Sunday, May 27, 2007


There's a celebrity in Korea whose nickname is "Grasshopper" (meckdoogi) and I love him. His real name is Yu Jae Sok, but he might as well be called Ubiquitous Television Man. If you were to flip channels here at any given time, he's guaranteed to be featured on three or more of them. He's everywhere, and I dig it!
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I don't watch a lot of K-television, but I will stop and check out what's happening when I see him on the screen. Invariably, it's some silly game show or competition, but it's fairly easy to get the gist of what's going on if I watch for a little bit. And I almost always laugh. Out loud. Which is more than I can say for a lot of the English shows that are shown here. (The last couple seasons of Friends, which are played on a constant loop here being an example. Can you believe they were paying the cast that much at the time to be so un-funny? Lame premises and even lame-er dialogue. Actually, I suppose it's the writers who sucked so horribly, but still.)

But even though I can't really follow what they're saying on any of Grasshopper's shows, the physical comedy makes me laugh. There's this one show which features Grasshopper and four of his friends, who are all humourous in their own right. They sit, in a straight line in pairs of two facing the camera, between a female guest celebrity who is encased in a plexiglass box. The box is there to protect her from the water!

What happens is that each of the four guys are given two key words or gestures - it might be "jinja" (really) or bringing a hand up to the mouth to giggle behind, for example. The phrase or gesture is allotted an up or a down arrow. If the guest says any of the phrases or does any of the gestures, a horn will sound. If it's a down arrow, water will gush or jet onto the appropriate man. If it's an up arrow, they will either be tipped off their chair into the pool behind them, or full on launched out of their seat! Then they'll have to climb back out of the pool to resume their position.

The guys are always caught unaware, and I love the screams they omit when they're falling into the pool or being doused with a downpour. They replay the dousing with appropriate sound effects or funny graphics. Too funny!

I think it would go over REALLY well in North America! Can you imagine "The View?" Guest celebrity Jennifer Anniston would say, "Well I really (honk-honk) enjoyed my last year on the set of,"...and suddenly Barbara Walters would go flying into the drink. Fantastic!

Whatever silly game show or competition it is, I really do like looking at Yu Jae Sok. He's got a wonderful magnanimous smile and a great sense of self deprecating humour. I mentioned to one of my classes that I loved him last week.

"I love "Meckdoogi" (Grasshopper)."
"Oh!" one of my girl-students said, "Me, too! Delicious!"
"Huh?" (She's eleven, and shouldn't be describing thirty-four year old men as delicious.)
"They're delicious. My father cooks them for us."
"Ohhhhhhh!" I said, relieved. " I meant the MAN! TV man!"
"Ahhhhh!" she laughed. " I meant grasshoppers!" And then she proceeded to tell me how her dad brings home fresh green grasshoppers and fries them up in a pan with salt until they become brown, crunchy, and delicious.

Uhhhh, mmmmkay!

1 comment:

scott said...

Ah yes, the old 'make a mistake and be dunked/hit on the head by a dropping metal tray/smacked on the head by a pretty girl with a megaphone, etc./etc.' show.

They were quite funny the first 5,000 times I saw it on Korean TV. And even funnier the next 5,000 times!

Indeed, the world can learn a lot from Korean TV.