Marketing

Pop Quiz: Name a New TV Trend? Right Answer: Comedy Quiz Show

12/12/2011 12:01 AM Eastern

In the tradition of “three makes a trend,”
The Wire has spotted a new one in cable programming:
comedy quiz shows.

BBC America has doubled down on a variation of the
genre — the comedy panel show — with Would You Rather…?
With Graham Norton
(which started Dec. 3) and an
upcoming video adaptation of NPR’s Wait Wait … Don’t Tell
Me
. The Wait Wait year-end special airs Dec. 23 at 8 p.m.

“Interestingly, this game dates back to the Victorian era,
when people played it at fancy parties and went home
and brushed their teeth with sticks,” Norton says in introducing
the first Would You Rather episode.

Celebrities on a panel face absurd choices and try to
give funny answers. At a taping The Wire attended in
New York in late September, comedian Sherrod Smith
chimed in first when Norton asked: “Would you rather
everything you said for the rest of your life be the absolute
truth or an absolute lie?”

“I would go with absolute truth because the first half
of my life was an absolute lie,” he said. When the audience
groans, he complained, “What is this, the Ricki Lake
show?”

Asked if he’d rather his mother or father got a
sex change, actor Stanley Tucci picked his mother,
figuring she would make “quite a handsome looking
man.”

WYR, the first of BBC America’s new made-in-the-
USA originals, airs
at 11 p.m. Saturdays,
after Norton’s iconic
U.K.-based interview
show.

No. 3 in the trend
triad is Fuse’s “music
and pop culture trivia
game show” Funny
or Die’s Billy Eichner
on the Street
. The
brash comic prowls
the sidewalks of New
York, asking strangers,
for example, “true
or false” to a list of
names of women who
may have had sex with
John Mayer.

(Jessica Simpson,
true; Pink, false.)

He jumps up and down when someone wins, but
brushes some folks off with a loud “get out of here!” At a
screening last week, Eichner told The Wire some people
give his cameraman a shove, but they never take it out
on him: “I’m down the street by then.”

Fuse GM David Clark joked he was shocked that “maybe
one out of 10” contestants decline to sign the release form,
but most people know it’s just shtick. “It’s relatively gentle,”
he said.

Random New Yorkers often get off the best lines. Asked,
for $1, if Courtney Love just keeps getting better and better,
one guy deadpanned, “She couldn’t get any worse.”

Billy Eichner on the Street airs at 11 p.m. on Thursdays,
debuting Dec. 22.

Chuck Wepner Fans
Enjoy Face Time
At HBO Fight Party

HBO Sports packed plenty of celebrity punch at
Madison Square Garden for the Dec. 3 pre-party
leading up to the Miguel Cotto-Antonio Margarito
pay-per-view boxing event.

Actors Jon Seda (The Pacific), Eddie Kaye Thomas
(How to Make It in America), Tony Sirico (The Sopranos),
Michael Pitt (Boardwalk Empire), actress
Naomi Watts and pugilist Jean Pascal assembled
at the Garden’s Club Bar & Grill prior to heading up
the stairs to a sold-out, frenzied arena, where Cotto
avenged his 2009 loss to Margarito with a 10thround
TKO.

Chuck Wepner, the former heavyweight boxer
who took on Sonny Liston and Muhammad Ali
and starred in the October ESPN documentary,
was a notable scene maker .

Also on hand at the pre-party was actor and
HBO Sports narrator Liev Schreiber, who just last
week signed on to star in the title role of a new
Showtime pilot titled Ray Donovan. The series — in
which Schreiber plays a Hollywood “fixer” — will
not affect the actor’s relationship with HBO, where
he recently re-upped to serve as the voice of reality
series 24/7 and Hard Knocks, HBO officials
said.

COX’S MEN OF MOVEMBER

Twenty-six staffers in Cox Communications’ corporate
finance department in Atlanta proudly wore
moustaches for “Movember,” the campaign to raise
men’s health awareness, especially with regard to
prostate health. They raised $2,455 and vied for
best moustache. Andrew Waddell, senior manager
of financial analysis (l.), was judged winner on creativity
and presentation. Chris Hannah, director of
business operations analysis (r.), won on points
overall, sealing the victory with what he called his
“ ’70s cop” attire.

September