Jamie Hyneman: (from 50 yards away) Is he doing his David Attenborough thing again?
This is the rare wild Wildlife Commentary Spoof, in its natural habitat. What a fantastic opportunity to observe its natural behavior! Let's follow over its shoulder, camouflaged by our Adventurer Outfits in khaki — they'll blend in not only against the elephant and black-rhino tusks we're poaching, but also against Steve Irwin. Be careful to speak in the same volume level as golf commentary, so as not to disturb the "creature" being observed.
Let us further describe this species:
- Voice: Often, the "documentarian' will affect an accent of the wildlife adventurer or commentator of their choice. Popular English language examples are David Attenborough's soft, clipped British Accent ("Hee-re, in the Amazonian rainforest..."); the iconic Awesome Aussie Steve Irwin's easily recognizable Australian Accent ("Crikey! She's a beauty!"); Jacques Cousteau's famous French accent; and the voice of Morgan Freeman, due to the popularity of the March of the Penguins documentary.
- Content: The character being observed will often be given a fake "scientific name" in Dog Latin that usually sounds like some funny or insulting description of the person. ("Here we have the stupidus idius, the dumbest creature on the planet...") There may also be references to a character's "mating habits" or a "courting ritual" as a common joke, especially if this is what is prompting the spying in the first place. Sometimes the joke ends with a "tune in next week!" line, saying they will observe more behavior from the subject, or sometimes promising dangerous and crazy stunts with animals ("Tune in next week, where I'll crawl inside a tiger's mouth and tickle its stomach! For Science!!") or alluding to more observations of the "animal".
A Dead Horse Trope variation would have an elderly man commenting, "While Jim is wrestling the giant alligator [or some other deadly place we've just left Jim], I'd like to take a moment to talk to you about life insurance." This was based on the Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom series, popular in the 1960s and 1970s. (Marlin Perkins got too old to go out into the field and began doing commentary — and commercial breaks — from the studio, hence the comedy.)
- There are a set of Geico commercials where there's an 'animal adventure' guy imitating David Attenborough watches the Geico Gecko doing various everyday activities like filing papers and going to a cafe. He ducks behind bushes (and trash cans) as he does so, wearing full safari gear.
- Played with in a Finnish soda commercial. (See here.)
- In Hardcore Entertainment presents: Seven Does Voyager, Captain Janeway watches a video of Attenborough's distant ancestor giving a presentation on tribbles, in which he's buried under a pile of the Explosive Breeders before he can finish.
- This RWBY fancomic has Ruby observing Blake and Yang dancing together like bees communicating.
- Welcome to the Jungle does it Played for Drama, with an anonymous whistleblower filming various less-than-legal goings-on in Winslow High School and narrating in this style.
- Armageddon (1998): AJ does a Wildlife Commentary to animal crackers on his girlfriend's stomach in a faux British (maybe) accent.
- The infamous Bumfights series of shockumentaries had segments where a man did a Steve Irwin impression (dubbed "Steve Urban the Bum Hunter") as he attacked and harassed homeless people, describing them in the same terms in which Irwin described the dangerous animals he faced.
- In It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie (a Wonderful Life plot), the "Safari Animal Tracker" follows Fozzie Bear while narrating about the bear in his environment. And then tries to shoot him with a tranquilizer dart.
- The Mating Habits of the Earthbound Human in its entirety.
- In Gregory Maguire's novel Wicked, Elphaba gives running commentary on Boq's clumsy flirtation with Galinda as if they were wildlife.
- On MythBusters, Adam frequently describes Jamie as a "wild Hyneman in its natural environment." See most of the clips of this in this video.
- Jamie is well aware of this; in one episode, while Adam was in the middle of doing this (there's fifty feet or so between them, so he wouldn't necessarily hear exactly what Adam's talking about), he turned around and said "Is he doing his David Attenborough thing again?", causing Adam to bust up laughing.
- On the episode when the Build Team tests out the Sand Necktie myth:
Grant: Right, here we have a very rare sight—the Burrowing Belleci. He's almost formed his little burrow, and that'll be his home for the next five years.
- Adam also does a similar gag while guiding a big ballistics gel block through a swimming pool:
Adam: Now, the box jellyfish is one of the most lethal foes you'll encounter in your average swimming pool. They prefer temperatures between 79 and 82 degrees, and they give a nasty sting. If you see one, just swim in the other direction, and remember: he's just as afraid of you.
