'Wipeout' host John Henson and creator Matt Kunitz dish about Season 3

The PopWatch tribe has spoken, and crowned Wipeout as the best Guilty Pleasure Reality TV show of all time.

In honor of this career-defining achievement, EW spoke to the show’s creator/executive producer Matt Kunitz and one of its hosts, John Henson, about what makes the show’s pratfalls so special, and what new obstacles they have in store for Wipeout‘s season three, shooting now.

Henson says he wasn’t surprised by the PopWatch honor, since he campaigned on Facebook. “It was a lot like during the Obama election, we went down to canvassing door to door,” he quips, before getting philosophical: “I’m proud to be associated with a show that’s considered a guilty pleasure. My career began because of a guilty pleasure [Talk Soup]. That’s arguably the guiltiest pleasure of its era. I like to think of my comedy as a dark and deep shameful secret.”

He says Wipeout’s humor is universal. “It’s a guilty pleasure you can enjoy with your kid as well as your grandmother….We have an expression that we use: ‘It’s tragedy if it happens to me, it’s comedy if it happens to you.’ To see someone fall down is ‘Oh my god I’m so glad it’s not me.’ There’s something universally funny about watching the proverbial pratfall…and Wipeout is the greatest innovation to the pratfall since the banana peel.” (For the record, Henson’s favorite guilty pleasures are Dr. Drew’s Celebrity Rehab and Sex Rehab.)

Kunitz, a reality TV kingpin who worked on other guilty pleasures including Fear Factor and Dog Eat Dog, said he was “honored” by the votes from EW readers. “I think of Wipeout as a big fun, family show… Obviously people are laughing at other people wiping out. I don’t think the guilt is watching a bad show.”

The show’s third season – with 18 episodes, its biggest yet — is likely to debut directly following May’s NBA Finals on ABC.

“Season three is definitely a season of surprises,” Kunitz tells EW. “With the second season people have seen the show, they have figured out some of the obstacles. This season what they think they see before they run across isn’t necessarily what they will encounter.”

Innovations will include the “smack-wall sweeper,” which looks like a simple sweeper wall of blades for contestants to jump over, but actually has more movement to navigate. There’s also a new stunt called the Door Knock, which involves a huge hammerhead waiting behind a closed door.

The best pratfalls are yet to come, Kunitz promises: “My favorite wipeouts are coming up this season. In the Door Knock, you have this incredible element of surprise with the power of this 800-pound hammer to throw them back 15 feet. You get super slow motion of their complete look of shock.”

Thus far, one constant on Wipeout has been the big balls, which Kunitz reveals will change during some episodes in season three by spinning or going up and down on hydraulics.

Henson adds: “We’ve got new and even more demented obstacles. Every time I think to myself, ‘they’ve really reached the limit of what we can get people to participate in’, they find a new way to send someone pinwheeling in the air into water. It never gets old. I’ve been a comedian for more than 20 years and I laugh like a 5-year-old child when I go to work.”

Speaking of juvenile humor, Henson says one reward of the job is hearing people shout “big balls” at him when he’s walking down the street. He’ll stick with his closing line for season three and beyond: “’Good night and big balls,’ in my eyes, is the greatest signoff in the history of television.”

Photo Credit: Wipeout Season 3 Jeff Samaripa, courtesy Endemol USA; Henson: PR Photos.com; Kunitz; Todd Williamson/Wireimage.com

Comments (18 total) Add your comment
  • Matt

    I’ve watched this a few times and each time I bust out laughing. People falling down/getting thrown around will always be funny – and the commentary is a hoot! A well deserved win!

  • alan

    why didn’t someone ask them about the husband that died during their couples episode? wonder if that ep will still air?

    • Seen It

      I’m a huge fan and I read everything about that story! You didn’t do your research… the person in question had a brain condition that he was born with (and didn’t know about) and the aneurysm he died of (about two weeks later) was NOT caused by being a contestant on Wipeout. It’s much the same as a customer having a heart attack in a bank. A truly sad and unfortunate death, but don’t bash the show over something it had nothing to do with. That’s why it wasn’t a bigger story, cause there was no story. Bring us that episode and more!

  • I

    Love this show

  • Mara

    It just a copy of Ninja warrior, a japanese game show(which is better!!)

    • Yup

      And Ninja Warrior isn’t about mocking people. It’s actual athletic people who you can cheer for.

  • Ripley

    I thought when they said the Door Knock involved a huge Hammerhead waiting behind a door, they were talking about a shark. Now I’m not nearly as excited.

    • Robyn

      Makes me think of the old SNL Land Shark sketch.

      *Knock knock* Candygram.

  • Julie

    My seven year-old is DYING for a kid version of this show. He wants to try all of the stunts and fall off the big balls. =)

  • C.J.

    So glad my most favorite current show got the honor! I have almost every episode on DVD, including all of Season 2. I always leave with a smile and/or laugh each time; the 2 John’s & Jill give great effort to the show, and do I need to explain the Big Balls? Can’t wait for Season 3! :)

    And yes, it does borrow some elements from Japanese game shows, but I think “Wipeout” helped popularize them and helped people(including me) discover those shows.

  • Anasatan

    Can’t wait for Season 3! Our whole family loves Wipeout!

  • Reality Fan

    So excited to see Wipeout take the win. Love the show.l

  • Bri

    Hey, does anyone know how long wipeout will be on! I am 12, and im just dying to be on wipeout! I also have an 11 year old friend and she also wants to be on wipeout! So, if any of you peaple know how long the show will be on…let me know, hopefuly your answer is that it will be at least 7 more years! Thanks people!

  • Breanna

    They should have a kids wipeout for brothere and sister edition

  • Dallas

    Man ya i also wana join wipeout so imma signing up for it and its gonna be funny as HELL!!!

  • Dallas

    And hopefully when i get older i can create a show almost or just maybe funnier then wipeout. :P

  • alexandra

    hello, my name is alexandra and i want to know if you guys could create a kids wipeout so us kids could have some fun as well as adults. if you agree to my idea, the first episode my brother and i would like to participate in it as well as some of my friends. if you agree to my idea e -mail me some information on wehat you think.
    thank you,
    alexandra blackwell

  • Anthony

    I think Jill is very hot. and she seems very sweet. There are times though, when people get hung up in the zone, I see a little touch of evil in her laughter and her eyes. She might not be as sweet as we’re led to believe.!?

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