(Oh Sit! premieres Wednesday night at 8pm on The CW)
Seriously fit guys puking, seriously fit girls puking, 38 degree ice water, comedy, concussions, Spandex, LIVE musical performances, a moat, big money, bridges that don’t want people on them, obstacles that are a real biyatch, an island, a mountain and fine … there will be chairs.
When I first read that there was going to be a show about extreme musical chairs, I remember thinking … you have got to be kidding me. Naturally, some months later, I ended up writing on that show. Because when there’s a show in need of a comedy writer and that show has a moat, my response is always the same … “Again?” And then my second response is always … “You have got to be kidding me. I am so in.” And I will tell you, no other show I’ve worked on has surprised me as much this one has. In each episode twelve new contestants compete to see who will be the last one sitting. And at the end of the night, whoever gets that last chair, takes home all the money that they’ve banked trying to get there. Sound simple? It’s so cute that you think it does. You’re adorable.
The guys and girls who compete are crazy in shape. Or maybe, crazy and in shape. You be the judge. I don’t judge people. I live in a world where everyone is perfect and I’m entirely at peace. If you spent just five minutes inside my head, it would probably feel like a mixture of The Dali Lama, your favorite candle and Drew Barrymore. The guys and girls that compete range in age from 18-45 and they definitely do not blow off their Crunch gym membership for two months like I do when I work on a show that has long hours, knee pads and a moat. Many of them run marathons, half-marathons (which, to me, have always been the cutest marathons), tri-athalons (very show off-y, in my opinion), some of them have even done the Iron Man/Woman competitions (seems a bit much-ish to me). A lot of them are very into extreme sports and some are less hardcore and just think they have what it takes. Watching twelve energetic, pumped, confident contestants get crushed by musical chairs is quite a thing. For legal reasons – I should tell you that no chairs crushed people during the making of this show. However, what chairs do to people on their own time, is entirely up to them. These racers battle each other and the course to try to stay in the game and it’s not only fun, but it’s insanely exciting.
And, when I think insanely exciting, nine times out of ten, I think – Jamie Kennedy,Jessi Cruickshank and Tanika Ray. If you’re wondering what I think of that tenth time, it’d be this girl I once dated who I had no business dating because she was likely pathological, but a lot of fun. On Oh Sit! Tanika is trackside with the racers and Jamie and Jessi sit above the action not only calling the races, but calling out the contestants and each other. This show is in on the joke. Probably because this competition is no joke. Or, maybe because The CW loves jokes. Either way, I know I want to watch a show where the contestants are a total trip and these are. For example, one contestant describes himself as a mixture of Jim Carrey, Liza Minelli and Denzel Washington. Another is a tour guide at a Ben & Jerry’s factory, yet another one is a fourty-four year old mom and there’s even a contestant whose dad was an American Gladiator. The action is non-stop and people get hardcore. So again, when I think insanely exciting and now also, hardcore, I keep on thinking – Jamie Kennedy, Jessi Cruickshank and Tanika Ray. So, I wrangled these maniacs up to ask them about hosting season one of Oh Sit!
JILL: Jessi, Jamie, a lot of times when two talented people work together for really long hours on set, they end up falling in love. With a writer. Did that happen with either of you with me?
JESSI: You’re a writer? I thought you were an intern! That’s why I kept asking you to rub my feet with baby oil. God, this is awkward.
JAMIE: Look, I fall in love with a lot of lesbians and a lot of Jews. I have an intimate connection with both peoples. So, obviously there were a lot of sparks flying back and forth.
JILL: When asked to host Oh Sit!, what were your first thoughts?
JAMIE: Thought, singular. What the hell is this?
JESSI: Oh, shit.
JILL: Once you actually started shooting the show, how did those initial thoughts change?
KENNEDY: Well, I initially thought the whole thing was an elaborate prank to get back at me for my hidden-camera shows. Like everyone I X’ed got together to get their revenge on me. Then I realized the set was way too intricate and expensive to get that together. But seriously, when we started rehearsing and shooting, we started to see this awesome show unfold. It’s got the format of those Japanese game shows like Ninja Warrior, the tone and humor of fun American competition shows and of course, the awesome hook of being musical chairs on HGH.
JESSI: Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a television show based on musical chairs, but it’s funny, exciting, violent, arousing, action-packed… and I’m just describing my hosting skills. The rest of the show is even better!
JILL: Jessi, you’re from Canada. What’s that?
JESSI: It’s a magical far off land with gun control, universal health care and married people who are gay!!!
JAMIE: So, like Bizarro America.
JILL: You’re actually quite a big deal in Canada, Jessi. (MTV Live, The Hills: Live After Show, E! Canada, Etalk ) Is it fun or difficult to do your first big show in The United States of America (god bless us)?
JESSI: Yes, God bless America indeed for allowing this redheaded person on your airwaves. It’s exciting/terrifying. Fortunately, I have spent hours practicing my ‘abouts’ (which I now pronounce ‘abaaawt’) and eliminating my ‘eh’s’, in hopes of disguising myself as just your average American TV host, with better diction and smaller breasts.