- Done in an early M*A*S*H episode, with Hawkeye describing an encounter between Frank and Margaret in this fashion:
"Observe the female of the species. Seemingly calm and detached, her tiny GI bosom is beating wildly, because she senses the presence of her frequent partner, the notorious red-necked nose-breather. Uh-oh, the signaling process has begun. Eyeballs are exchanged, and our khaki lovers do their famous 'Where'll we meet today?' ritual. It is almost impossible for the uninitiated to discern any connection between these two US Army majors. Yet, the trained observer will see that what these two officers have in mind is to arrange a bit of brass rubbing."
- There was an episode of Whose Line wherein Wayne made a crack about observing "the wild Canadian in his natural habitat". Steve Irwin is also one of Ryan's stock impressions.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Xander studies the other students.
"We shall mingle among them, learn their mating rituals and tag them before they migrate."
- In That '70s Show, they do one on Red and Kitty having sex. After Eric catches his parents having sex.
- On the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode "Overdrawn at the Memory Bank", Brain Guy attempts to study Bobo in this manner during a clip from the Public Pearl TV program "The Nature of Bobo". It doesn't end well for Brain Guy.
- Monty Python's Flying Circus had the "Life and Death Struggles" sketch in the episode "Blood, Devastation, Death, War, and Horror". The narrator (John Cleese) imitated at-that-time famous nature documentarian Heinz Sielmann (who also featured in the sketch engaged in a life-and-death-struggle with Peter Scott and Jaques Costeau).
- World's Dumbest... sometimes does this, especially Michael Loftus' "Quest for Dumbness."
- In a 2006 Late Night with Conan O'Brien episode, Conan sets a salt lick out in the studio to lure in celebrities so he can observe them in their natural environment, narrating their actions in a hushed voice. Sure enough, "a Jeff Goldblum" enters the studio to taste it — with body language more animal than human, and without saying a word. He goes on to, among other things, lick Conan's forehead and sniff his hair ("Don't want to agitate the Goldblum; they're very dangerous"), scrounge the guest chairs for awards, and woo a female of the species (Rachel Dratch) with such "preening" as an Anticipatory Breath Spray.
- The Australian version of Beauty and the Geek had one episode introduced by what they referred to as a "crappy Attenborough impersonation", including a Planet Earth establishing shot.
- A British talk show host about to interview David Attenborough saw fit to start with one of these as well.
"Tonight we interview a man...whose continued survival...has baffled commentators throughout the Western world."
- The Bloodhound Gang's song "The Bad Touch" begins with a sample that apparently came from a Discovery Channel documentary, referring to "the act of mating." (The song itself contains the chorus "Let's do it like they do on the Discovery Channel.")
- Plunderphonics artist Cassetteboy has a track based around this, where David Attenborough's narration from a real nature program is edited so it sounds like he's describing social interactions at a night club instead:
This small British male listens attentively to the pulsing rhythm. He shakes his body and rubs himself against the female. The female then leaves him. She is seeking a man with bigger muscles, and the male's sexual organ is no bigger than a grain of salt.
- David Attenborough himself does a Self-Parody in this intro to the music video for "Hello" by the 'Lesser Spotted Adele'.
- The Stupendium's "What a Fowl Day" opens what an Attenborough-style introduction of the horrible goose.
Here we see the common domestic goose - anser cygnoides domesticus. Found across the British countryside, it is known for its distinctive call, proud, majestic stature, and for being an all-round inconsiderate little git.
- Dogbert studies "Engineers In The Mist" in this Dilbert strip:
A small band of creatures were known to live high in an artificial structure. ... The dominant male had a gray back. He controlled the others by waving little envelopes.
- An early Over the Hedge strip has Verne documenting R.J. on camera. Yes, he's wildlife (in theory), but so is Verne.
- One episode of The News Quiz had Phil Jupitus imagining David Attenborough in a strip club: "The female is now displaying..."
- In Portugal, Herman José had a recurring skit where he channeled an English-speaking Attenborough ersatz with a Brazilian Portuguese voice-over usually as means to criticize behavior foibles: case in point. He did it one more time for the Eurovision Song Contest, but without the Brazilian Portuguese voice-over.
- In Germany, Bernhard Grzimek and to a lesser extent Heinz Sielmann were targets for parodies like that. Loriot did one on the former.
- This was the basis for the David Rabbit-burrow sketches on The Comedy Company, with David Rabbit-burrow commenting on aspects of ordinary Australian life as if they were some kind of exotic animal activity.
