'Wipeout': Host Jill Wagner talks spills, big red balls

wipe-out-hostImage Credit: ABCI like to watch other people fall down. It’s just funny. And don’t think I’m above falling myself. As a matter of fact, it happens frequently, and I know others enjoy it. It’s that simple principle that has led ABC’s Wipeout to summertime success. Contestants take on different obstacle courses in an effort to knock out the competition and win the $50,000 grand prize. The new season premieres tonight, and with 60 obstacles added to the course, there will be no shortage of falls. Host Jill Wagner took some time to answer some questions about the show, and share her behind-the-scenes secrets.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Why do you think the show has been so successful?
I think that people love Wipeout simply because it’s just plain, simple fun. Falling down — I mean, I know you probably laugh when you see people fall down, as long as they don’t get hurt. It’s the same thing with Wipeout. It’s never going to get old. I think that kids really love it, and it’s a really good family show. It’s nice to see something that you can sit down with your kids and watch them laugh and also laugh as well.

What’s the worst wipeout you’ve seen on the show?
That [answer] would take entirely too long. There’s like a billion. It seems like every day I go out, I’m like, “Okay, it’s not going to get worse today. It can’t get any worse.” And then it does. I mean people surprise me, though. People’s bodies can bend in ways that I never thought they could unless they had been drinking, and they haven’t been drinking. It’s a little bit of Wipeout madness. It’s crazy.

How do you keep a straight face when hosting?
I can’t. I really try to keep a straight face, but it’s impossible. I challenge anyone to come down and do my job and keep a straight face. It’s absolutely impossible.

What’s your favorite Wipeout obstacle?
I think it’s always going to be the big red balls, but we’ve added something to it this year. There are a lot of different things that have changed, but I still revert to the big red balls trick. It’s just funny. The thing about it this year is we have a hidden motivator, which is, well, hidden. So that can be a lot of fun. I’m sure it’s not for the contestants, but for all of the viewers at home, it’s going to be a lot of fun.

Have you ever been through one of the obstacle courses? Would you consider doing one?
Lord no! I think I might want to try the obstacle course with the cameras off, but there would always be some camera. They’re always going to catch me doing it. It’s a lot more intimidating than it looks on the television screen, I can tell you that. Once you get on the course, it’s a lot bigger and scarier.

What might people not know about the show?
I bet people don’t know that we bet on the contestants. It’s probably not [allowed], but we do. I definitely always win. I’m really good at picking the winner. At first, I think I just normally gravitated toward the guy or woman who looked like an Olympic trainer, but now I just kind of pick the awkward gangly ones. They tend to do better than the athletic ones.

What’s the strangest thing that’s ever happened while filming?
We were filming and all of the sudden these cows just came out of the woods. I thought they were a part of the set, so I was going to go up to them and start messing with them. But they were like, “No, Jill. Don’t mess with the cows. They aren’t supposed to be here.” We had to get some people to wrangle them. A lot of people don’t know that the set is on a big ranch. There are all kinds of different animals.

What kind of animals?
Well there are bees that cover that place. Every time I get out there, I’m deathly afraid of bees. So that’s all I do is I just run away from bees the whole time I’m trying to interview. In the middle of my interview, I’ll just run away from the person. It’s really not professional.

Comments (30 total) Add your comment
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  • TimW

    The very definition of a guilty pleasure. We try to watch, but we can’t help ourselves. By the far, the most we laugh at anything – TV or movie – all week long. I’ve given up fighting it, which just feels like the right thing to do. Big Balls for everyone!

  • TimW

    Oops, meant to say try NOT to watch….

  • Iron

    I love this show and I’m not afraid to admit it. I have encouraged so many people to watch it and they all love it too.

  • Peter

    I prefer Ninja Warrior. Actual athleticism, but still some spectacular wipeouts.

    • Alice

      Love, love love, Ninja Warrior!

  • SLB

    This show can’t even come close to MXC which is what it tries to imitate. Just don’t find it funny. And this season they’ve pretty much made every obstacle impossible so everyone falls. Wow, funny.

    • Big Walt

      For me MXC got old pretty quickly. Wipeout is still good to me. Probably doesn’t hurt that Jill’s freaking hot.

      • Auriana

        I grew tired of MXC as well, mostly due to the dubbing and the near limitless potty humor/immature sex jokes. It’s just not funny. MXC is more entertaining in its original Takeshi’s Castle format with subtitles as it’s so crazy to begin with, it doesn’t need the ridiculous frat boy humor. I do LOVE Wipeout.

    • dublin

      Totally SLB! I tried watching Wipeout but I find myself frustrated and missing Kenny! “Right you are, Ken!”

    • Melissa Tibbetts

      Agreed! Having obstacles impossible is no fun. That hidden motivator has completely WRECKED the Big Balls which was my VERY favotite part of the show!!

  • Ana170

    I’d avoided this show but happened to catch the last half of the recent blind dating special and thought it was fun. I’ve decided to add it (for now) to my very short summer must-watch list, along with Mad Men.

  • Karl

    I wonder if she drives a Mercury to the ranch

  • Big


  • LaurÀ

    Wipeout is by far the funniest show I’ve ever watched! My 2 year old even laughs at it! She likes when people fall all funny! 8)

  • Anne

    I love the show, but I still don’t understand how no one has ever broken their neck on it. See the way people’s heads jerk back when they face-plant on some object? How does that NOT break a neck?

  • Trish

    I’m with you, Anne. Just look at the pic with this article–that’s just not normal. I’ve ripped my hamstring and my deltoid, and I wasn’t doing anything remotely close to what these contestants do. They must have to sign all kinds of waivers to compete.

  • Zach


    This has to be TV’s dumbest show on right now. It constantly lowers the bar for summer TV. I’ve never watched, and I never will. There will ALWAYS be something else on that’s much better. Go watch a classic movie on TCM. Go watch porn, for God’s sake. This crap has absolutely no redeeming cultural value whatsoever. I only clicked on this article to see whether anyone else agreed. :(

    • JoY

      Dude, take a flippin chill pill. This doesn’t lower the bar for summer TV. It’s like an homage to the ancient Roman gladiator fights. People like to watch people get the snot knocked out of themselves!

    • Clif

      Well, smell you!

  • JoY

    Mindless entertainment that far exceeds my expectation of greatness!!! I love this! The hosts are hilarious!!

    PS This is SUCH a great interview!!

  • Robin

    I do not want to watch this anymore. I really did enjoy the show until I noticed that women are at an athletic disadvantage and unable to win the big prize. I did enjoy rooting for contestants but knowing that the game is unfair has ruined it for me. There is a reason that all sports (including bowling) are separated by gender. If I was a woman and had attempted to compete on this show I would sue.

    • Laila

      Are you saying that girls are less athletically inclined than guys because we’re not. we are just as capable of winning the big prize as any other person on this amazing show! that’s like saying that jocks shouldn’t be placed against skinny guys. I think you’re completely nuts!! :(

      • Zach

        I think you missed his point!

      • Clif

        What if Robin….is a woman!

        Duhn – duhn – duhn!

  • Laila

    Good night and Big Balls!!

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