News Flash: ESPN to Launch New Show: “That’s Hilarious!” With Michael Smith

07.19.2011 | 10:45 am

An [Updated] Note from Fatty: The pre-order for 2012 Fat Cyclist gear is now over. To everyone who ordered something: thank you very much.

Another Note from Fatty: For those unfamiliar with the Michael Smith saga, today’s piece may not make sense. I mean, even less sense than usual. So you may want to check out a much less opaque editorial here. And lots of details and a chronology with additional resources here.

News Flash: ESPN to Launch New Show: “That’s Hilarious!” With Michael Smith

201107190813.jpg New York (Fat Cyclist Fake News Service) — ESPN, The Worldwide Leader in Sports™, announced today that it is launching a new daily TV series, hosted by popular ESPN anchor Michael Smith, called That’s Hilarious!

Said ESPN Spokesperson Deb “Tome” Forte, “This is a dangerous world, and terrible, tragic things happen every single day to completely innocent people.”

Continued Forte, “It’s time we have a TV show that laughs at those people.”

According to Forte, “Once in a lifetime — no, make that three lifetimes — the idea for a show reveals itself to us nearly fully-formed, with a perfect synergy of network relevance, human interest, and an anchor who was born for the job.”

Emphasized Forte, “That’s Hilarious! is just such a show.”

Genesis of a Genius Idea

The idea for the new television show came about quite by accident — literally — according to the host of the new show. “I was with my co-hosts of Around the Horn when we saw this bike race thingy. And — get this, ‘cuz it’s gonna just totally going to make you laugh your butt off — a car swipes one of the riders, causing him and another rider to crash and they both nearly die!

Smith then broke into uncontrollable laughter for the next seven minutes.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry. But that is just so funny,” said Smith between additional fits of giggles, tears streaming down his face. “I’m sorry, it’s just that that crash is hilarious. Every. Time.

At this point, Smith relapsed into laughter, unable to speak.

“Do you see what we have here?” said Forte, smiling at Smith. “Michael Smith has a rare and wonderful gift. While most people would find Smith’s behavior psychotic and reprehensible,” continued Forte as she patted Smith on the head, “We at ESPN see an opportunity. An opportunity, specifically, to take the pain of others and treat it as if it were funny as hell.”

What Viewers Can Expect

In each episode of That’s Hilarious!, Michael Smith will show clips of human suffering. Smith will watch each clip several times, laughing as other people get hurt, always through no fault of their own.”

“That’s one of our gating criteria for showing a clip,” said Smith. “The person who gets hurt has to be just doing their thing. You know, like riding a bike in a race on a road. Or maybe waterskiing.”

“And then I’ll say something insightful that explains why it’s so funny, like, ‘For real, am I wrong for laughing at that? Can’t get over the driver speeding off as if he didn’t know he hit someone!’”

“Oh, sure, I know that the driver didn’t actually go speeding off, but if you just look at the ten-second clip I watch, then pretend nothing happens after that clip, well: pure comedy gold!”

“At least in early episodes, we’ll try to stick with sports as topics for Smith to laugh at,” said Forte. “But let’s face it, there’s a lot of stuff that happens to people who aren’t doing anything even remotely sport-related, and we want to give Michael the opportunity to laugh at them, too. And there are a lot of ways people can get hurt in this world that we don’t want to exclude. I mean, when someone sends us video of another guy getting bitten buy a shark or maimed in a construction accident, how can we in good conscience deprive Michael of the chance to laugh at those people too?”

“Anyway,” said Smith, wheezing and gasping, “after I laugh for a while, I’ll open up the phones and let people call in. I expect that people who are totally unfamiliar with the way the person in the clip got hurt will agree with me, and we’ll laugh together and probably watch the clip a couple more times, making fun of how stupid that person is for even being on a bike, or going waterskiing, or being a construction worker, or whatever.”

