Kenny Mayne is no newcomer to the web series world. The collegiate quarterback and almost-30-year veteran of professional sports broadcasting with a penchant for ponies, dry wit, and deadpan delivery starred in the 2008 ESPN original web series Mayne Street, where he played an exaggerated version of himself in a kind of This is Sportscenter campaign come to caricatured life.
If you didn’t catch Mayne in his eponymous scripted program, you should. Once you’re done with the three-season, 30-or-so-episode show, then be sure to tune into Mayne’s eponymous unscripted program / new vehicle for his special brand of monotoned humor.
Kenny Mayne’s Wilder World of Sports is the latest branded original web series from ESPN. Sponsred by JC Penny’s Van Huesen clothing line for the athletics-oriented male, the program documents Mayne’s travels to exotic locales (including Ireland, England, Brazil, South Africa, New Zealand, and Thailand).
Each installment features a brief message from Mayne expounding the benefits of shopping at the 22nd largest chain of retail stores in the US before running highlighting of our sometimes sardonic but always approachable host playing the sports, and interacting with the sporting denizens of his destination of the week. That includes everything from stick fights in Zulu dress in South Africa, to meeting Brazilian soccer star Ronaldinho and evangelizing American football in Brazil, to playing Netball in New Zealand, and a lot of other things you did and didn’t know existed in between.
It’s great. Mayne’s attitude vacillates between sincere interest and irreverent nonchalance towards the individuals and athletics he encounters, but it’s all firmly grounded in what seems to be a sense of genuine appreciation and respect. Take that, throw in beautiful shots of exotic locations, thoughtfully summarized moving picture overviews of intriguing and non-traditional sports, and a healthy amount of expository voiceover told in Mayne’s particular brand of comedy, and it makes for some fantastic entertainment.
Watch a few installments of Wilder World of Sports and not only will you not mind the adverts for JC Penny, but you may even consider sporting a couple Van Heusen styles. If the store gets behind online video content of this quality, their clothes might be pretty great, too.