Ben Benjamins has been obsessed with game shows since he was a youngster, spending his free days watching contests like “The Price Is Right” and “Double Dare” so often that his parents finally took away his TV privileges. But his grandparents saved the day by taping the shows and letting him watch game shows at their home, fueling a passion that has led the Pasadena resident to create his own.
Benjamins launched “Buzz’d Out” on Pasadena Media’s public-access Arroyo Channel in January, following in the tradition of “Double Dare” by requiring contestants to engage in ridiculous physical challenges before they can answer the questions. Now, he and his girlfriend Roe Moore — who created the show with him and serves as its lead producer — are building off their first five monthly episodes by bringing the show to a live audience with four performances in the Hollywood Fringe Festival this month.
“The biggest difference is making sure our live audience doesn’t get bored while watching what’s on stage,” says Moore. “He’s seen multiple game shows where it was boring live and we’re making sure that not only the contestants on stage do the challenges, but the audience does them too and gives them something to pay attention to.”
“We would find our contestants from friends while testing the show, and now people apply,” adds Benjamins. “For our live show, we’re going to ask people who are lined up outside the venue before the show. We have a few challenges where the audience goes on stage and we give tarps to people up front because they won’t get soaked like a Gallagher show, but there might be residual splash back. Since they only let kids on ‘Double Dare,’ this is potentially the last outlet for ‘Double Dare’ fans to live out their fantasy of being on the show.”
Indeed, the show provides plenty of unique challenges for its contestants. At a festival preview show last Saturday, Benjamins asked four audience members to come down to the stage and don red, blue, yellow and green shirts. There were three fast-paced rounds to the half-hour game, with the first round requiring players to smash a plate of baked beans with their bare hands in order to buzz in and answer the questions, resulting in the beans flying all over the stage floor.
Contestants earned 10 points per correct answer in the first round, with the lowest scorer eliminated and sent back to their seats. The second round involved a musical-chairs style game, in which the players had to walk around four color-coded stools until the question and its color-coded multiple-choice answers were fully read off a screen by Benjamins, then fight to be the first to sit on the colored pad that matched the correct answer, with each question offering 20 points.
In the final round, the last two contestants had to put paint-filled balloons between their knees and be the first to successfully drop the balloon in a bucket in order to answer each question. Inevitably, some of the balloons popped along the way, leaving a paint-strewn mess. Some of these contests will be repeated in other Fringe editions, but each show will feature at least some other contests as part of the wildly entertaining mix.
“[‘Double Dare’ host] Marc Summers is the reason I wanted to get into the entertainment business in general, and I had the opportunity to meet him in college and he’s probably the nicest person in entertainment that I’ve ever met,” says Benjamins. “I’ve always been a magician as well, and I met Marc at the Magic Castle and now he’s a friend on my speed-dial. The 6-year-old version of me can’t believe what’s happening to me sometimes.”
“Buzz’d Out” will be performed at 11:45 p.m. Fri., 7:15 p.m. Sunday, 11:55 p.m. June 16 and 12:15 p.m. June 23 at the Studio/Stage, 520 N. Western Ave., Los Angeles. Tickets are $15. Visit buzzdout.com/live.