“After that,” said Forte, “We expect the offended calls to come in, with people saying things like, ‘Hey, I was out swimming and got my arm bitten off by a shark and I nearly died and it was terrifying and more incredibly painful than you can possibly imagine; how can you find that funny?’”

“Honestly,” continued Forte, “That’s when the real fun will begin. Smith will start by just baiting and taunting the callers. Then, once we’ve gotten enough calls, he’ll offer a few more taunts, and then maybe a fake apology.”

“We’ll then go to commercial break,” explained Smith, “After which instead of me, there’ll be a guy from legal, with his hand in a sock puppet that looks like me, and he’ll offer a carefully worded, stilted apology that nobody in their right minds would ever believe I would actually say.

“And then,” concluded Smith, “POOF! I’ll disappear! Just like magic.”

Co-hosted by Tony Kornheiser, That’s Hilarious! will air thrice daily daily on ESPN, ESPN2,, ESPNU, ESPN Goal Line, ESPN Buzzer Beater, ESPN Classic, ESPN Xtreme, ESPN5, ESPN Radio, ESPN Kitchen, ESPN for Kidz, ESPN for Left-Handed People, and ESPN Estonia. Check your local listings for times.

Johnny Hoogerland was unavailable for comment, because he was too busy racing his bike several hours per day, with legs held together by about three spools of thread.


  1. Comment by elvis | 07.19.2011 | 11:00 am

    what was that all about?

  2. Comment by Brian | 07.19.2011 | 11:02 am

    HAHAHAHAHAHA. Well done! Between you and bikesnob, you’ve both addressed how big of a jackass Michael Smith is way better than I could have.

  3. Comment by Bob | 07.19.2011 | 11:24 am

    @Elvis: Stage 9 TDF crash where a French TV2/3 car swerved into Juan Antonio Flecha sending Flecha into Johnny Hoogerland and then to the pavement. Hoogerland flipped over his bike in a ditch and landed in a barbed wire fence.

    Hoogerland untangled himself, asked for an allen wrench to adjust his handlebars and finished the last 35K of the stage. After the awards ceremony where both were awarded w/ the combativeness proze for the day and Hoogerland the polka dot jersey, Hoogerland went to the hospital for 33 stiches.

    Both are still racing.

  4. Comment by a chris | 07.19.2011 | 11:38 am

    Wow, I had no idea. About Smith and his comments, I mean. How could anyone find that funny? It’s horrifying to watch.

    On top of the fact that most people racing the TdeF are feeling more in touch with mortality after the tragedy with Wouter Weylandt earlier this year.

  5. Comment by Clydesteve | 07.19.2011 | 11:38 am

    Adding in Tony Kornholer – nice touch!

  6. Comment by Clydesteve | 07.19.2011 | 11:38 am

    oh, did I misspell his name?

  7. Comment by Maggi | 07.19.2011 | 11:42 am

    Pure gold, Fatty.

  8. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 07.19.2011 | 11:46 am

    Thanks Elden for bringing this to your great community of activists. Let’s get together and ride circles around Michael Smith’s house until he ‘Man’s Up”, comes out in his riding ‘kit’ and goes for a ride with Team Fatty. Might I suggest RAWROD, and a special stop at that arch. Now that would be hilarious.

    But then he might be busy laughing at replays of Dale Earnhardts Nascar Crash (fatal), Dennis Byrd’s football collision 1992 (paralysis), oh, and the self amputating rock climber, the shark bit surfer girl, there’s no shortage of material for Mr. Smith to tweet on…THE TWITT!

  9. Comment by KM | 07.19.2011 | 11:48 am

    Good one! Stevil at AHTBM did a hilarious (and potentially inappropriate, depending upon your view of humor….consider yourself warned if you’re offended by human anatomy and don’t say I didn’t warn you) photoshop on this matter. Michael Smith is an idiot.

  10. Comment by Jenn | 07.19.2011 | 12:08 pm

    Well done, Fatty. I hadn’t heard about Smith’s comments (we’re not Stateside) but am unfortunately not surprised at all by ESPN’s lack of reaction. May have to get out my poison pen for them (again).

