In these days of DVRs and Internet recaps, it's nice to know there's still room for some old-fashioned live television spectacles.
Thirteen million people tuned in to see Nik Wallenda, the seventh generation of the famous Flying Wallendas, totter 1,500 feet above the Little Colorado River Gorge, giving Discovery Channel its highest ratings in three years. Tweets reached a peak of nearly 40,000 a minute as he made his way across. #Wallenda, #Skywire, and even #YesJesus (he thanked J.C. 61 times in 22 minutes) were among the terms that trended on Twitter.
Last year, Wallenda crossed Niagara Falls in under 30 minutes, making him the first person to traverse the rim of the biggest waterfall in North America on a high wire. His great-grandfather (who died after falling from a tightrope in Puerto Rico in 1978) would have been proud.
People have been daring devils since long before TV was a thing, but Robert "Evel" Knievel was the first to truly bring the two together. He holds the world record for most broken bones (433) and still managed to die of heart disease at 69. A life well lived.
Every bit the daredevil his father was, Robbie Knievel hopes to someday complete the Snake River Canyon jump (aboard the rocket-powered Skycycle X-2) that almost killed Evel. If you can think of three words more exciting in combination than "snake," "rocket," and "evil," you are a dirty liar.
"The French Spider-Man" doesn't have the benefit of big TV payouts, because when he scales skyscrapers with no climbing equipment, he does so illegally, making him the Evel Knievel of the YouTube generation.
A daredevil combines excitement with a demonstration of the amazing things a single human being is capable of. And while Blaine doesn't quite live up to the first part, this "endurance artist" still amazes us with feats we didn't know our bodies were capable of.
Excitement plus amazing feats minus amazing feats plus poop jokes isn't quite daredevil, but we'll take it.
Have you ever done that thing where you hold your arms straight out to see how long you can do it? Seems easy, but after a couple minutes, it gets ridiculously hard. Now imagine you're doing it for five hours. Now imagine if you drop your arms, you'll slam into a wall at 230 mph and catch on fire. That's daredevil.
The "BASE" in BASE jumping stands for building, antennas, spans (bridges), and earth; time to add another 'S.' The only problem with BASE jumping from space is topping yourself. Maybe Baumgartner's next leap will be from the moon?
- Nik Wallenda
- Evel Knievel
- Robbie Knievel