Today we are celebrating a tradition here in the United States, where a group of large men who resemble gladiators, toss an odd looking “ball” around that’s wrapped in pigskin as they pummel each other for points.
It’s called “football” and, since it’s the biggest game of the year, ending “the season” and determining who are the best darned players in the whole nation, I’d like to take advantage of the festive spirit of it all to talk about the parents of late night talk show host, James Corden.
James is actually from England, and so are his parents, who visited San Francisco three years ago on this very weekend. James hosts a talk show on CBS here in America, and it’s on really, really late, so they call it The Late Late Show.
They play football in England too, but it’s a different kind. First of all, the balls are super easy to roll because they’re actually round, whereas ours are all pointy and don’t roll well at all. Try rolling one someday and you’ll see, they just kind of wobble.
The rules and the objective of the other kind of football game are also quite different from ours. The players are not allowed to handle the ball with their hands, so they use their feet a lot to kick the ball around the field. Sometimes, they even use their heads.
Our big gladiator guys handle their pointy balls with their hands, throwing them and carrying them, so we should actually just call it “handball” and, we would, except there’s a whole other sport already called that, which uses tiny round balls that players smash against walls at about a hundred miles per second, toweling themselves off afterward before heading back to their jobs at the law firm.
If you just found this blog and you don’t know me from Joe Montana, who is a now-retired American football player who happens to live in San Francisco (which is nowhere near Montana), you should know that I also live in San Francisco, where I make my living as a tour guide on one of those open-top tour buses you see in major cities.
The big, American football spectacle every year is called “The Super Bowl” because it’s really super, and they play it in a big stadium that bears a slight resemblance to a bowl.
It’s kind of strange how they work it. We have another sport here called “baseball” and, at the end of the baseball season, we’re left with two opposing teams who play a “best of seven” series against each other, splitting the difference between their home stadiums.
But The Super Bowl is different. First of all, it’s only one game, so everyone takes it quite seriously. Also, they pick the stadium bowl way ahead of time, before they even know which two teams are going to rise to the top in the end.
So those two teams battle it out on a Sunday, which is always right around this time every year, and they do so at a stadium bowl that isn’t necessarily the “home” bowl of either team.
For example, this year they are playing “The Big Game” in Atlanta, which is somewhere in the state of Georgia, but the teams are “The New England Patriots” and “The Los Angeles Rams,” neither of which live anywhere near Atlanta.
Oh, I should mention that I started calling it “The Big Game” in the above paragraph because the outfit that puts on this spectacle every year — “National Football League” — owns the previous term that I shouldn’t use now, because they will likely sue my pants off if I continue calling it that.
Therefore I will now stick with the non-lawsuit generating generic term, “The Big Game,” for the rest of this post.
In 2016, “The Big Game” was played near San Francisco but, of course, the two teams of gladiators who made it to the top didn’t live here. They were from Denver, a city in the state of Colorado, and North Carolina, which is somewhere in the south.
They were “The Denver Broncos” and “The Carolina Panthers.”
Now, don’t ask me why most teams of gladiators are named after a city, like “The DENVER Broncos,” while “The CAROLINA Panthers” are named after an entire state, North Carolina, and they don’t even use the “North” part in their name, given that there’s also a South Carolina, because I have absolutely no idea.
Also, just to add to the confusion if you’re not an American person and you don’t live here and know almost nothing about our football and geography, North Carolina is in the south. So is South Carolina; we call North Carolina what we call it, only because it’s north of South Carolina, even though both states are in the south.
If you’re totally confused, we can switch back to football now, if only to confuse you even more.
Frankly, I’m not much of a football fan, so I don’t care about it at all. To be honest, I care more about “the deficit,” and I don’t even know what that is.
At this point, you’re probably wondering what late-night talk show host James Corden, who is English, has to do with any of this, and why I’m talking about football — be it round or pointy — when I’ve just confessed to not being a fan?
Well, in 2016, when the Denver gladiators played the gladiators from North Carolina, we had a bunch of fans show up and take our bus tours during the week proceeding “The Big Game,” which was going to be played on the following Sunday at our stadium.
It was easy to tell which people were fans of which team, because the word “fan” is short for the word fanatic, and these fanatics would show up wearing the appropriate jerseys to support their chosen teams.
I personally liked the Carolina Panther jerseys best, because they’re a lovely blue on black motif, whereas the gladiators out of Denver Colorado wear blue also, but with mostly (ugh) orange.
No, I’m not gay.
