I’m a typical male. I’m easily amused by things that explode, things that wear bikinis, or things that look edible. I’m not much more intelligent than a dude in a beer commercial. That’s reflected in my summer television choices. I find it funny when people fall. That’s why I watch Wipeout.

Wipeout is a guilty pleasure. I know that I shouldn’t laugh at fat people making fools of themselves as they flop around on an obstacle course, but there’s something comforting about schadenfreude, about knowing that you’re not the biggest schmuck on the planet. No matter how stupid or unathletic you are, someone is worse than you and is willing to appear on television to show off their supposed intelligence and fitness, blissfully unaware of their lack of aptitude.

Yet, I can’t help but pick out favourites and cheer for them, much like a teen girl watching American Idol. Sometimes it’s the crazy quirky guy who yells “Big Balls! Woohoo!” at every opportunity. Sometimes it’s the middle-aged mom who’s trying to prove her coolness to her children. And sometimes it’s the college kid whose friends dared him to go on the show. There’s something poetic about ordinary people rising to the occasion to surmount giant obstacles. The foam-covered contraptions are symbolic of our daily struggles. They hit us in the face and knock us down, but we get right back up and try again. That stubbornness and resilience are the foundations of great success. That never-give-up attitude has led to mankind’s greatest achievements, and it’s reflected in the competitors’ desire to overcome adversity. When I cheer for a contestant on Wipeout, I cheer for humanity.

Or maybe it’s just funny when people fall.

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