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That Damn Gala

You know that thing where you’re watching gymnastics and think, “I wish this were boring and worse”?

Welcome to the Olympic Gala. The opportunity for 3 and a half people to drip into the Rio Olympic Arena to see some of the brightest male stars of the games be intensely proud of themselves for acting like insufferable hams while the brightest female stars give zero fucks and leave immediately.

If you didn’t watch it, well played.

I did. (The first one. Not the second one too. I don’t hate myself.)

So…probably sainthood, right?

It was basically one of those Gymnastics and Figure Skating Craptaculars, except without Nastia scarf-prancing to the tune of butt-shelves for thirty seconds, or some 9-year-old America’s Got Saddest glob country-twanging about hitting the open road. (And we’re all like, “You’re 9, the only thing you’re hitting is lunch recess.”)

This is how it started. (It didn’t get better.)

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Stop it. They’re supposed to be candles. I think. Or like squash or something? Get your mind out of the gutter.

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Anyway, everyone gleefully rubbed their squashes for a while, which meant it was time to introduce an acro team dressed as That Time A Parrot Exploded. As is traditional. What we have to remember is that the Acrobatics have the utmost respect for the parrot. It’s part of their culture. They use all parts of the parrot.

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Thankfully, our dear Danell Leyva is a student of history and understands the true legacy and identity of the Olympic Gala.


Danell got up on Pbars, half-assed one handstand, clapped his feet together because that was literally the most interesting thing that happened all day, and did 1.5 skills. Or as he calls it, Winter Cup.

With that out the way, he was able to get down to business and pop off his “competition jersey” for exactly one second before running away to safety like a faster version of lightning.

His plan for his gala performance was literally “1) Take my shirt off, and 2) Oh, that’s all I’ve got.”

I don’t think Danell really got the Nemov-style reaction he was looking for. Probably because the crowd consisted of two ghosts and a nap.

Italy’s rhythmic team followed Danell’s overture to Nipples In D Major with an interpretive reenactment of that time a family of Renaissance vampires tried to pass as human beings and slurp the blood of humanity.

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The point of which was to do a bunch of aerials in red coat dresses and the end.

Am I allowed to go BARF BARF BARF at the commentator’s summation of the performance as “If you want to marry these ladies, gentlemen, take your place in the queue,” even though I just posted that gif of Alexei Nemov?

I am? Good.

Breaking news: That queen of performance and dance Aly Raisman really loves being at the gala. She’s thrilled. Can’t get enough of it. She wants to stay here all day long.

Aly side-eye-snored her way through her floor routine, but without the tumbling. Because that’s why you watch Raisman’s floor. The not-tumbling. Actually, she did do a double pike, because to Aly that counts as no tumbling. Disastrously, she then repeated the double pike on dismount. Ugh. No credit. This routine composition. Who came up with it, Aliya?

A pink-encrusted British acro squad attempted a very daring piece entitled How Many Gymnasts Does It Take To Fix A Cotton Candy Machine? To which the answer is I’m asleep.

Because MAGs are the only ones who seem to understand that the entire point of these shows is aggressively kitschy embarrassment at all moments, it was down to Petrounias to do a little rings skit. Ah ha ha ha. See, it’s funny because he calls out Zanetti to help him onto the rings.

Which is both a crowd-pleasing move and a total dominance flex at the same time. “You’re the one helping me up.” Rings gymnasts have one exhibition move, which is to pretend to fall asleep in a strength hold. Petrounias did it four times, and that was his whole plan. Danell was like, “You really should have thought your exhibition routine through more.”

After that, this weird thing happened where Ganna Rizatdinova brought out a mosquito net to do an extended group tribute to Zika.

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But I think they all survived. At least, they started doing the Gator Chomp to the soundtrack of thousands of women’s screams before they all turned into butterflies. So…they’re probably fine? ART.

OK. Come on. If you’re a power-tumbling group, you can’t get on a tumble track just to do double layouts and double doubles. Simone’s sitting back there going, “I do that on the floor, goobers. Pull your life together.”

Speaking of Simone, she hopped up on the beam to do two whole back handsprings connected directly into tumblr_mhm14wjvPd1qkg5u5o1_500

The queen don’t get out of bed for your two-bit peasant trash show.

As is the purview of the star, Simone Judi-Dench-in-Shakespeare-in-Loved this big bag of nonsense, rolling up to do 15 seconds and be like, “OSCAR PLEASE.”

Diego Hypolito took this whole thing weirdly seriously, performing some actual competition skills and not even instantly bursting into tears. You know, his signature move. I mean, what do you think we keep you here for?

After RIBBONS RIBBONS RIBBONS did a reenactment of the woes of the French Revolution as told through the medium of EVEN MORE RIBBONS, it was time for another little MAG skit. OMG you guys are like SNL or something.

Li Donghua is still alive and was outfitted with an old-man wig courtesy of the Saved By The Bell costume department.

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Li hopped up to the pommels-on-the-beam-for-some-reason (you know, gymnastics) and did a bunch of spindles, at which point the Swiss MAG coaches went, “Wait, seriously? Since when? You’re hired.”

If Li Donghua is dragging himself out there, there’s really no excuse for Bogi not to do the same. Really letting us down here, Bogi.

There’s been a terrible accident at the flamingo enclosure! Nope, it’s just the Russian mixed pairs. Sorry. Never mind.

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I love that Sanne Wevers’ fake, easy exhibition routine still includes every single one of her acro elements from her normal beam routine. You know, acro skills. The filler parts.

So…um…we need to talk about this Aerobic Gymnastics performance. More specifically, why? And also, no. This is nothing. You’re literally just clapping in a circle. And one of you is three.

Arthur Zanetti hops up to rings to do this fun thing where he still looks like his face is about to pop off at any moment. He also does the falling-asleep move, at which point Petrounias rolls his eyes and remarks, “So derivative…” to brandy and a cigarette.

Belarus’ rhythmic performance is a tribute to that scene from Bridesmaids where Maya Rudolph has diarrhea in a wedding dress in the middle of the street.

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Next, Flavia rolls out of bed and sneezes to a profound giphy
from everyone.

China’s acro team returns to do that acro thing where they use the little boy as a jump rope, to which the appropriate reaction is “Oh….ew?” It doesn’t make me feel safe.

We were promised an NCAA EF-style flashmob to end the show (actually, a “flashmobe” according to the program), but everyone was so over it that they all just trudged out to wave and roll their eyes directly into the grave. Well, except for the Aerobic group who remained all peppy and overly enthusiastic. Because of course they did.

And except for Aly and Simone, who had sprinted out of there HOURS AGO. Aly left halfway through her floor routine and Simone dismounted beam straight into an Uber.

Thankfully, Diego carried Flavia out like she was a backpack. Made the whole thing worth it.

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8 thoughts on “That Damn Gala”

  1. This is the best thing I’ve ever read, well maybe 2nd to “When Wolf Turns Go Bad”. I subjected myself to both the first and second Gala’s (hey I’m bored at work) and the only difference was Madison Kocian on floor (???) instead of Aly and Laurie on beam (instead of Simone). Gabby who?


  2. I fell out reading “two ghosts and a nap” because that’s exactly what it was. Then I subjected myself to more of this gala nonsense. Oleg was on HB. Would have been interesting to read your remarks about that lol.


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