- Monty Python's Flying Circus had a fake documentary sequence in which an accented announcer narrated examples of "life-or-death struggles" between real animals, between Pantomime Animals (including a pantomime goose that preys on Terence Rattigan), and also a few humans:
"Here we see Heinz Sielmann engaged in a life-or-death struggle with Peter Scott. They are engaged in a bitter punch-up over repeat fees on the overseas sales of their nature documentaries. Now they have been joined by an enraged Jacques Cousteau. This is typical of the harsh and bitchy world of television features."
- MTV's The State had a man treat an office boss that way.
- In the (originally deleted) prison scene from The Adding Machine, a guide introduces a small crowd of tourists who have Come to Gawk at Mr. Zero eating his last meal (ham and eggs) in prison:
"This, ladies and gentlemen, is a very in-ter-est-in' specimen—the North American murderer, Genus homo sapiens, Habitat North America. This specimen, ladies and gentlemen, exhibits the characteristics which are typical of his kind. He has the opposable thumbs, the large cranial capacity, and the highly developed pre-frontal areas which distinguish him from all other species. He learns by imitation and has a language which is said by some eminent philologists to bear some striking resemblances to English. He thrives and breeds freely in captivity. This specimen was taken alive in his native haunts shortly after murdering his boss."
- Mr Puntila and His Man Matti: The Prologue, announces the imminent exhibition of a certain "primeval animal", "known for its gluttony and uselessness", its name being Estatium Possessor (estate owner).
- In RuneScape, the various dialogues when speaking with the Arctic Bear familiar have the animal observing the human in the style of Steve Irwin of Crocodile Hunter.
Arctic bear: Crikey! We're tracking ourselves a real live one here. I call 'em "Brighteyes".
Player: Will you stop stalking me like that?
Arctic bear: Look at that! Something's riled this one up good and proper.
Player: Who are you talking to anyway?
Arctic bear: Looks like I've been spotted.
Player: Did you think you didn't stand out here or something?
- A random encounter in Improbable Island has you fight David Attenborough after he does one of these on you, and inadvertently insults you while doing so.
- Leisure Suit Larry 1: In the Land of the Lounge Lizards has a brief bit of the "Wild Kingdom" type when you are changing channels to try to distract the pimp.
Not Marlon Perkins: And while my assistant is wrestling the tiger, I'm going to slip into this tent with our native guide and a pitcher of mai tais.
- Awesomenauts has the DLC of the Wildlife Announcer, a David Attenborough-esque narrator that portrays the fight as a nature documentary.
- Demon Street: This page has Sep narrating the scenery like a nature documentary, but sillier. According to The Rant, he's doing a David Attenborough impression.
Sep: Taking a look at some truly fascinating creatures, such as this moss... creeping along like gangbusters down there. Towards these—fossil toes stickin' out. What's the point of this? Science doesn't know. But we'll unravel this mystery... someday. But some of the most remarkable things of the forest are yet unrevealed— [His "camera" lands on Raina, who makes a face] And here's some sort of creature.
- Mac Hall has Steve Irwin himself run around after Drew saying things like "and here we observe the elusive comp Sci Major!"
- The Repository of Dangerous Things has an episode where with a right camera Curatorus Iratus was observed in her natural habitat, and <TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES>.
- Kevin & Kell had a Steve Irwin spoof. While animals were involved, the predator, at least, was civilized enough to use a cellphone.
- Piled Higher And Deeper, from strips #112 through #117, showed a documentary on the 'most mysterious, misunderstood creature of all: the grad student'.
- Curse Quest: The Owl Hunter talks directly to the reader as he explains he has been tracking the ulvorn owl-bear all day.
- Andrew Struthers' "Spiders On Drugs", in which we observe the effects of (illegal) drugs on spiders.
- Let's Player Cr1TiKaL has done something similar to this, making a few spoofs using commentary over videos of animals, usually speaking for the animal and talking about how they will take over the world, escape their human captors, asking humans for sex of sexual acts, or something else funny.
- The Dorkly Originals video, "If Mario Games Had Nature Documentaries", in which the narrator is repeatedly interrupted by Mario killing whatever she was filming.
"Here we see the Koopa Trooper in its natural habitat. The floating bricks are ideal for avoiding predators. This is a red variety, which explains why it is walking back and forth with no- Oh. A predator has gotten it after all. Moving on."
"Here we see a Goomba. It is mating season for the Goombas, as you can tell from the- Oh dear. They shan't be mating this season I suppose now, will they?"
"Under the sea we find a school of Cheep-cheep, who- Oh come on! He is underwater! How is he throwing fireballs?!"
- Epic Rap Battles of History did a battle between Steve Irwin and Jacques Cousteau where during his first verse, Steve described his opponent as if he were observing a dangerous and rare creature.
