by Hans Olson
On last night’s episode of “Shobox: The New Generation,” former Cuban amateur great Guillermo Rigondeaux defeated Rico Ramos for the WBA super bantamweight championship with a 6th round knockout.
You would think that Rigondeaux’s knifing left to the body that put out the previously undefeated Ramos would be the clip on Youtube going viral today.
You’d be wrong.
That honor goes to Chuck Giampa, a former ringside judge who was making his Showtime debut. Giampa was brought on board to do essentially what Harold Lederman does for HBO—give professional insight to Showtime’s viewers on the particulars of rules, judging, officiating, etc.
Chuck’s first appearance on-air didn’t exactly go great:
“Thank you Al. Tonight I will be taking you inside the mind of a judge.”
“Tonight I will be taking you inside the mind of a judge…”
The best part of a live on-air slip-up is our own personal reaction to it. Our first instincts are usually to laugh—which I did. Hey, it was funny. We see something that shouldn’t happen…happen. Even on a premium cable network like Showtime, a network whose programming spans from serial killing dramas to soft-core porn…we’re somehow shocked and/or amused by a natural human error on a sporting telecast.
Watching “Showbox” last night, the Giampa moment was an immediate DVR rewind. My roommate broke out his iphone to record the clip and send it to friends. It was hilarious. Not hilarious in it’s content—certainly, hearing the word “shit” wasn’t what was great about it…It’s the idea of watching someone fall on their face live on television.
The thing is though, I liked that Chuck, moments after realizing his second try was really timed to be the end of his first cue—he retreated with an attitude that was essentially “fuck it.”
He knew the segment was sinking (or had already sunk), and he went down with his ship, annoyingly acknowledging this with “…yeah. Shit.”
Anyone who has ever spoken in public, done an interview, been on air, or just simply embarrassed themselves in some way shape or form can identify with what Chuck went through. The utter relief we have in knowing that what they’re going through isn’t us—and because we’ve all been there and know the feeling—our enjoyment of it is almost intoxicating.
I’m not sure what that says about us, or myself personally that I enjoyed it—because I certainly don’t enjoy seeing anybody fail. Most people I know don’t either. Still, everyone loves seeing stuff like this. It’s probably the same reason why most of us like watching blooper clips, fail videos, shots to the groin…you know, that kind of stuff. (I look forward to Chuck having a “Web Redemption” segment on Tosh.0 in the future!)
Thinking about it, I’ve realized that most of these situations can be linked to all of us having a certain degree of grief and empathy underlining our sense of humor and amusement. That’s our culture.
In 1969, a book was released written by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross wherein she identifies five stages of grief that which a patient goes through when realizing their impending death: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance.
This was humorously referenced years ago on an episode of The Simpsons:
Now obviously real death and “dying on air” are different things.
What I mean is, comics or stage performers will often reference a bad performance by saying something like “I died out there tonight.”
So, in some ways…Chuck “died on air,” and in doing so…we saw the Kubler-Ross stages unveil themselves in seconds. We see Chuck’s initial reaction after his opening line; questioning if he had, or hadn’t met his cue. That his second attempt was a sped-up version of his opening line covered both the stages of anger (at the realization of error) and bargaining (if you say it quicker they’ll forget!).
Then, when Chuck understands it’s over, the sigh of disappointment accurately covers the depression…punctuated by his dismissive “…yeah.”
Chuck Giampa was terrific throughout the rest of the evening. I personally look forward to hearing his boxing acumen going forward during Showtime telecasts. I’ll always remember this moment though, but not for reasons mean spirited or those rooted in the enjoyment of the failure of others.
Not at all.
It will be the pure reminder of each of our imperfections—or the understanding and enjoyment of those imperfections in others.
Understanding failure, death, and humor as irony are all rather amusing to me.
And they’re all rather useful.
Boxing Insider’s Hans Olson can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @hansolson