Last Sunday, comedian John Oliver lambasted the upsurge in online harassment on his HBO series Last Week Tonight, but in doing so he unearthed a bit of cyber history centered around–you guessed it–kayakers. The segment started with a throwback to an actual 1995 AOL commercial (at :40) that has an early computer user explaining the wonders of the Internet, which he’s using to “live chat” with his “new kayaking friends.”
Oliver claims that referencing “kayaking friends” is way too specific and must be a euphemism of some kind. Obviously you’re not a paddler, John. The phrase does sound suspicious, but only because it’s not specific enough. It would have been more believable if the 1990s AOL user had been reading reviews of the new Dagger RPM playboat or debating Euro- vs. Greenland-style sea kayaking.
Check out the whole segment above. Or skip to 14:40 to watch Last Week Tonight‘s revamped, NSFW version of the ad that takes into account how the Internet has become “a dark carnival of humanity’s most wretched impulses.” That and a place to read about kayaking.