While the Guardian has successfully parlayed their recruitment of such UK comedy TV fixtures as Russell Brand and David Mitchell into some of the funniest sportswriting east of Wizznutzz, broadsheet competitor The Independent hasn’t fared nearly as well, inviting modern day Alan Funt Dom Joly an opportunity to wax poetic about “The Weird World Of Sport”.
Trying to drum up some business in Los Angeles, actor/comedian/conceptualist Joly is unimpressed by the Nets and Heat visiting London yesterday, declaring basketball to be “the dullest game on earth” while recalling his disappointing sole visit to the Staples Center (“how many times had I seen footage of Jack Nicholson and his various lady ‘companions’ jostling for court-side position with Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon? Getting front row seats at a Lakers game is the ultimate LA affirmation of status and power.”)
Strangely, I did not have front row seats “ I was sharing an executive box with what looked like an office outing for a bunch of movie-industry lawyers. None of them were watching the game. Some were huddled together in corners while others chatted non-stop on several mobiles “ making deals and shafting dreams. I had a pair of binoculars and skimmed the crowd for proper celebrities but couldn’t see anyone. Suddenly, the over-excited PA announcer introduced a well-known face “ the cameras zoomed in on a muscled, over-tattooed gentleman who turned out to be “the lead singer of the band Crazy Town…” The crowd went mental as he gave everyone the universally recognised rock greeting of the devil’s horns with his tattooed fingers. I was singularly unimpressed. Who the hell was this guy?
Next up the PA announcer introduced a young actor from a TV series that I’d never heard of. The clean-cut kid stood up and forced his gorgeous companion to do the same. This was a big mistake as she was at least two feet taller than him and, by all rights, should have been on the court playing. The kid saw himself on the big screen and realised how dumb he looked. As though pulled by invisible strings, Big Bird suddenly sat down as he continued to wave, maybe a touch too long…. That was that. Where the hell was Larry David, Cameron Diaz, Jerry Seinfeld? I’d been short-changed. This was clearly a low-grade match that wasn’t worth the A list turning out for.
Disappointed, I forgot about the crowd and tried to concentrate on the game. It was mind-numbingly dull. On an unbelievably squeaky wooden floor, two sets of unfeasibly tall men ran from one end of the court to the other like baggy metronomes, dropping the ball into opposing hoops. Like all truly dull games, it appeared not to have any midfield action whatsoever. Handball suffers from the same problem. The score rocketed “ 32-28, 74-62 “but I’d lost interest. The big TV screen was randomly selecting a couple in the crowd. They would be framed in a heart and if they kissed while on the big screen they won an all-expenses meal for two at Taco Bell. I prayed that I would be selected. I’d kiss one of the lawyers and we could get out of here and get some tacos “ who knows, we could maybe even do a deal?