  11. Comment by Tim | 07.19.2011 | 12:46 pm

    What??? Not available on ESPN Ocho??

  12. Comment by Russ | 07.19.2011 | 12:46 pm

    You forgot ESPN8, The Ocho.

    And they already made this show, it’s called America’s Funniest Home Videos. I won’t watch it because it seems to be all about laughing at people getting hurt.

  13. Comment by Dave | 07.19.2011 | 1:04 pm

    Awesome post Fatty.

  14. Comment by blair | 07.19.2011 | 1:17 pm

    I think that is an inappropriate topic for a television show.

    Unless the audience members are each given a baseball when they enter the studio.

  15. Comment by Aaron | 07.19.2011 | 1:19 pm

    Am I wrong for laughing about a fake news piece about someone who laughed at that Tour de France crash? I’m sorry, this post is hilarious. Every. Time.

  16. Comment by GenghisKhan | 07.19.2011 | 1:25 pm

    Aaron stole my line. (And wrote it better!)

  17. Comment by stuckinmypedals | 07.19.2011 | 1:34 pm

    Great post, Fatty. @Aaron, well played, sir.

  18. Comment by Eric | 07.19.2011 | 1:38 pm

    Riding a bicycle on the road is dangerous. Road hazards, mechanical breakdowns and 2 ton automobiles piloted by the indifferent. I simply cannot fathom how anyone, anyone at all, finds video of riders being injured in such circumstances funny. Yes, we as a nation do tend to be a bit overly sensitive to being offended by speech but there’s a very definite line between laughing at slapstick and laughing at a bike crash at 35 miles per hour. Especially for someone in a position to influence his audience the way Smith can.

  19. Comment by wes | 07.19.2011 | 1:41 pm

    I don’t really understand all the outrage over one person’s take on this wreck, although Fatty the post is hilarious. We watch bloopers, wrecks, accidents on TV all the time and often they are funny in their own tragic way (Tosh.0, and other TV shows have made a killing off of it) I disagree with Smith’s opinion on the matter but cyclists are out for some major blood over it.

  20. Comment by Jenni | 07.19.2011 | 1:57 pm

    Team Fatty Philly is done! Join up people!

  21. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 07.19.2011 | 1:59 pm

    OK Done my part for your son’s education. I expect to see pictures of the extra large stereo speakers I just financed.(they still use those don’t they) Also he can just post a picture of his first ‘blue book’ assignment and grade.

    Show of hands for Blue Books.

  22. Comment by Jim | 07.19.2011 | 2:23 pm

    In an earlier press release, Jesper Skibby indicated that he feels Hoogerland is a “prancing Dutch wussy who’s afraid to go under the wheel,” and he’s challenged both Hoogerland and Michael Smith to a Skoda Demolition Derby at the Vuelta. Skibby and Hoogerland will compete in Skodas; Smith will compete on a custom 14 lb 11 ounce Colnago Extreme Power with carbon fiber wheels, and will stretch a sheer white lycra skin suit over his soft lardy bits.

    For his part, Skibby is getting ready for the Derby the same way he prepared for the spring classics, by ingesting copious amounts of drugs and alcohol, some of it performance-enhancing, some of which only makes one feel as if performance is being enhanced. Smith is following a similar regimen, using crack and 151, a routine similar to the one he follows prior to tweeting daily race commentary. Hoogerland indicated that he’d like to get away and compete in it, but right now, “he’s hung up on some other stuff, kind of entangled in a few things.”

    Las Vegas handicappers, large men who go around with lengths of pipe and make debtors into handicapped people, have not given odds on who will win, but are taking bets that Smith, on a bicycle, is a heavy favorite to lose, a fact that punters find is *hilarious*.

  23. Comment by roadrash | 07.19.2011 | 2:27 pm

    Also available on ESPN Ouch and ESPN Never Again

    Pretty impressive that ESPN can alienate a significant audience that would be attractive to most advertisers.

