Jonathan Torrens Still Talkin' TV
by Annette Bourdeau, posted Jun 14th 2010 12:38PM
Canadian funnyman Jonathan Torrens, known for his 90s show 'Jonovision' and his white-trash stint on 'Trailer Park Boys', is keeping very busy these days. On top of rolling out 26 new episodes for Season 2 of his talk/sketch show 'TV With TV's Jonathan Torrens', he's also going to be co-hosting 'Wipeout Canada,' which is slated to debut in 2011.
TV Squad caught up with him to talk about all things TV - from 'Jersey Shore' to Mario Lopez to why everyone loves 'Wipeout'.
I know that Season 2 of 'TV With TV's Jonathan Torrens' includes episodes on daytime talk shows and freaks. What other genres will you be tackling?
In Season 1, the genres were more clearly defined, in a way. But the thing that we found in doing the research for Season 2 is that especially in the world of reality, things are evolving so quickly that we thought, "OK, we'll do celeb reality." But we're at a point in our industry where celeb reality is too broad. You've got the Kardashians, you've got your celebrity-with-a-problem kind of shows like 'Sober House', you've got celebrities competing in something, like 'I'm a Celebrity, Get Me out of Here'. We ended up doing what we call fame-ilies. Like 'Keeping Up With the Kardashians' and 'Gene Simmons Family Jewels'.
In addition to mystery shows and late-night talk shows, we also invented some categories for comedic opportunities. Like non-traditional families. Like parents with an orphan, kids raising themselves, like 'Party of Five', crazy kooky uncles raising the kids like on 'Full House'.
Are you going to be looking at Mario Lopez this season?
Yes! In fact, not to give too much away, but the finale of this season is from the Brown Carpet of the First Annual Lopezies. It's our awards show for the best in the worst of TV. And the trophy is a gold Pez dispenser with a head like Mario Lopez.
Wow. Custom-made, I'm guessing?
Yes. We looked on eBay and Kijiji. But go figure, it doesn't exist. I would like to say that I have broadened my targets a bit this year. For some reason I have a jag on for Brad Garrett from whatever that show was.
That seems fair.
It does indeed. And Bonaduce is now an action verb, as in go Bonaduce on someone.
Who do you think you hate the most?
I think in fairness my venom directed at Mario Lopez was borne out of the fact that at one point in the past couple of years I think he was on five different shows. I think there's an extraordinary amount of wackness with the ratio of talent to exposure. I understand people slip through the quality colander from time to time, otherwise we wouldn't have 'Ghost Whisperer'. But I just think the fact that he's on five shows at once is a bit much. But I don't hate him. I don't hate!
What's the craziest thing anyone's ever said or done during one of the streeters for your show?
For our action shows episode, I invited people on the streets of Toronto to take a swing at my face, stunt-man style. So that ought to make a montage. Had I advertised it beforehand we probably would have had a huge line-up of people. Maybe with Mario Lopez at the front of it.
Do you look at 'Jersey Shore' in Season 2?
We do have a couple of passing references to 'Jersey Shore', mostly in joke lines. I am proud and devastated to say that Mike "The Situation" is coming to Halifax to dry hump anyone who's willing to pay $18. I have a surprisingly high tolerance for shows like that. I watched 'Jersey Shore', big-time. As much to try to understand it as because I enjoyed it.
Speaking of shows that not everyone gets, I don't get 'Wipeout'. What's the appeal? Why do people like watching people get hurt?
I guess one of the appeals of television, period, is that from the comfort and safety and security of our own couch, we get to say, "I could have done better!" Hopefully the appeal of 'Wipeout Canada' will be seeing people from your own backyard competing. And also the $50,000 per episode prize, which as far as Canadian game show standards goes, is a pretty legit prize. Would I do the course? No. I've been working out in the mental gym, trying to arm myself with possible mental quips.
Are you going to be testing out some catchphrases, hoping one will stick?
I don't know if it's coming from a good place if you're trying to imagine something coming out of your mouth on a t-shirt. And I don't know if any phrases the American guys have come up with have entered the public lexicon. I was trying to get LQTM to take off. Laugh Quietly to Myself, instead of LOL. Because I think people use LOL at points where you wouldn't LOL. With 'Wipeout', the course has challenges like the big balls, for example. I think the challenge with be to look beyond the big balls and come up with some more clever analysis.
Are there any TV personalities who inspire you?
I think Joel McHale is really funny. I auditioned for 'The Soup' when it was being cast in LA. I think my jokes were too mean. I think he can say things with a smile on his face and kind of an impish grin and get away with it. He has more of an 'aww schucks' factor. He may be more likeable than I am. I really like watching that. Obviously Stephen Colbert is a genius. I really dig sketch performers, like 'The Mighty Boosh'. Even though it's far-fetched, all of the characters are grounded in truth. I think that's what I respond to. That's why I found 'Lost' Season 1 intoxicating. I was like "Wow, there are all of these normal people in a strange predicament!" And then when there were things like polar bears and all that, that's when it completely lost me.
That's when it jumped the shark, in your mind?
It jumped the polar bear.
Season 2 of 'TV With TV's Jonathan Torrens' premieres June 12 on TVTropolis.