Bob Saget Takes on the Mob

A significant portion of America knows Bob Saget as Danny from "Full House" and as the host of "America's Funniest Home Videos," two of the squeaky-cleanest roles on television in the past couple of decades.

A smaller portion of the populace knows Saget for his sometimes filthy stand-up act, an aspect of his career he showcased in "The Aristocrats" last year.

Starting Friday, TV viewers can see a Saget that falls somewhere between those two poles. He'll be the host of a new game show, "1 vs. 100," on NBC. The show pits one player against a "mob" of 100 people in a trivia contest. For every answer the single player gets right and others get wrong, he or she wins money. Anyone who eliminates all 100 members of the mob will walk away with $1 million.

The 100 have something to play for too: If the "1" gets a question wrong, the remaining members of the mob split the pot. That aspect of the show was one of the things that attracted Saget.

"It got real," Saget says. "At some points it just felt funny -- there are a bunch of people in this mob, and they know they're on television, so we'd come back from commercial, and 'It's the angry mob!' ... But when there really was money at stake, they got very serious about it."

Saget professes a long-standing love of game shows, having watched "You Bet Your Life" reruns and "The Match Game" while he was growing up. At their heart, he says, "1 vs. 100" isn't that different from those classic shows, "except when 'The $64,000 Question' or 'You Bet Your Life' was going on, there wasn't an angry, competing mob yelling at the person."

Like NBC's other game show, "Deal or No Deal," "1 vs. 100" originated overseas and was brought to this country by Endemol USA. The game retains its basic format, but Endemol's Scott St. John, who's executive producing the show, says he tried to give the American version its own flair.

Thus, instead of just asking players the name of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, "1 vs. 100" asks, "If you were playing 'The Name Game' with the Secretary-General of the United Nations, how would it go?'" (Answer: "Kofi Kofi Bo Bofi.")

"I think it speaks to the fact that ... just as we have a unique host for this show, we wanted to find a voice for the questions that was also unique and didn't feel similar to or make you think of other shows that have come before it," St. John says. "It's multiple-choice questions, and that's what it is, but we made a concerted effort to give it some kind of sensibility. We're not trying to write jokes, but we are trying to present questions that ask legitimate factual knowledge in a way that feels different, and hopefully it will get a chuckle or a smile."

Likewise, Saget isn't there just to throw in punchlines. What he enjoys about the game, he says, is similar to what he likes doing in his stand-up act -- "just bouncing off people," as he puts it.

"It's not stand-up, but it does employ what I love about it," he says. "I've got 100 people in front of me, and I can just call on No. 31 and start riffing with that person. That's just fun."

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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