    They must be rolling in dough

  24. Comment by 3d brian | 07.19.2011 | 4:15 pm

    Good concept, but it’s already been done … America’s Funniest Home Videos.

  25. Comment by Susan | 07.19.2011 | 4:20 pm

    Great post Elden. Smith & ESPN deserve this and more. It was awful when I went and read to see what was going on, after Johan Bruneel asked about it on his FB page. What a sad state; unfortunately, idiots like Smith don’t believe bike racing is a real sport. It doesn’t involve being tackled, sliding into a base, or being knocked to the floor during a penalty shot (basketball). Okay, I don’t know my sports very well. ESPN should have suspended or fired this idiot! Keep up the great work!

  26. Comment by ecco | 07.19.2011 | 4:29 pm

    @Wes — it wasn’t just one person’s take on it, at the outset. Two network shows (AtH & PTI) both did segments on the 11th which were utterly reprehensible. The segments amounted to both shows tacitly encouraging drivers to hit cyclists because “it’s funny” and “they just get up again.”

    Viewers expressed their outrage, and then Smith decided to be obdurate on Twitter for a couple of days – which is why he’s getting most of the fallout. That said, the “fire him” campaign diverts attention from the real problems with ESPN’s coverage of cycling and from the fact that it was seven guys with national mouthpieces acting irresponsibly and not just one.

    Anyhow, well done Fatty. I want all of them to commute to their studios via bike for a month and see if they’re still laughing and defending drivers who hit cyclists.

  27. Comment by Heather | 07.19.2011 | 4:49 pm

    Seriously? Moron. And thanks to a fantastically cruder day at work, one causing me to leave way late, I missed my chance at the pre sale. Grrrr. I’ll wait for the t’s.

  28. Comment by rabidrunner | 07.19.2011 | 5:05 pm

    I blame boxing. (I blame everything on boxing for everything, include.) For some reason Americans are entertained by seeing people suffer. I also find it sad that crashes increase viewer ratings for cycling events. If you go to the MSNBC/sports cycling site, you can see the each and every crash, labeled individually, for your viewing enjoyment. Not cool.

  29. Comment by Wing-Nut | 07.19.2011 | 5:17 pm

    I’ve already sent my email to ESPN. Their reply was as canned as Smith’s apology. I’m thinking that my next step is to email the names of riders that I personally know who have been injured or died because of the inattention or ignorance of drivers.

    I wish I had the resources to have a lawyer contact Mr Smith personally. The next time a texting teen age driver brushes me off the road I would certainly try to convince a jury that Mr Smith (and ESPN by their tacit agreement) are complicit in reckless behavior if not outright assault.

  30. Comment by Wing-Nut | 07.19.2011 | 5:27 pm

    Just a thought…What about every cyclist mailing a short section of barbed wire or razor wire to Mr Smith’s office. Not as a threat but as a joke……wait that isn’t funny is it? You can bet that he would have ESPN put a stop to that real quick.

  31. Comment by LIz | 07.19.2011 | 5:51 pm

    Well done! They should be embarrassed, but I doubt they are capable of that.

    I ordered my first ever Fatcyclist jersey! I’m looking forward to my first opportunity to join my teammates. Although judging from the Garmin data that Elden periodically posts, I’m going to get dropped from the peleton pretty quickly. No matter . . . I’m sure you all will save some pie or donuts or whatever you are enjoying post race for me.

  32. Comment by AngieG | 07.19.2011 | 6:03 pm

    It’s people like Michael Smith that really make me appreciate the values embedded in me by my parents. How anyone can find that crash funny, I’m not sure. Everytime I see it, it makes my stomach turn. Then tack on Johnny Hoogerland’s dad at the end of the stage completely overraught with emotion. Man, truly difficult to watch.
    I guess I can only warn Michael Smith to be careful, Karma can be an unfriendly thing.

  33. Comment by AngieG | 07.19.2011 | 6:07 pm

    @Liz, Congrats on your awesome taste. Welcome to the the most amazing group of peeps ever!!

