In most athletic endeavors, competitors have stands full of friends and family cheering them on. But in ABC's Tuesday reality hit "Wipeout," because of the secrecy surrounding the course and outcomes of episodes taped months in advance, the contestants have just on-site host Jill Wagner.
"I feel just like their little cheering section down here," says Wagner, taking a break in her trailer on the "Wipeout" set in a rural area north of Los Angeles. "I'm the only thing they've got here, because they don't have any family. I'm trying to cheer for them and not laugh at them."
As any "Wipeout" fan knows, it's hard not to just laugh at the contestants, since one requirement for being on the show seems to be having a bold and often wacky personality.
"The No. 1 question I always get asked," says Wagner, "is, 'Are those people as crazy as they seem?' They make everybody laugh, so more power to them. It's really fun to get to talk to them, except for some of the people that think they've talked to aliens and stuff. That's kind of awkward.
"One lady said she had been abducted. Who knows? Maybe she really was. Who am I to judge?"
Wagner says she feels at home with the folks trying to win the ultimate $50,000 "Wipeout" prize.
"It feels like they grew up in my hometown in North Carolina," Wagner says. "I feel very connected to them."The show's other hosts, John Anderson and John Henson, make snarky comments on the action from a mysterious "booth."
"I love those guys," Wagner says. "I wish they'd come down and visit me more. It's a lot of fun down here."As to where the "booth" is, Wagner quips, "We shoot it all from my bathroom. They're in there right now. I don't let them out much."