Hey, Matt Iseman. How Well Do You Know Your Co-Hosts on American Ninja Warrior?
The stars of the hit TV show American Ninja Warrior are ultimately the competitors but there is a lot to be said about the hosts as well. Jenn Brown, Akbar Gbaja-Biamila, and Matt Iseman spout off play-by-play, do interviews, and have a repartee that makes them almost as entertaining as watching the ninjas run the course itself. I was lucky enough to snag an invite from Iseman to see the set while they were in Las Vegas (which starts airing September 1st on NBC) and while there, I met and talked to Jenn and Akbar as well. Full disclosure, I didn't know much about the show before I went there so I pretty much asked them all of the same questions about it. When compiling it all together, it sounded a little dry. Totally my fault. Because of that, we decided to cover our asses by flipping the script on stand-up comic and host extraordinaire Matt Iseman for a little friendly competition to see how his answers compare to his ANW co-hosts.
Matt Iseman (right): I think we celebrate the differences rather than actually point them out.
OC Weekly (Ali Lerman): Real quick, I heard about a hamstring incident involving you running the ANW course. Care to elaborate?
Matt Iseman: Oh god, I failed miserably! They actually banned me from running it again because they thought I was going to hurt myself. They were like, "Look. It's cute that you want to indulge your middle-aged fantasies of still being athletic, but we need you healthy." I do know that they have footage of me jumping from a trampoline to a cargo net, missing it, and doing the Shamu belly flop into the water. It was awful. Coming up wet while everyone was laughing at my efforts, that was the worst part of the video. It was humiliating. I think when it comes time to renegotiate, that video will come up like blackmail.
It probably will twinkle toes. So I asked your co-hosts their thoughts on what they think is the most difficult part of the course and what do you think that they said?
I think on stage one Akbar will say, well, I think that they'll both say the jumping spider. I do think that Jenn will focus more on the size of the competitors because that's what her biggest step would be and Akbar is going to focus on a lot of the upper body agility. So I'd say the jumping spider would be what they would say is the most difficult.
Yeah, you're totally wrong. Akbar said, "I would say the floating boards. I still can't grasp the concept of how you can grab onto something that is less than 6-inches wide and traverse across these boards that are floating while holding up your whole body." And no offence but you were wrong with Jenn too because she said, "I've run a few of the obstacles and couldn't do the quintuple steps. But I was soaking wet so I blame it on that."
Alright, stage three. OK, I'm not going to penalize Akbar for that. [Laughs.] And alright, the quintuple steps isn't in Vegas, there it's called "piston road." But yeah, that is one with height so I could see Jenn having trouble with the leg stance.
Way to explain yourself. Do you think there is an advantage with the men versus women or maybe with people who are trained in a particular field?
Initially I would say that men have an advantage but what we saw from Kacy Catanzaro, women are competing on the same level as men. As far as sport, rock climbers are proving to be the strongest. I think what we'll end up seeing though is that it's going to be someone who has everything. I think we'll see somewhat of a cross-training war.
OK I would say you all played it safe with that one because no one wants to be perceived as sexist. Akbar said, "I used to think so but looking at Michelle Warnky, Kacy Catanzaro, and you look at last year with Joyce Shahboz who was 40...these women are incredible. Sometimes you can look at something and think that they are not on equal playing ground but that's not true here." Jenn followed up with, "What I've learned from the show is that competitors you think are definitely going to do well may not and then vice versa. I think the perception is that the men will do better and I think women have taken that to heart and been bad ass because of it. I think in the end, no matter the age or gender, everyone just has to be well rounded."
Yeah! [Laughs.] The bottom line here is that we get accused of being sexist and ageist, even discriminating on people based on profession. I think we point out the differences because physical differences are important in such a physical sport. I think we celebrate the differences rather than actually point them out.
Well that's just trolls, you know what it is!
It is! That's what is unbelievable! Why can't a guy who is fifty do something that a twenty year old can do? They can!