Originally posted Tuesday, February 11, 2020 by RODNEY HOemail@example.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog
Sometimes taking two seemingly disparate actions and mixing them together creates magic. Just ask Sean Evans.
For four years, over 175 episodes, Evans on YouTube has drawn hundreds of millions of views on a show called “Hot Ones” where celebrities answer his probing questions while eating hot wings with spicier and spicier sauce.
Season two’s Key & Peele episode broke it big for the creators and has compiled 14 million views.. Everyone from Gordon Ramsay (53 million) to Billie Eilish (31 million) to James Franco (9.7 million) to Kevin Hart (24 million) to Shaq (19.7 million) have participated. Seth Rogan, Nick Kroll and Dax Shepard would smack talk each other over their “Hot Ones” exploits on Twitter, only fueling the show’s popularity.
Season 11 of “Hot Ones” debuted last week with actress Margot Robbie, which has already drawn more than 6.8 million viewers.
Now Eva hasns gone the traditional TV route with truTV’s new game show “Hot Ones” which dispenses with celebrities and opts for regular folks trying to win up to $25,000 by answer trivia questions while ingesting scorching hot wings. It debuts Feb. 18 at 10 p.m.
The questions are pop culture heavy and not anything that would stress out Ken Jennings. Sample question: “What’s the best-selling Pez candy dispenser: the Easter Bunny, Santa or the Great Pumpkin?” (Answer: Santa, of course.)
Evans taped 20 episodes over 10 days late last year at Ted Turner Studios in Midtown Atlanta.
“We do our interview show in an intimate, dark room,” Evans said after taping the 18th episode of the game show. “This is the complete opposite. It feels like the contestants are gladiators entering a colosseum.” (The set is called the “Pepper Dome.” The final challenge is dubbed the “Ring of Fire” and features actual fire.)
He said he’s been amazed by the ardor of the audience members, most of whom are “Hot Ones” YouTube acolytes.
“It’s like performing a concert for ‘Hot Ones’ fans,” Evans said.
During a taping last December, one suffering contestant literally said, “I’m having a bit of an existential crisis right now!”
But two female weightlifters handled the wing burn with aplomb.
“We don’t care about pain,” said one of the lifters.
It’s the only game show that features spit buckets for folks who get sick.
“We use them almost daily,” Evans said.
The game show has a team of medics on hand - just in case.
“These folks are eating the hottest meal of their life on a TV show surrounded by hundreds of people,” Evans said.
Christopher Schonberger - not Evans - actually came up with the concept. He said it was inspired by his dad, who loved to buy novelty hot sauces and secretly serve them to friends, then laugh uproariously.
So he and his friend Evans, a journalist, combined forces for what is now a viable brand concept: creating a “disruptive” force in the form of hot wings wrapped around a serious interview that could go off the rails worked perfectly on the Web. And fans are now experts in the “Scoville scale,” a measurement of spiciness that can run in the millions.
Schonberger said the show even has cross-generational appeal: “We have college kids, Reddit kids, fathers and sons, daughters and moms. It brings families closer together!”
“Hot Ones: The Game Show,” 10 p.m. Mondays, starting Feb. 18, 2020 on truTV
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