- The Internet Oracle: Question 899.10 asks if cows look at trains. The Oracle's reply is in the form of a documentary presented by Marlin Perkins, sponsored by Mutual of Omaha.
- During his review of the Canadian Police Force's 1988 Surviving Edged Weapons training PSA, JonTron employs this trope to poke fun at the way the narrator describes one of the common types of knife-wielding aggressors in a weirdly similar manner to a wildlife commentator.
Narrator: A third type of behavior usually occurs as a defensive reaction by an offender.
(A police officer investigates a briefcase in an alley, but in response is ambushed by a territorial vagabond wielding a razor, who waves it menacingly at the officer)
Narrator: The Taunting Jester. What he's telling you is, "Don't invade my space, or I'll attack you".
(Cut to the vagabond now edited onto wildlife footage in a savannah)
Jon: Soon after this grandiose display, he will retreat back to his den to tend to his newborn cubs, once again secure in his domain.
- PearlescentMoon has a knack for doing David Attenborough impressions in the Life SMP; outside of her debut season of Last Life, she's done one in every season she appears in.
- In Double Life, she briefly does this with on Day 4 while watching Grian and GoodTimesWithScar get hunted down by Red Names and Scar trading sand for his life and his horse back under her tower-base, though minus the fake and silly scientific names.
- In Limited Life, she does this again while watching a fight on the Skynet between the Clockers, the Mean Gills, and the T.I.E.S. factions in the latter half of Day 7.
Pearl: Arrows be flying and people are turning into porcupines. I did not realize this was an animal documentary. Yet somehow, an arrow was flung my way. Do I get to pick that up? (reverting to her normal voice) I mean, sure! Keep at them! I want more arrows! Give them to me! The more I get to shoot you off with them!
- Ozzy Man Reviews: Ozzy Man dubs videos of various things (not just nature) in a Steve Irwin-esque accent but with wayyy more cursing. Available on Facebook and YouTube. His top choice is a good animal fight, often with an underdog or a surprisingly cheeky bastard. Other popular videos are about animal attacks, mating behaviour or videos with heartwarming or funny footage (parenting, animals helping each other, confused penguins, and so on). Concrete examples would be "Black Cat & Big Fuck Off Rat" or "Mongoose vs. Lion". Commentaries of people often have this angle as well because of the way Ozzy Man refers to men and women: The humans, this mammal, a sheila or that wanker.
- One of the bonuses in the Red vs. Blue DVD is a movie spoof that has Sarge doing this to Grif (framed as a hunting show, naturally).
- Smosh had two videos made of this trope, namely TEENS IN THE WILD! and GIRLFRIENDS IN THE WILD where Ian would play "wildlife expert" George Zazz and adopt a hilariously forced Australian accent (that would drop from time to time) while he observed people (including his own son and girlfriend) and giving each one he'd look at a supposed scientific name.
- The Sonic the Hedgehog YouTube channel posted a short video called "Blue Hedgehog Documentary: Hunter & Prey". It portrays Sonic attacking Eggman as "hunting prey".
- The Templin Institute does a rare non-comedic version. While the show's first narrator Larissa Thompson used a firm, flat Canadian accent that would feel at home in a Military Science Fiction story, their second narrator Stephen Trafford speaks with a British accent that evokes Attenborough in how he describes the fictional, fantastical sci-fi and fantasy worlds that the show covers.
- Animaniacs (2020): The third season's "Planet Warner" goes over a typical day on the Warner movie lot, with every character speaking in symbolic barks and squeals and a David Attenborough-like voice narrating the scenes. The creative crew's attempt to pitch a new character is treated like a fragile newborn trying to survive the wild, only to be cruelly shut down and abandoned by the executives when the pitch fails. Meanwhile, the Warners go "hunting" for some burritos and evading Ralph like a predator evades prey (including a Painted Tunnel, Real Train gag as a form of "camouflage").
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In the episode "Feeling Pinkie Keen". Twilight Sparkle does this while spying on Pinkie Pie and trying to disprove that her random ability (called Pinkie Sense) exists. She even gives Pinkie Pie the "scientific name" Pinkius piecus and wears a safari bucket hat.
- In a variant, Celebrity Deathmatch had Steve Irwin spend his time in the ring doing a running naturalists' commentary on the Medusa he was supposed to be fighting.
- Several Road Runner cartoons would freeze an early appearance of the roadrunner and the coyote with a faux scientific name and short description.
