Unfortunately today, I had to interview Jon & Al. Not because I don't like them, but because I had them picked to win The Amazing Race, and then fog got in the way. Here's what the clowns had to say (two weeks early, in my opinion):
It looked close last night, so how close was the elimination really?
Al: About 30 minutes.
Jon: We made up a lot of time. We were about an hour and 40 minutes behind, and we made up an hour, that's how hard we were racing that leg.
Jon, you were the only team member of the last 5 or 6 teams who had a spouse and children back home, and it looked like it really started to weigh on you. How do you think that effected you mentally during the race?
Jon: I'm with my kids 24 hours a day, 7 days a week because they travel with me in the circus. So I'm never away from them for more than a day or two. So, leaving them for the entire length of the race was very difficult. It did weigh on me, but my kids and my wife were my inspiration, and that's what drove me to push so hard, and never give up, and always do it with a positive attitude. I think it made me stronger.
You were probably the team most aware of not being "ugly Americans". Was that a planned strategy, or just a result of your dealing with the public regularly?
Jon: I think it was dealing with the public, and working with people from different cultures.
Al: We never tried to plan anything or pretend we were something that we weren't. Almost everything you see on the show is genuine Jon & Al. That's just the way we are, dealing with different cultures in the circus, because we travel with so many nationalities. You respect them, and when you're in their country, you respect their country and try to speak their language. Maybe it's just a natural thing for us.
Whose idea was the clown-nose thing?
Jon: I think both of ours. We talked about it a little bit, using the clown nose and wearing the clown shoes, and fun stuff like that. But after the start of the race, we said "you know what, we'll just stick with the nose."
Al: Clown shoes are very heavy, and we were going to wear them during the whole race. But we decided that wasn't a good idea.
You left your Fast Forward un-used. Did you discuss using it at any point?
Jon: No, we never really considered using the Fast Forward, as long as we were competitive and doing well on the race. We never would have thought of taking the FF. We always knew it was there, and we saved it, until we really needed it. At this point, we knew that there were two other teams that had a chance to use their FF.
What was your favorite destination?
Jon: Malaysia was nice.
Al: We definitely loved Malaysia, with the mountains and the scenery, and we would have loved to spend more time there. We'll definitely go back. Australia was great too, the people were so friendly and nice, it was great.
Since it was fog that ultimately did you in, how much do you believe luck plays into the race?
Jon: A LOT! A lot more than you think.
Al: There are a lot of things in the race that you can't control that have bearing on how you compete in the race. But I think that's something that's so cool about The Amazing Race is that you can't control things - the world is your game board, and you can't control the world, or the weather, or flights, or traffic. It definitely had a big bearing on what place you're going to come in.
Jon, what's the heaviest object you've balanced on your nose or chin?
Jon: I've balanced a 16 foot A-Frame ladder.
Al, describe what you were feeling doing the face-first rappel in Australia.
Al: Oh man, I'm definitely afraid of heights, and when Jon said we were doing the face-first, I just had to suck it up and do what I had to do, because I knew that we had to catch up on some time. At first, I was like "how the heck am I going to get this done?" When Jon was going down, I was just thinking, thinking, but then I thought "I'm just gonna do it." Then when I sat on the edge of the building, I swear my heart was in my throat, I said "just go for it, lean forward and walk like you've never walked before." I knew that it was part of the race, and in order for us to compete, I just had to do it. It was scary, but I accomplished it, and I'm still alive.
What was the biggest obstacle you encountered during the race?
Jon: Probably Korea, with the language and the transportation was the biggest obstacle. We should have done a little more homework and found out the best way to get around in Korea was the rail system.
Al: Definitely, communicating was so difficult there. Trying to explain what we needed to do, we had a lot of trouble with the taxi driver, just because of the communication gap and the language barrier, but it hurt us on both legs of the race.
How did you prepare for the race?
Jon: To be honest, we didn't prepare at all.
Al: We talked about preparing, we had all these great ideas of what we wanted to do, but before we knew it, it was time to go. So we said "oh well, let's just go for it, and have some fun, and do the best that we can do." Basically, that was it.
Jon: We never prepared. I mean, we'd seen the show before and loved it, and the chance to be on it was great. But the other teams were much more well-informed on how exactly the race was run.
Al: The other teams had seen all of the previous TAR seasons, and because we travel so much, we didn't get to watch it and follow it.
Jon: We only saw about half of the third season, in the middle. The other teams knew the race inside and out, what to do and how to do it.
If you could give a piece of advice to the next set of teams, what would that be?
Jon: Try to have a sense of humor. We know it's a stressful time for them, but just try to enjoy it. We know they're racing for the million, but try to enjoy themselves.
Al: Just remember to go in there, be competitive, but think about it: you're traveling around the world. Take a minute to see where you are, enjoy where you are. And you have to have a sense of humor. Enjoy what you're doing, don't stress out as much. Yeah, it's a stressful situation, but screaming and yelling and cursing at people, it's not gonna help you any. So just enjoy what you're doing and do the best you can. That's all you can ask for.
Jon: It doesn't help to be into the arguing and being aggressive. It's not really going to help your situation.
One last question - how many clowns can you fit into a Ford Pinto?
Al: I think we fit 25 into a Volkwagen, but I think we might be able to fit a couple more because of the gas tank. We honestly did, we did a Classic Clowning thing, and we really fit 25 clowns into a Volkswagen Bug.
Thanks, guys. I just wanted to pass along all of our members' well wishes and thanks for running a great race with a great attitude.
Jon: Thanks, all of the feedback we've gotten from everyone has been great.
Al: Tell everyone that we're going to have our website up after the race, and jonandalracers.com - they can find out what we're doing, and we'll share some pictures and other information about the race.
Thanks again to Jon and Al for taking the time to speak with us today, and to CBS for coordinating things each week. For those wondering, we were not able to pin down a Millie and Chuck interview due to my family emergency (everything's fine, thanks for all the feedback). Comments on this interview can be sent to me at firstname.lastname@example.org