JAMIE: Whoa, don’t say that. Your diction isn’t better.
JILL: Jamie, everyone knows you. (Scream, Malibu’s Most Wanted, Ghost Whisperer, Heckler) That’s gotta be better than being from Canada. Really though, you work all the time in all kinds of different genres, but I get the feeling that Oh Sit! was probably a first for you. Can you talk about that? Or, are you one of those actor/comedians who can’t talk about process because you don’t want us to truly ever know you?
JAMIE: Lotta firsts for me on this show. First musical chairs game show. First ginger co-host. First Canadian co-host. First time I was given the direction to “sell the drama of Chair Mountain.” But really, the show lends itself to both the comedy and drama so easily, so it’s not really an intense “process.” And I’m a man who really loves a good process.
JESSI: Editors note: can you add Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet to that list please!?!? Back in my pre-pubescence I used to watch Jamie in that movie over and over. Mostly on fast forward to get to the Leo shirtless parts, but from what I can remember he was fantastic.
JILL: Tanika (For The Love of Ray, CW Now, Extra) co-hosts with you guys. She’s in the trenches, right up in there with contestants, while you two are up in a cozy sky box in fancy ball-like clothing. Why is that? Are you two scared? Allergic to water?
JESSI: No, we’re just extremely high maintenance. It’s easier to throw hot coffee at assistants when you’re not gonna get it all over the obstacle course, you know? Less clean up.
JAMIE: I’m allergic to Tanika’s sass. And sort of scared of her, actually. She could, for sure, beat up me and Jessi at the same time and her hair would still look great doing it.
TANIKA: Yeah, he’s right. My hair would still be amazeballs!!!
JILL: Is it true that Jamie once had to break up a full-on girl fight between Jessi and Tanika over lipgloss?
JESSI: It was actually over wigs. I was pissed that Tanika kept wearing mine.
TANIKA: I kept telling her a big ginger fro wasn’t a good look. Just google ‘Carrot Top!’
KENNEDY: Oh, yeah. That happened. That was a high point for me. Very good day. It’s something I still have stored in my brain. I’m saving it for a rainy day.
JILL: Tanika (who is always traveling, interviewing Mary J. Blige and god knows who else and generally just having really good hair), aside from having awesome outfits and energy, what was your favorite part of Oh Sit!?
TANIKA: The hyper stimulation of being smack dab in the middle of the Oh Sit! “Circus”- which felt like a modern day coliseum filled with Spandex-clad gladiators, had me buzzing for days!!!
JESSI: My favorite part was when Tanika wore nude-colored pants on the show and subsequently appeared bottomless the entire episode. Fantastic for ratings.
JAMIE: I was gonna say the raw energy and enthusiasm, but now that I think about it, I’m gonna have to go with Tanika’s nudey pants.
JILL: Tanika, you’re trackside talking to the contestants all night. Without giving too much detail away, was there ever a time when a contestant made you nervous?
TANIKA: Hell to the yes..I’m not sure how in-depth those background checks were, but we definitely had a couple contestants who were circling the douche drain!! Let’s just say the guys with fragile egos were a ‘lil scary to interview up close and personal after being beat by a girl!!
JAMIE: At first you look at the guy contestants and you think they’re super dorky because of how they’re dressed and the fact that they’re on a musical chairs show. But you get a closer look at them and see their bios and realize they’re bad-ass. They’re fitness freaks, military veterans – some of them are scary individuals. I made a joke about one guy that got disqualified and it did not go over well. He walked past me between races and threatened me a little. It was kind of scary but I kind of liked it. Is that weird that I liked it?
JESSI: There was a time where Jamie and I gave one very aggressive contestant such a hard time we were actually worried he might key our cars on the way out. Jamie drives a custom Bentley, I drive a Prius, so naturally Jamie was a little more concerned, but still.
JILL: I walk to work. Since I give people a hard time on a regular basis, it just seems safest. Thank you so much for talking to me, you guys. We’re all really psyched about the show and the three of you are the best hosts in all of mankind and non-mankind. Is there anything any of you would like to add? About Oh Sit! Or, about very, very personal stuff? Please answer below while I get back to work here at the Oh Sit! office. Aka, flirting excessively with Jessi until she reports me to HR.
JAMIE: I love watching you guys flirt. I’m jealous. I’m not sure of who.
JESSI: Yes, watch this show. Because it’s exciting, it’s hilarious, it’s something to talk about with your co-workers, your spouse, your therapist. Also, please get your hand off my thigh, Jill. This would never happen in Canada.
TANIKA: Sit no!!!
* Note: This piece was written solely by Jill Kushner (and only a little bit by Jane Austen). The opinions of the executive producers of Oh Sit! (and of executive producers in general) and of The CW (and of all networks since the beginning of time) and of Warner Horizon (and of all studios and record studios and studio apartments) are not reflected in this article. However, I do keep a piece of tagboard above my bed with all of those people’s opinions. I’m a terrible sleeper. Love, Jill
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Photo credit: Scott Humbert and The CW