- In a The Simpsons short Bart does Jacques Cousteau in "the Undersea World of Bart Simpseau" during an Imagine Spot while taking a bath.
- Dexter's Laboratory:
- The show did an entire half-episode in this style, with an unseen and unexplained narrator referring to Dexter as "Blackfoot" (because of his boots) and Dee Dee as "Slim" (for obvious reasons), and treating the wholly domestic setting as though it were deep wilderness.
- There's also the episode "A Tribe Called Girl", where Dexter decided to study "girls" in their natural habitat by watching Dee Dee and her friends having a slumber party.
- The Ren & Stimpy Show episode "Untamed Wild" was a spoof of nature shows, with Ren as the host. At the end, a creature named the Frilled Ren (all the animals were based on either Ren or Stimpy) uses its necksack to attract other nature show hosts.
- The Taz-Mania episode "Mishap in the Mist'' had a naturalist ("Jane Allgood") follow Taz (or "Bright Eyes" as she calls him) and his family around, with the others trying to ignore the strange lady spying on them.
- The Wild Thornberrys: Nigel Thornberry actually does Nature Documentaries as his job, so he does this from time to time, however on one occasion, back in England during a meeting he gets bored and decides to do one based on his daughter Debbie's actions of the episode.
- Family Guy has done this on two separate Cutaway Gags.
Peter Griffin: Good thing I just watched that National Geographic special on fire trucks.Commentator: A solitary killer, the fire truck stalks its prey. (The fire truck pounces on an antelope and beats it down with its ladder, then starts eating it.) The fire truck can consume eight times its body weight. (Several ambulances try to converge on the fire truck and its prey, but the fire truck honks them away.) The ambulances will have to wait their turn.
- Another cutaway spoofed this with a group of Jewish men "flying away from danger" in the midst of a confrontation between a Black woman and an Italian-American man in front of a pizzeria.
- Cartman does this in the "Prehistoric Ice Man" episode of South Park.
- The French-sounding narrator on Spongebob Squarepants often comments on the characters as a real nature documetarian would, especially in the first episode. "My Pretty Seahorse" began with the narrator describing how characters get ready for spring, such as Patrick "shedding his winter coat" (a sweater) and "storing it away for winter" (burying it in sand).
- An entire episode of My Gym Partner's a Monkey was about this. After a string of bad luck leaves Adam hideously deformed, the host of a wildlife documentary mistakes him for an undiscovered species and begins "studying" him.
- An episode of Mike, Lu & Og has a "nature chaser" arrive on the island examining the natives' actions.
- The Amazing World of Gumball:
Richard: Son, when a new mother enters the pride, she test the boundaries of the matriarch's dominance.
- On skit in "The Tape" has the title character record his father fight like an animal to eat the groceries his mother brought in while his sister stole some herself, complete with Binomium ridiculus names.
- In "The Egg", Richard describes Felicity and Nicole's fight as if they're wild animals, then we cut to slow-motion footage of them headbutting each other around like hippos.
Felicity: (offscreen) Ew.
Gumball: What is that?
Richard: Oh, that's just territorial scent marking.
Gumball: So what do we do?
Richard: Just stand back and witness how beautiful and scary nature can be.
- We Bare Bears: "Planet Bears" is a parody of Planet Earth where a narrator provides commentary when the bears take a trip to the grocery store.
- Tuca & Bertie: Done twice in "The Deli Guy", both times with a human character doing literal Naughty Birdwatching on Bertie and Speckle as they flirt.
- LEGO City Adventures: The episode "Fendrich in the Wild" has an actual nature documentary crew following around local corrupt businessman R.E. Fendrich as if he were a wild animal. A later episode shows the host is eccentric and somewhat looked down upon within the field, but he's ultimately vindicated in his crazy assertions, so it isn't clear whether he considers Fendrich an animal or not.
- Work It Out Wombats!: In "A Super Recipe," after losing the cookbook, the wombats decide to observe the cornbread they already have to figure out how to make it. Zadie provides documentary-like commentary.
Zadie: Today, we are observing cornbread, deep in its natural habitat, the kitchen.
- Jay Leno did this behind the scenes while visiting Top Gear. He spoofed the clutter and filth in the Top Gear offices, especially an abandoned filthy plate and fork.
- David Attenborough himself did this at the 2014 Winter Olympics, when he used his opening monologue to describe a women's curling match between the US and UK teams as if it was an event in nature, calling the curling stones walnuts, the target a nest that the teams are trying to get the walnut into, and the lead as "the alpha female [who] displays her dominance over the herd by tapping the end of the frisking broom to check for rogue insects."