This morning on my daily podcast -- which I hope you're subscribing to! -- I had the opportunity to speak with the Red Panda. If you don't know, the Red Panda is the greatest halftime act on earth. It is difficult to overstate how terrific the Red Panda's act is.
To describe the act simply as what it is can't do it justice, but I shall try regardless. Basically, the Red Panda is an acrobat who rides around on a unicycle, balancing plates on her feet and then flipping the plates onto her head. See? Told you I couldn't do it justice. Watch a clip here.
That's amazing, right? It shouldn't be physically possible to do that. I'm pretty certain it's magic. Anyway, I talked to the Red Panda (real name: Krystal Liu) for the podcast this morning, and you'll love it. She's fantastic.
Talking to the Red Panda got me thinking, in general, about halftime acts. In an age of constant stimulation, the break that halftime is supposed to provide us -- a breather from the physical exhaustion that comes from watching Northwestern play Alcorn State -- is anything but: Heaven forbid we have a quiet moment of reflection, or have our attention directed inward for even half a second.
Thus: Halftime acts! My colleague Patrick Hruby has written about the lives of halftime acts before, but I'm not sure I've ever seen them ranked. Because it's Thursday, and because you've been good this week -- and I've been too serious this week -- today we attempt to rank, in GIF form (because of course), the nine best halftime shows.
I asked on Twitter yesterday for people to send me their favorites, and got so many responses that I feel bad leaving any of them off. There are plenty of great ones that didn't make this list -- Frisbee catching dogs, my homestate favorites the Jesse White Tumblers -- but here are the ones that did.
9. Quick Change
This husband-and-wife team do an old-timey magic show that's basically irresistible. This is an act that could have worked in the George Mikan days.
8. Bango, the Bucks Mascot
Lots of teams' mascots perform at halftime, but I'm pretty sure Bango -- seen here dunking backwards off a ladder while wearing a deer costume -- is the best. Here's another Bango highlight.
7. The Russian Bar
Rather basic gymnastics here, but I'm always impressed by just how much teamwork this act requires.
I know they're basically pitched at a two-year-old's level, but I'm sorry, the Zooperstars make me laugh my arse off. My favorite is the fish that eats people.
This guy is awfully impressive, but he still creeps me out.
4. The Flipping Dogs
So many dog acts to choose from, but for my money, you can't beat the dog who doesn't know down from up.
3. Team Ghost Riders (Whiplash the Cowboy Monkey)
Yeah, it's a monkey on a dog.
2. Local Youth Sports
The most popular act is perhaps the most basic one: Just little kids playing on the grownup court for 10 minutes. There's always that one ball hog kid, isn't there? Also, don't forget the wonderful moment earlier this year when J.R. Smith joined a kids' game, and the kids, unlike the Knicks, were smart enough not to give him the ball.
1. The Red Panda
Nobody beats the Red Panda. And she's as charming as she is talented.
Thanks to Michael Katz at For The Win for the help with all these GIFs. I'll be staring at them all day, I suspect.