RVOD092 Parade of Aquatic Champions

(1940s-ish, Short/Newsreel/Sports, color)


Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett

And the nearly empty warehouse goes wild.

Rating: **1/2

In a Nutshell:

Swimmers from the 1940s, won’t you?


That one foley guy must have the sorest palms in Hollywood.A narrator introduces a long list of professional swimmers, each bellyflopping into the nearby pool in turn. I recognized the names Johnny Weissmuller (an early Tarzan) and Esther Williams (notable for her numerous appearances in the water ballet fantasy sequences so popular with the musicals of that era). Also noteworthy: a ten-year-old girl named Larry. Swimming races, water waltzes, fancy diving and unfunny aquatic clown antics ensue. Either the crowd was too bored to applaud or there wasn’t a boom mike near them. The filmmakers did, however, record one guy clapping in a large empty space and dub it in later.


Parade of Aquatic Champions depicts a sporting event where people you don’t care about do things you only partially see. And even if you could see the whole thing, why would it matter? Competition is what makes a sport gripping. A football game where nameless players all wear the same unmarked jersey and run towards the same end of the field might entertain me in the Dadaist sense, but not for very long.

A couple of my favorite comments: Upon the promise of an aquatic parade, Mike says, “I’m scared of the Speedo-wearing clowns.” When the narrator notes how a participant celebrates his victory, Kevin adds, “Then he went mad with power, demanding that all sovereignty be given to him, the living spirit of Neptune.” This is the last of the shorts to originally appear in the Rifftrax Live Christmas 2009 show; being prerecorded both helps and hinders the studio version. It helps in that now all the jokes about “that one guy clapping in the warehouse” make more sense without audience reaction and theater acoustics muddying the laughable tacked-on “applause” sound effect. It hinders in that audience reaction and the energy gained from it were pretty much the only things keeping this turkey afloat. In the words of Bill Corbett, “Yes, it’s swimming. The thing your five-year-old always wants you to watch, only now you’re watching someone you don’t even know do it.” The unspoken question: why would we want to?