As Ron White likes to say, you can’t fix stupid. Jay Leno has proven that for almost twenty years with the ‘Jaywalking’ segment of the Tonight Show. In case you’re not familiar with the Tonight Show, or Jaywalking, or stupid people, I’ll explain.
Leno goes out on the streets of Los Angeles, armed with nothing but a cameraman and a list of incredibly easy questions, and causes people to present themselves as absolutely the most ignorant life forms in the universe. He asks them questions like, “Who was the first president?” He gets answers like, “Benjamin Franklin,” or “Ronald Reagan,” or “President of what?”
The people Leno finds seem far too dumb for the segments not to have been staged. Leno claims they are all random people who are actually trying to answer the questions correctly. If you’ve ever seen one of these Jaywalking bits, you probably find that hard to believe.
So do I. So I decided to find out for myself if there were really people in the world, specifically in Texas, who were as intellectually challenged as those on Jaywalking. I went to San Antonio, to a mall, where people seem to waste a lot of time, and looked for folks who didn’t appear to be in a big hurry, and asked them basic outdoor questions. I figured, at a mall, with lots of witnesses around, I might not get killed too often.
Since this was Texas, I expected most people to know something about hunting and fishing. So I started with deer. I asked several random people what a baby deer is called. Simple, right? Wrong.
The answers I got ranged from ‘kid’ to ‘papoose.’ One lady said a baby deer was called a calf. One guy said ‘herd.’ I’m not sure he was from Texas, though, since he was wearing a shirt that said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, go faster.”
Next I asked people what is going on when you see bucks chasing does. Mostly what I got was, “What?” No one seemed to have heard of the rut. Almost every person I explained it to seemed fascinated, but skeptical. The concept of deer mating only for a month or two of the year sounded unreasonable to them, obviously. They seemed to think I had my facts wrong.
So I went to fishing. I asked, “What do they fish for at the Bassmaster’s Classic?” Only one person I talked to had heard of the event, and he didn’t know what they fished for. One lady said, “Tuna.” One guy told me, “Oh, I never get in a boat.” When I told him it was a contest for professional anglers, he looked at me strangely and said, “Yeah, right,” and walked away.
I decided the questions were too hard, and I needed to tone things down a little. I asked some people, “If you’re an angler, what do you do?” One lady said you’re a welder. I guess she’d heard of angle iron. One girl said you’re a carpenter. One just started laughing and walked off. One guy said, “A hang glider?” I said, “No, an angler.” He shook his head and said, “Oh, man, are you a cop?”
Fishing was evidently not commonly understood in San Antonio, so I moved on to bowhunting. I asked, “If you practice archery, what do you do?” Two people said, “You shoot a bow and arrow.” They looked at me like I was an idiot. One guy said an archer runs a fish farm. I guess he got it mixed up with ‘hatchery.’ One lady said you were a Satanist. I think she thought I said ‘witchery.’ Or something. She also told me it was illegal, and I should be ashamed of myself. Another lady said someone who practices archery is an engineer. I believe she figured it must have something to do with arches.
I decided to switch to camping. Just about everyone knows something about camping. I asked people, “What do you do call it when you put up a tent?” One lady said, “Throw . . . no, toss . . . right?” At least she had the general verb category. Most everyone else had no idea.
I moved on to guns. I asked what ‘semiautomatic’ means. Everyone thought it was the same as automatic. I figured I was dreaming if I expected anyone to know anything about bolt actions or lever actions. Gave up on that.
Then I decided to ask people what the NRA is. Phttt. One woman said, “Oh, they’re those bad lobbyists.” Another said, “I don’t like them. They want to give guns to kids.” Where she got that I have no idea. Shows what the liberal media has been up to, I guess. One woman said, “The NRA? My kids’ school has one of those. I had to make a lot of punch one time.” I think she thought I was asking about the PTA.
So, for your information, Jaywalking is probably real and unrehearsed. Our country has no idea where it’s going. Which is probably why it’s going faster . . .
Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist who doesn’t believe anglers can actually communicate with the spirit world. Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or firstname.lastname@example.org