America’s Jousting Renaissance! (Must Be Stopped!)
Last Sunday, a much-discussed (among alt-sports nerds such as myself, at least) The New York Times Magazine feature posed a pressing question: “Is Jousting the Next Extreme Sport?” Along with memorably cuckoo quotes from jousting fans and, uh, “professional jousters,” and one of the greatest correction notes in journalism history (scroll down), Dashka Slater’s article provides entree into the weird world of modern jousting.
The neo-Medieval nature of the jousting Slater writes about creates some strange contrasts. As two men in armor earnestly attempt to do one another harm in the name of competitive excellence, campy Renaissance Faire antics surround them on all sides. Behold:
“The knights have received their lances!” It’s certainly not going to replace “play ball!” any time soon. However, jousting’s underlying formula—two competitors; weapons; vehicles; mayhem—obviously retains its trans-epochal appeal. Just yesterday, I happened to learn about an annual bike-jousting competition with pies instead of lances that is held by a Seattle tavern, which looks like fun, or something close to it:
And that discovery led me to this amazing footage of Toyota RAV4 jousting, which sadly appears to be an advertisement rather than a preview of a Mad Max-meets-Camelot future:
For that, I guess you have to watch Segway jousting, which at least discovers a use for those things:
And for a less-self-conscious, more middle-American take on the concept, there’s lawnmower jousting:
The moral of the story—if, indeed, there is one—is that as long as human beings use fast, large conveyances to get around, they will devise ways to knock one another from them. While I have nothing against jousting’s modern-day knights, I must admit that the phenomenon makes me think of Red Fang’s fantastic (in more ways than one) “Prehistoric Dog” video.