Pat O’Connell has a new talk show. Check Surfline.com for “Going Off with Pat O’Connell” and catch the ex-pro, who last made a Scribble appearance in connection with shifting baselines. He’ll be posting interviews with new guests every two weeks.
This week he sits down with Rob Machado, owner of the gnarliest hair in all of professional sports. The topic under discussion: Who’s going to win the surfing world tour this year? Will it be Mick Fanning, the blazing Ozzie who everyone thinks is overdue, or Andy Irons, the competitive bulldog with three consecutive titles from earlier this decade?
The result is intensely uncomfortable to watch but also, somehow, gripping. The producers put them before radio-style mikes in a darkened room. O’Connell shifts uneasily in his seat and pulls his knee up under his armpit for half the show. They cut to surf-flick outtakes whenever the tension gets too great.
Machado cuts in to make a point, then apologizes, realizing that snaking someone in conversation is kind of like stealing waves. O’Connell’s sentences start forcefully but end with an abrupt upswing, as if he’s duck diving. Machado’s are often two syllables, one of which is a chuckle.
Machado pronounces Fanning “unfadeable,” and O’Connell is all over him. “You’re kind of dancing on the line dude, it’s a yes or a no.” Machado clarifies that “unfadeable” means a sure thing. Uh, obviously?
But I love this attempt to inject articulate conversation into the least articulate of all sports. Only two more weeks till the next episode. Theme: Will a pro event ever be won again on anything but a thruster? Perhaps they’re working up to the Middle East.