A Surprising Laugh From IndyCar

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Given the gravity of the events in Paris over the weekend, I thought it would be nice to have a more lighthearted post today. That’s not to make light of the situation at all. Along with the horror we saw throughout the weekend, there is also the numbing fact that these attacks will continue to happen across the globe as well as here in America. There has been much debate on what America’s next step should be. But this is not a political site, but an IndyCar site. With that in mind, I’ll offer a quick relief from the serious discussions of the weekend.

Have you seen the video series entitled Exclusive Look Behind the Scenes of IndyCar With Damien Power, that have been sporadically released since the offseason? If not, you should.

Over the years, I have found that many people don’t appreciate my sense of humor. I tend to be very sarcastic and dry – so much so that many people don’t realize (or appreciate) that I’m using sarcasm. I really appreciate tongue-in-cheek humor. Some do, whiles others don’t. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a very tongue-planted-firmly-in-cheek post about Josef Newgarden’s #Shirts4Sage campaign which was obviously a joke. Although I never let on that I was kidding, I considered it obvious. Most got the joke, while a few surprisingly did not.

Perhaps that’s why I’ve grown into the grumpy old man I am, when it comes to today’s comedies. While I’m certainly no prude, it takes little talent to write raunchy language into a script. T&A jokes can only carry a movie or sitcom so far. Eventually there has to be a clever plot or storyline worked into a script. Don’t get me wrong – raunchy or tasteless humor has its place. If you’ve ever seen an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm, you probably know what I’m talking about. I consider Larry David to be the most ingenious comedic mind of our generation. Seth Rogen? Not so much.

If you’re not familiar with Damien Power, he is a comedian from Australia. He also happens to be the younger brother of IndyCar driver Will Power. During the championship weekend at Sonoma, Damien Power interviewed many IndyCar drivers and owners in what looks like an unused spare room. To call this a set is like calling an IMS restroom a luxurious powder room. Damien sits in a folding chair aside a trash can, while the guests sit inside of two Firestone racing tires. The walls are completely blank while a lone Firestone tire looks curiously out of place. It makes the One Take Only set seem rather ornate. I’m not sure how the whole thing was arranged, but you get the impression that older brother Will knew nothing about it.

Each episode lasts only five to six minutes. To date, IndyCar has released episodes featuring James Hinchcliffe, Helio Castroneves, Conor Daly, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Josef Newgarden, his brother Will, Sarah Fisher and Ryan Briscoe. Next week, the final episode featuring Brian Barnhart will be released.

Some will find these episodes to be hilarious, while others will simply scratch their heads and find them curiously off-the-wall and not get what they’re all about. The thing is…there’s nothing to get. It’s very deadpan humor. They are so random and quirky, that they defy logic. And that’s the beauty of it. It’s sort of like Seinfeld being a show about nothing.

Seinfeld is my favorite TV show of all time. I know that Seinfeld is not everyone’s cup of tea. I don’t understand why – but I know it’s not. Some people love The Big Bang Theory. Personally, I find a forty-pound bag of fertilizer more entertaining than that show – but we all have different tastes. If you like Seinfeld, you’ll probably appreciate these Damien Power videos. If not, you’ll probably not get these short IndyCar videos either.

I’ve gone on YouTube and found some of his stand-up routines in Australia. They are also funny, but a little more conventional than the quirky IndyCar interviews. If you go to YouTube and watch all of them, you’ll see that some of the drivers get it and some don’t. Those that seemed to appreciate the quirkiness of the situation were James Hinchcliffe, Josef Newgarden, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Sarah Fisher. Helio Castroneves seemed very unsure about everything, while Will Power was either genuinely irked by the whole thing or he’s a very good actor. I’ll be curious to see how Brian Barnhart deals with the awkwardness. I’m especially anxious to see if his brother’s double-bird at New Hampshire will be brought up. My only real complaint is that there is apparently no episode where Damien Power interviews AJ Foyt.

These were all apparently shot on the same day, because Damien Power is wearing the same ugly shirt throughout the series. His questions range from “Why are you not as good as a driver or person as my brother Will?” to “If you could keep your head with another animal’s body, what would it be?” The answers are as interesting as the looks on the driver’s faces. He also asks to touch Helio’s hair, which elicits a very awkward reaction from Helio.

My personal favorite is the one featuring James Hinchcliffe, so I’ve included it here. If you like it, you’ll like them all – even though some are obviously way better than others.

So, my suggestion is to start off with the Hinch video, since it’s Episode One, and go from there. Intersperse them throughout your day to pick up your spirits. After this past weekend, we can all use a good laugh.

George Phillips

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6 Responses to “A Surprising Laugh From IndyCar”

  1. Will’s sense of humor is a lot like his brothers and he most certainly was playing along with his brother there. If you recall the offseason series with him, Hinch, Newgarden and Kimball a few years ago, he showed his humor there to be very dry.

  2. billytheskink Says:

    This series had me at “Buddy Laz-ier”.

    The offseason series that SteveK mentions above (called “The Offseason” as I recall) was great too. “Kangaroos are like unicorns.”

    Efforts to keep us fans engaged in the offseason are most appreciated.

  3. Seconded about “Buddy Laz-ier”.

    Damien: “So, there’s this Buddy Laz-ier guy…”

    Hinch: “Um……..yep. Yep.”

    The latest one with Ryan Briscoe probably ranks right behind the Hinch one, for me. There’s a crapton of fantastic deadpan going on there, from both guys.

  4. I love it! Reminds of Between 2 Ferns with Zach Galifianakis.

  5. Lynn Weinberg Says:

    Personally, I think most of the videos were hilarious. My favorite was the one with Conor Daly. It was full of awkwardness and made me laugh.

    As funny as I think they were, I must say, I don’t think they are good for the IndyCar brand. This series struggles with so much with recognition, and the best stuff they are releasing while we were waiting for that 2016 schedule announcement was videos shot in the corner of a storeroom? Maybe that’s me being “a grumpy old woman,” but I think these videos aren’t the best PR.

    That being said, I’ve watched them all at least 3 times each.

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