    Don’t worry about being dropped. That’s the utter beauty of being a part of Team Fatty, we come in all shapes, sizes and speeds. I have no doubt there is another Fatty you can paceline with. And yes there will always be pie for you at the end. :-)

  34. Comment by Doug (way upstate NY) | 07.19.2011 | 6:57 pm

    Another not funny comment from someone in the press……..

  35. Comment by roan | 07.19.2011 | 7:08 pm

    Smith & ESPN & most of the American public, not surprising.
    Living in a university city(Seattle) and visiting another July 10th (Davis) I’m sure Smith will find plenty of hilarious bicycle things laughable.Fixed gear biking by semi-educated students, no helmets, no brakes and “what…there was a stop sign ?, I’m on a bike I’ve got the ‘Right of Way’.”

  36. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 07.19.2011 | 7:23 pm

    @Comment by LIz | 07.19.2011 | 5:51 pm

    Disregard Fatty’s Garmin data. Much of it is just made up: he walked the dog at 30mph! Yeah, out the car window.

    Like Angie said, we travel at all sorts of speeds, and surprisingly the expectation of pie at the end, or donuts in the middle, seems to lift everyones tempo.

    Plus someone needs to ride sweep and bring home the daisy.


  37. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 07.19.2011 | 7:24 pm

    OK! It wasn’t that big on Fatty’s post?

  38. Comment by Scott R | 07.19.2011 | 8:11 pm

    Listening to the podcast, I actually though Smith’s comments were only the 3rd most offensive statements on that section of Around the Horn.

  39. Comment by Jim | 07.19.2011 | 8:47 pm

    In all seriousness though, aren’t we getting a little bit overwrought, when Versus runs the footage every 5 minutes on an apparent If It Bleeds It Leads full on exploitation publicity strategy?

  40. Comment by Heber Chad | 07.19.2011 | 8:51 pm

    I was really hoping Dr Lammier would comment on thus post. His insight would be invaluable!

  41. Comment by KanyonKris | 07.19.2011 | 11:05 pm

    hahaha, Michael Smith’s career in broadcasting is over. So funny, Every. Time.

  42. Comment by Jenn | 07.20.2011 | 12:07 am

    @DavidH-marin re: your last post: That’s what she said. (I know this doesn’t entirely make sense here. It usually doesn’t when I’m compelled to say it, but I am nonetheless compelled.)

  43. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 07.20.2011 | 12:25 am


    I had to re-read my entry, and then…..

    BTW I’m pretty sure it’s never been on Fatty’s post. Oh. Wait a minute. The famous purple snipe post. There wasn’t a picture I’m pretty sure, but believe me, I’m not going to look….

    [And so I called Dug into my office — we both worked in the same building, on the same floor at Novell at the time, and as you may expect accomplished a lot every single day — and said, “You have to see this.”]

    [..because Dug was collapsed on the floor, laughing so hard he could not breathe.]

    I think Dug tells us all we need to know.

  44. Comment by dan | 07.20.2011 | 2:02 am

    If we want to put the heat on Michael Smith / ESPN, we really need to be writing to ESPN’s advertisers. Um, I don’t have cable, so don’t really know who that would be. Can anyone help fill me in?

  45. Comment by Bike Nazi | 07.20.2011 | 8:12 am

    With biking, training, racing, and work, I have little time for anything else. I didn’t know that this reporter said these thoughtless, irresponsible comments. I’m glad he is coming under fire for it. Drivers get frustrated on the road and often don’t think about how their aggression toward cyclists could get us killed.


  46. Comment by Elvis | 07.20.2011 | 8:58 am

    Thanks for providing some context. Rumors of my death are greatly exaggerated. However, it doesn’t mean I don’t live under a rock.

  47. Comment by Dave T | 07.20.2011 | 10:16 am

    Excellent post fatty this guy is an idiot.

    Now that you are done with the Tour De Donut how about a Tour De Pie held on 3-14 of course.

