I like Fuse. I often forget about it because it’s buried pretty deep in my channel flipping zone (somewhere before the porn channels, but after the public access channels.) However, when I am doing a deep TV flip, I like what I see when I land on Fuse. I like that they actually play music videos, I like that Nicki Minaj and Drake take over a fair amount, I like that they show concerts, and I like their documentaries on the music industry. They do a good job filling the music void that MTV left.
A few weeks ago, while I was doing a deep flip, I saw that Fuse was airing a show that wasn’t about music. I instantly became worried. Is this going to be the “Laguna Beach” of Fuse? Is this show going to be the slippery slope that leads Fuse to become an all reality TV network? I decided to watch “Billy on the Street,” knowing absolutely nothing about it. It’s not music videos or concerts, but if this the direction the network is going towards, I’m a fan.
“Billy on the Street” claims to be a new pop-culture trivia game show where you can win money. If you’re thinking you’ve got a fair shot at being a great contestant on this show, think again. You have no shot at signing up to be a contestant. Host Billy Eichner grabs his contestants off the streets of New York and they have no idea he’s coming for them. Shocked and confused pedestrians stumble and have a hard time coming up with answers as they are suddenly ambushed with questions about Heidi Klum’s marriage and what celebrities they hate the most. It is, quite possibly, one of the most wildly brilliant and hilarious game shows to ever grace the television set.
To call it a game show is really unfair to host Billy Eichner. True enough, he is asking trivia questions and giving prizes to contestants who are winners (even though sometimes the prizes are as simple as a pair of shoes,) but Billy is really a character to watch. If you are looking for Alex Trebek, keep flipping. There are moments in the show where Billy says exactly what you are thinking; only you assumed it would be inappropriate to say on television. “That is ridiculous” he says as a woman tells him her name is Haiyasi. “I don’t want to hear about the exhausting gays” he groans as a woman dodges an Anne Hathaway question to speak of her gay pride. As a group of high school girls scream their status as the best actresses and fight for camera time, Billy pushes them out of the way and screams louder and prouder that he is in fact the best actress. Has Alex Trebek ever done that?
The host is not the only character on the show. Once again the city of New York provides a sea of characters. Billy runs up and down the streets of New York asking comical, yet fairly simple questions such as “scream the name of a celebrity you hate.” On the one hand we have the hilarious expressions of people caught off guard, like the woman who looks beyond perplexed as she yells out Adam Sandler’s name. On the other, we have a man who takes it upon himself to step into the camera and scream Marc Anthony’s name without any prompting.
The setting and host are a perfect match. When paired with pretty funny trivia questions, we have a really fun and innovative comedy trivia show. The show was created by the people at Funny or Die which makes perfect sense, because if you think about the funniest clips you watch during the year, I bet most of them are from something you watched online. It’s nice to see a show on my television set that makes me laugh from the comfort of my couch (because the walk to the computer desk is oh so far.)
While I enjoy my music networks and am anxiously awaiting a Pitbull takeover, I’m okay with Fuse’s decision to add “Billy on the Street” to their line-up. In fact, this is such a perfect pairing of music, trivia and comedy, that I think I’ll work Fuse into my regular flipping rotation.