Part Two: Interview With “Let’s Ask America” Host Kevin Pereira
Tomorrow is the premiere of the Skype-based syndicated game show, Let’s Ask America. (Visit the show’s website to see if you’re in one of the initial cities receiving the show.) I interviewed the program’s host Kevin Pereira on Friday and shared the first part of the interview. In the final portion, we discuss what makes a good at-home contestant, how he has seen Let’s Ask America actually change people’s lives, we use his tech background to get an insight on upgrading to the newest iPhone and we try to pinpoint what one thing is the most fun for being a first-time game show host.
Chad Mosher: What would you say to people who are still waffling on whether or not to try out for the show? And what do you think is the most important factor in being a successful contestant for Let’s Ask America?
Kevin Pereira: Oh, that’s the best thing, I love when people come to the show, I’ve had friends and family come out to watch a taping and they immediately say, “ohh, okay, I need to try out for this.” I think once people see an episode, they’ll see that they can play this game. Again, it’s not knowledge-based, it’s opinion-based. So, everybody can truly play, everybody has a pretty good shot at winning this game. You know, certainly some people reason a little better than others but the idea is if you have an opinion, or rather if you have an opinion about other people’s opinions, you can play. That’s all, you need a webcam, you need to be 18 or older and hopefully have a smile. We like big energy, we like people to have a good time, we obviously want people to be excited but who wouldn’t?
And, really, the key is just being able to explain your opinion. Because I can say: “The View, Dr. Phil or Days of Our Lives. We polled prison inmates all across the country and asked them which TV show would they choose if they could only watch one for a year.” That’s a real question on the show and people can win two grand just for answering that question specific. If I give that out there, a lot of people go, “hmm, hmm, I think Dr. Phil” or “I think The View” and that’s half the battle. The other half of the battle, what makes the show really, really fun, is when people walk through their thought process because, you know, if we have a question about women in Cincinnati, someone in New York will say, “I’ve been through Cincinnati, I dated a girl from Cincinnati… and it can’t be x because of y.” You know, that’s what we love. We love that formula where people explain their opinions and their thoughts, so, if you can walk us through what’s going on in your head when you’re giving out your opinion based on other people then you can absolutely be on. And I’m telling you, I have seen people change their lives in 20 minutes. Literally 20, 30 minutes playing on a webcam, playing from their kitchen. I’ve seen people win almost $50,000, very close, you know, high 40s. And it’s their honeymoon, it’s their kid’s college, it’s the add-on to the house or a down payment on a new one, just for having an opinion.
CM: Sure. I mean, anything with five figures is absolutely not messing around. That can do a lot for anybody.
KP: Oh, yeah, absolutely. One of the mechanics at the show is that at the end, let’s say you’ve played a perfect game up until the final round. You could’ve banked $10,000. Then there’s a final question. You can risk any or all of your earnings on it. If you actually go all in, if you risk it all, you get five times the amount that you’ve banked, so that’s how you can get your 50 grand. I’ve seen people get nine thousand, eight thousand-plus and decide to risk it all. And I’m biting my nails, I’m rocking back and forth, I’m filled with anxiety. The crowds are screaming on their feet. And we’ve seen people hit, and we know it’s going to change their lives and we’ve seen people lose and, you know, they’re still happy. They leave with a thousand dollars if they risk it all but that dichotomy, that wild swing, I mean, I know it happens in game shows but to be a part of it, to be at the helm of it, it plays with my soul. Imagine my soul is a Slinky in the show’s hands and it just goes back and forth from hand to hand. Those moments are just so dramatic.
CM: A quick question going back to your tech roots. I have an iPhone 4S. Should I or anyone else in my situation consider upgrading to iPhone 5 even though I’ll have the new iOS in about a week?
KP: It’s a great question, depends on, I guess, the major, major point of the upgrade is going to be LTE [also known as 4G]. If you’re a heavy data consumer and you’re in an LTE market and you want that access to high-speed data, then yes, you’re going to have to upgrade. I wish the 5 were a more significant upgrade. I think the A6 chip is going to be nice and fast, but the 4S is plenty fast for most people. LTE is a big deal if you care about high speed data. For me, I use my phone as a hotspot, I use it to connect my mobile devices and I’m on the road a lot. So now I don’t need a hotspot, I just use my device as that. iPhone, for me, still has one of the best cameras, even though on paper it’s not the most impressive camera. I think optically it still holds up and looks beautiful.
So, to me it feels like an incremental upgrade the same way the 4S was an incremental upgrade to the 4. 5, although it has a new number and is supposed to be a much larger overhaul, it feels like an incremental upgrade. So, I would say if LTE isn’t a huge deal to you and you really don’t need that high speed data and you think the speed of that 4S is just fine, there’s absolutely no reason to upgrade. For me, I’ll hop in, I’ll do it. I was eligible for the upgrade so it makes sense, but probably late spring, mid-next year there’s going to be the 5S or whatever their next iteration is and that would be the one that someone who has a 4S should make the leap for.
CM: Great answer, that’s very informative, I appreciate that.
KP: Sure, oh yeah. And if you’re having problems with the Wi-Fi I can fix that too and I can also load balance a Cisco router. Whatever you need, I’m here. [laughs] Listen, I have to have a contingency plan in case this game show thing doesn’t work out!
CM: [laughs] Exactly, exactly.
KP: I can’t ever lose my roots. And I should mention, though, the bigger screen, it’s a slightly, slightly larger screen but I have seen it. It does look a lot better. It’s not going to blow you away. It is a prettier screen. Some people are like, well, the 4 inch screen is a big deal. To me, it’s not as huge of a deal but it’s alright. I feel like the nerd in me, I need to put a no and an asterisk every time.
CM: Sure. And so clearly, you’re having a fantastic time with this whole experience. You seem to literally be really, really enjoying it and that’s awesome to hear. But, as a last question, if you could only pick one thing to identify as the most fun part of this job for you, what would it be?
KP: Wow. Selfishly, it’s hard to pick one because I want to say the team. The team at Scripps and Telepictures have just made this entire process enjoyable. I’ve made a lot of TV with a lot of different companies over the years and this is the one that is just like, “Oh! This is what making something fun should feel like!” You know, everybody should be excited and have a blast. Unfortunately, in the industry sometimes you work on projects where that’s not the case. So selfishly, personally, for me that one thing is the team. But speaking for the show, I’m amazed at how we cram four larger than life personalities into a half hour. I’m amazed that that comes through. I think that, you know, some people look to the technology and they potentially want to write it off as a gimmick or they want to dismissively say “oh yeah, those people play from their home, got it.” Until you see it, until you watch it play out, I don’t think that you do get it.
And in some episodes more so than others, you really get a sense of who these people are. And even if most shows go “oh, tell us about yourself,” you get that one sentence about the contestant. You know, we certainly have that beat but now naturally, organically. in every answer that they give, in every second that you are seeing that contestant, because they are in their house, because they are in their element giving their opinions, people are more relaxed, people are more comfortable. And you really get to see sides of them that you never would in a traditional studio game show. And that, to me, is still so amazing. We’re just having a conversation half the time, and the show’s based about opinions. So it’s like watching Americans having a conversation discussing American topics, pop culture, love, sex, religion, you name it. It’s all being discussed in the guise of this game show. I literally get tickled as I describe it and I was not expecting that. So it truly has been, as I said right off the bat, it’s been ta blessing.
Let’s Ask America premieres Monday in select cities in syndication. You can watch a preview from the premiere below.