‘Killer Karaoke,’ pain for ears and eyes
TruTV reality series puts contestants through various tortures
November 19, 2012
Though television in general has gotten noisier over the past few decades, some types of shows are particularly annoying when someone in the next room is watching them — for example, tween comedies, pro wrestling and stunt-oriented game shows.
Not coincidentally, they're also annoying when you're watching them yourself.
TruTV's new game show "Killer Karaoke" is deliberately cacophonous, and the entertainment value doesn't make up for the noise pollution. What's more, although we've been desensitized by years of painful stunts on reality TV, most viewers will feel twinges of guilt for laughing at the pain and humiliation the contestants are put through. Despite the occasional chuckles, the show is basically a guilty displeasure.
Premiering this Friday, Nov. 23, at 9 p.m., "Killer Karaoke" is hosted by Steve-O, a star of MTV's don't-try-this-at-home series "Jackass." In each show, six contestants try to sing karaoke favorites while being subjected to various "Jackass"-style tribulations meant to hurt, frighten or disgust them.
For example, the first contestant, a young woman named Melissa who is identified as a preacher's daughter from Texas, tries to sing A-ha's "Take On Me" while being dipped into a pool of frigid water into which stagehands dump buckets of snakes and small alligators.
Before she starts, Steve-O utters the show's catch phrase: "No matter what happens, do not stop singing." She does her best, but the line "I'll be gone" comes out as "I'll be so gone — oh, my God!"
Each contestant is initially paired off with another. Melissa competes against a young man from Georgia named Michael, who is forced to sing the Allman Brothers' "Ramblin' Man" while pretending to be a waiter in a Mexican restaurant serving Steve a meal. To make this hard, he is hooked to electrodes that gives shocks that, according to Steve, "range from mild to very spicy."
Most viewers will laugh along as Michael lurches back and forth to Steve's table, dropping platters of tortillas and trays of drinks. But sometimes the pain seems too real to be funny.
Fortunately, the contestants are so animated and glib that one starts to suspect they're would-be actors or singers who would do anything for some airtime and thus probably deserve what they're getting.
After each pair-off, the audiences pick a winner, and then the process is repeated with four other contestants. The final challenge is prosaic: The three finalists get on a giant spinning turntable and sing Blondie's "One Way or Another."
The last one thrown off can win up to $10,000, depending on how long he remains on the turntable. In this case, the winner gets only $5500.
Although such reality competitions as "Survivor," "Fear Factor" and "The Chair" have put contestants through mental or physical anguish, the payoff is usually a lot higher. Having stepped into a pile of maggots or had their chest waxed, some contestants still go home with nothing.
Steve-O is a good choice as host. He tells one contestant, "I would never do anything to you that's worse than the things I've done to myself." As he stares in amazement at the contestants' plight, he seems driven more by curiosity than by cruelty.
After each segment, Steve delivers a recap. Since these bits are obviously recorded after the live taping, they should be cleverer.
At an hour, the show is simply too long. The producers already seem to be running out of ideas for new forms of torment: Alligators and scorpions each appear in two different segments; snakes appear in three.
A little "Killer Karaoke" should be enough for most viewers. More than an hour would be torture.
Fox’s Monday lineup slips anew against ‘The Bachelor’
The 2017 Academy Awards by the numbers
This week’s top-rated movies, songs and books
With less than a week to go, the Oscars sell out
Number of people using mobile-only internet soars
The NBA ratings surge continues with All-Star Game
Media buyers’ picks: What’s hot (and not) in digital radio
The coming breakup of Clear Channel Outdoor
Remembering Maya Angelou and her distinctive voice
Newspaper: We’ll sue over senator’s ‘fake news’ jibe
‘The Good Fight’ sneak preview draws some sampling
‘Meet the Press’ wins Stephen Miller week
CBS squeaks out first-place finish on Friday
- Luca Pannese and Luca Lorenzini join Publicis NY
- Jorge Murillo rises to VP and ECD at Alma
- Keith Cox rises to development president at Paramount Network
- Matt McAllester rises to editor in chief at Newsweek
- Jason Simms becomes director of drama and comedy at Sky Vision
- Santiago Cabrera joins CBS's 'Salvation'
- Retta joins the cast of NBC's 'Good Girls'
- Antonia Thomas joins ABC's 'The Good Doctor'
- Radio humorist Stuart McLean dies at age 68
This week’s top-rated movies, songs and books
This week’s daypart ratings
This week’s broadcast ratings
This week’s cable ratings
This month’s digital traffic data: December 2016
Opening for a media planner at a top OOH agency
Orlando agency looking for a media planner/buyer
Freelance media planner/buyer available
Junior media planner/buyer position in Minneapolis-St. Paul
Media sales coordinator opening in New York