  48. Comment by RedNBlondies | 07.20.2011 | 10:56 am

    @DaveT, or a Tour de Mole on 10-23 (molasses cookies for snacks). Hey, any excuse to ride and eat goodies!

    Mike Smith is an idiot!!

  49. Comment by davidh-marin,ca | 07.20.2011 | 11:06 am


    Start Time: 1:59.26?

  50. Comment by Scott Winkels | 07.20.2011 | 11:44 am

    I sent an email to ESPN after Smith’s comments and got a canned response back. However, I was drinking a Nestle Quick while I was writing the email and noticed an ESPN logo on it. It appears Nestle is sponsoring some sort of contest with ESPN ( I think the winner gets to poke fun at football players taking oxygen after 15 min of play). So I sent an email to Nestle as well and Progressive auto-insurance as well as they’re also an ESPN sponosor. Maybe others should do likewise.

  51. Comment by NYCCarlos | 07.20.2011 | 11:46 am

    Check it out fatties – the gauntlet has been thrown down by Johan! Check out the new contest!

  52. Comment by bikemike | 07.20.2011 | 1:24 pm

    “with squinting eyes”…i see what you did there.

  53. Comment by Chris | 07.20.2011 | 1:46 pm

    I thought Fatty would have posted this tribute to him from the gang at World Bicycle Relief-

    @NYCCarlos, it’s amazing what Johan is proposing….

  54. Comment by Skaught | 07.20.2011 | 1:48 pm

    Deb “Tome” Forte = anagram for “Bottom Feeder.” Clever, Fatty.

  55. Comment by Mark Kynaston | 07.21.2011 | 2:13 am


    That was just funny, funny, and more funny.

  56. Comment by becky | 07.21.2011 | 8:01 am

    Comment by Scott Winkels | 07.20.2011 | 11:44 am

    “I sent an email to ESPN after Smith’s comments and got a canned response back. However, I was drinking a Nestle Quick while I was writing the email and noticed an ESPN logo on it.”

    I don’t use Nestle products.The company has business practices that are harmful to third world countries and the environment of the state I live in.

  57. Comment by skippy | 07.24.2011 | 2:29 am

    Through ” Team Fatty ” 650 Africans are riding bikes ! AMAZING EFFORT FOLKS !

    The tribute paid by JB is so understated that those outside the ” loop ” possibly do not realise how much has been achieved in such a short time !

    The new contest for ” 1000 bikes ” is an achievable target by “Team Fatty ” and i look forward to seeing how much the ” bar ” is raised above that target !

    Ralph Nadar was a campaigner in the 1970’s and showed how powerful a weapon that ” turning off consumers ” can be so it is obvious that by ” Team Fatty ” campaigning their ” Followers , Friends & Family ” a HUGE Result can be achieved in acting against those that denigrate cyclists !

    Wednesday on the Etappe Route i was left “Skinned ” and sore after an Italian overtook then threw a ” U turn ” without signalling ! Not only did the prat tell me that the bleeding was minor and the damage to the bike was of no consequence , he drove off without exchanging details ! Sadly the locals took little notice since i tried to haul him out of the car as he attempted to drive off .

    Caribinerie were called as i washed the blood off the wounds but took little interest after i said i would not be going to the hospital . Losing that 1/2hr with the road closures about to come into effect left me little choice as i rode half way up the Sestriere climb but to descend and take the longer route around through Susa to arrive at the finish in Pinerolo .

    Seeing my mates ” Jaffa & JH ” spinning through the air on Sunday reminded me of ” Wooter ” and thankfully they both told me later in the week that they were recovering when i spoke with them in Pinerolo . ” Jaffa ” shrugged off the incident as he always does but Johnny was more thoughtful about his injuries !

    When will the “PUBLIC ” get the message that “RACERS ” have to get up and continue BUT THE ORDINARY CYCLIST does not have that ability or desire to suffer from the “inattention or cussedness ” of the everyday motorist ?


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