One of the greatest features on late-night television is Jimmy Kimmel’s “Lie Witness News,” which puts a misanthropic twist on the classic man-on-the-street interview format. Instead of asking people for their opinions on, say, traffic congestion, Kimmel’s henchmen set about exposing mankind’s propensity to bullshit/refusal to say the words ‘I don’t know’/burning desire to be on television. Paste’s Hudson Hongo posted the latest installment last night, where the question was, “what did you think of Obama’s State of the Union address?” The catch? The State of the Union hadn’t happened yet. As you can imagine, that didn’t stop people from expounding on how it went down, and agreeing to incidents (Joe Biden falling asleep, Obama faking a heart attack) that the interviewer made up from whole cloth.
I call it ‘misanthropic’ because it exposes some hypocrisies about people that aren’t very appealing, and we end up looking fairly ridiculous. At the same time, though, it’s hilarious, so why not embrace the comedy at the heart of the lie? Let’s count it down, from ten to one: These are the bullshitters of America at their sputterin’ best.
10. Scented iPhone Edition
This one would be higher, but it’s a case where the idea was sheer brilliance and the reactions were only so-so. Basically, the interviewer told people that he had an iPhone that could emit smells (which I guess is a real thing, in Japan???), but you had to say the scent into the phone (lie). All he actually had was an iPhone with a piece of plastic attached. Watch the olfactory manipulation:
9. Eliza Duquesne, the Dead Celebrity
The best Lie Witness videos say something broader about our culture; our ignorance about politics, our obsession with technology, our inability to admit ignorance. This one hits at America’s obsession with the rich and famous. Eliza Duquesne was not a real star, but people were still pretty upset to hear she’d passed.
8. The Premature State of the Union
Yeah, okay, SotU segment, you’re good enough to crack the list. My favorite parts comes when the interviewer asks them to explain their answers, and we get a firsthand look at how clueless the average American really is about politics (to be fair, I include myself in this category).
7. Kim and Kanye’s Baby
Where were you when Kim and Kanye’s baby was born? Note: This happened before Kim and Kanye’s baby was born. Nevertheless, people seemed to like the baby’s name, Kimye Klondike Kardashian.
6. Vermont Polar Bear Attacks
To me, this is the most underrated of all the clips, with barley more than 100k views. The premise is that people are asked whether the recent polar bear attacks in Vermont can be blamed on global warming. (There are no polar bears in Vermont.) Like the best Lie Witness segments, though, it takes on new twists, with people asked how they felt about seeing the grisly footage, or if the bears were justified since humans caused global warming, or what they thought about a different animal called the “solar bear.”
5. Obama Appoints Judge Judge Judy to Supreme Court
Best segment concept, period, with execution that was almost as good.
4. Fashion Week
I don’t understand fashion culture AT ALL, and while I do wish I was beautiful and svelte and could pull off cool clothes, this video confirms my belief that the hardcore “fashionista” scene is something I’m okay with missing in my lifetime.
3. Beliebers in Denial
Teenage girls at a Bieber concert being asked questions like, “what do you think about Justin being criticized for having tires made of baby seals?” and “do you think Justin meant it when he peed on the American flag?” AND THEN DEFENDING HIM. This is the only acceptable way to put Beliebers on tv, and it reaches a hilarious climax when the fake tattoo pictures come out.
2. Fake NFL Draft Prospects
IT’S A NON-KIMMEL ENTRY! THE WHOLE LIST IS COMPROMISED!
Sorry about that, but I love this one. It’s probably ranked so high because I write about sports and am a little too involved with sports fans on a day-to-day basis, but I can tell you for a fact that these people think they know everything. And they’re aggressive about it, which is why sports talk radio and talking head shows on tv are dominated by blowhards; this is a reflection of the culture. To see them exposed by an interviewer asking about fake players at the NFL draft? To me, that’s glorious. (Also, the names are hilarious: Buster Hyman, Mike “The Birdman” Hawk, Neil Amplow.)
1. Fake Bands at Coachella
There’s just no beating the original classic. Sports fans may be the most self-assured about their knowledge, but nobody is quite as obsessed with obscurity like indie music fans. Here, they prove they’re no better than the jocks as they spout off on the virtues of bands like “Dr. Schlomo and the GI Clinci” and “Get the Fuck Out of My Pool.”
That’s that! The lesson here, I think, is that people are the same in every single sub-culture. And if you ever get interviewed on the street by someone from TV, BE HONEST.