I’d really love to show you pictures of these jerseys, especially the pretty Panther ones, but all of those colors and trademarks and such are owned by the teams and “National Football League.” Once more, I don’t want to get my pants sued off.
Just google that stuff yourself if you really want to see them.
On the Saturday right before “The Big Game,” I was hosting a bus tour that seemed to have a nearly equal number of fanatics who were all wearing jerseys reflecting their allegiance to their respective gladiators. Standing out among the sea of blue, black, and (ugh) orange, were two older people who were each wearing a jersey from an opposing team.
He was wearing a Denver Broncos jersey, while hers was that awesome Carolina Panthers motif, which really brought out her eyes and nicely matched her earrings.
AGAIN, I’M NOT GAY.
They appeared to be a couple, holding hands the way they were, and to make it even weirder, I noticed that they were English because the man used a delightful English accent to ask me where they could find a good restaurant in Fisherman’s Wharf after the tour.
I directed them to Scoma’s because it’s a good restaurant in Fisherman’s Wharf, and that was that.
We didn’t really chat much as they got off the bus because I had a whole lot of other fanatics wanting to know where to go for this or that, but I did think it odd that two older people with English accents would be supporting two opposing American football teams and would apparently be attending “The Big Game” the following day.
The next day was Sunday, which was game day, and I managed to make it through the entire day without seeing one minute of “The Big Game,” opting instead to give tours to non-fans, who numbered maybe 20 people at best, mostly from India, Sweden, and Uzbekistan.
A few days slipped by uneventfully, which brought us to the following Wednesday, late at night, right before bedtime. I had just settled down with my WIFE of many years (NOT.GAY.SEE?) and we decided to wind down with a viewing of James Corden’s The Late Late Show, which had taped a few hours earlier down in Los Angeles.
After his opening monologue, they came back from commercial and James said something to this effect:
“Since *THE BIG GAME* was on Sunday… (he used the actual term because his show is on CBS, which has the rights to use it, unlike me, and I like my pants) …we thought it would be great to fly my mum and dad from across the pond (England) to the states, and send them up to San Francisco to take in the biggest American football game of the year.”
Then he showed a video of “mum and dad” horsing around in San Francisco, hanging out with gladiators and watching “The Big Game.” Since you’re so darned smart, you smart reader you, I’m sure you’ve already guessed that “mum and dad” were the two nice English folks I had on my tour the previous Saturday.
I had been drifting off gently to sleep during Jame’s monologue (I’ve had people do that during my tours, so I know how it feels) but this video got my attention when I noticed that “mum and dad” were that English couple, so I sat upright on the bed and nudged my wife (NOT.GAY.), telling her that I had met them a few days earlier.
After James played the short video of “mum and dad” horsing around, they cut back to the talk show studio and what took place then is in the video I’ve posted for you below.
James asked his dad what the highlight of the trip was, and dad replied:
“Apart from the experience of the actual *THE BIG GAME*, we did one of those hop-on, hop-off bus tours, and the guy who did the commentary was fantastically knowledgeable, BUT really entertaining and funny…”
James interrupted, saying:
“HOLD ON, so we had flown you to San Francisco, to go to *THE BIG GAME*, and the best bit was the hop-on, hop off bus tour? Are you sure you’re not being paid by the company to say that?”
Yeah, we’re sure, because that company was the company I work for, and that guide was me. Now I was bouncing up and down on the bed, shouting:
“DAVE! MY NAME IS DAVE! I SAID IT ABOUT 18 TIMES DURING THE TOUR, MISTER CORDEN! DAVE DAVE DAVE! DAMMIT, MY NAME IS DAVE!”
At this point, my wife – Mrs. Dave – reminded me that people on TV can’t actually hear you no matter how loud you shout. Therefore, it remains a one-way street, despite how much you’d like Mr. Corden to say your name to a nationwide audience of millions of talk-show fanatics.
Alas, I may have a video posted below to prove that it actually happened, but since he didn’t utter the name “DAVE,” you’ll just have to take my word for it when I tell you I was the guy.
I’ve gotten my share of compliments over the years along with a few grumbles here and there, but to this day, my favorite compliment stands above the rest, because of a fun-loving Englishman who gave me a sincere shout-out to a national audience late one night in February of 2016, even though he couldn’t remember my name.
Thanks, Mr. Corden, and I hope you enjoyed The Big Game between the Denver Bronchial Asthmas and Caroline’s Pretty Panthers, or whatever they’re called.
I’d ask you who won, but I bet you don’t remember (completely understandable) and, frankly, I don’t care at all.
In my next post, I shall discuss the deficit, whatever that is.