buzz in with what they think the answer is just like on a real game show. Except these people apparently have lived most of their lives under a rock.
These people have already been on the show in past Jay Walking segments so you’d think they’d be aware that Jay’s putting their ignorance on display for the entire nation to laugh at, but either they’re not aware or they don’t care. Neither of which is all that comforting to consider. The segment still appears to be edited, but not as much, and I suppose the laughter could be canned. At least I hope so. Or better yet, actors. Let them be actors that were hired to pretend to be idiots for a comedy bit. That would be good. I could feel all right about laughing at them instead of wanting to throw a brick at my TV in frustration. Deep down, though, I fear that they are real and it makes me shudder.