Ben Gleib is an actor and stand up comedian who continues to be making noise in the entertainment industry. Having been known for his podcast, Last Week on Earth, as well as being a roundtable guest on Chelsea Lately, Ben has recently taken on the role of game show host for the second season of Idiotest, which began this week. I spoke with him about game shows, GSN, paying your dues, music and more.
Alex Obert: So how has the new year been treating you so far?
Ben Gleib: It’s pretty good. I bought a house and I’m in the middle of getting some work done on it so I can move in. And I’ve got a new girlfriend, so a lot of changes.
Alex Obert: It’s a big time for you with the brand new season of Idiotest. What’s going through your head about it?
Ben Gleib: It’s very exciting. I think that the show’s gonna be new and improved, it’ll be the same show everybody enjoyed from season one with new things and surprises that I think people will enjoy. So it’s really exciting to be able to bring the show back again. It’ll be fun to be able to catch our stride now that we are already a proven show, it’ll give us a chance to expand what we do a little bit. We’ll make sure we still deliver the same quality of tests to everybody.
Alex Obert: What went through your head when the show was originally approved with you as the host?
Ben Gleib: I was just thrilled. I was just so excited. I knew that they had a really unique concept for a show on their hands. When I was asked to host a run-through of it in the conference room, it went really well. It was funny and engaging and challenging. And I had a very good feeling that they would pick it up to pilot. From what I’m told, what happened next was pretty rare for TV. They skipped the pilot and went straight to a forty episode pickup order for season one just from that conference room run-through, I couldn’t have been more thrilled. I was just very excited to have the opportunity to host it because it’s well-suited for my comedy. Everybody knows this is what I have been training for all my life. In my stand up act, I do a lot of crowd work. In fact, I trained myself to find holes in people’s logic and find ways to point out why what they just said didn’t make sense or was kind of stupid. That’s ideal training to host Idiotest.
Alex Obert: Regarding the format of the show, how do you go about exercising your brain?
Ben Gleib: Hopefully most of us are exercising our brain every day in living and not just staring at a TV screen all day long, they should only really watch a TV screen when Idiotest airs, along with other GSN programming. (laughs) The biggest way that I’ve challenged my brain throughout my life is to think fast and think quickly on my feet, which I do as host of the show. I grew up with a speech problem where there were some wires crossed in my brain, couldn’t actually speak and say the things I wanted to say. I had to learn how to, at a split second notice, take left and right turns to think of other ways to say what I wanted to say. My theory is that that may have opened new synapses in my brain and enabled me to think faster than I would have otherwise been able to.
Alex Obert: Growing up, which game show hosts did you admire?
Ben Gleib: Alex Trebek was the gold standard. To this day, I am huge Jeopardy fan. I play it with my family all the time, we keep score out loud and we compete very seriously. I’m proud to say that I win almost always. Alex Trebek, he’s just classic in that respect. With the same style that I host, I liked Marc Summers on Double Dare because of how much fun he’d have with the kids on that show. Wink Martindale with somebody that I enjoyed watching for years. I like Chuck Woolery, always been a fan of him. I remember I saw him one time at Rite Aid when I was young boy, he was in line buying ice cream and I was very excited. I wanted to ask him to say “We’ll be back in two and two”, but I felt it was inappropriate because there were no commercials that were coming up. It was great meeting him and I felt excited about it, it’s not often you get to meet Chuck Woolery.
Alex Obert: Being on GSN, I’m really intrigued about this. What was it like when you met The Beast?
Ben Gleib: That was exciting. The Beast is a beast. I was so impressed because he’s such a nice guy off-camera, I’m sure he doesn’t want me saying that. A very cool guy. I had him come up and play a couple questions for Idiotest and the first one almost stumped him! He and Brooke were playing together, but then he found this mistake and he got the answer correct. We were on set on the first day of taping Idiotest and The Beast was also taping The Chase in a different studio in the same lot. He came over to my dressing room to wish me luck, which I thought was incredibly cool of him. And meeting Brooke Burns for the first time was also pretty incredible because she’s just one of the coolest chicks. So nice and fun and funny and one of the most stunning human beings in the world. That never hurts. She’s not as good looking as The Beast, but as far as women go, she’s very attractive.
Alex Obert: As someone who performs stand up comedy and takes on all these different roles, what are the most important things about paying your dues in the entertainment industry?
Ben Gleib: I think you need to be willing to get ready to do it. With our social media culture, a lot of people these days expect to have a big career overnight. And that idea is certainly pushed forward by the fact that it does happen sometimes because the industry can be known as heatseekers. They find someone who has gotten some love online and all of a sudden, they’re sure the person is ready and worthy of a three picture deal or a development deal for multiple TV shows. I haven’t seen anybody strike big from one of those deals, so it remains to be seen whether that’s true or not. But I just think that you need to realize that it can’t be about fame, you can’t be trying to become famous. If you are, it’s a shallow errant, being recognized by people is a pretty pointless endeavor. I think your goal needs to be based in the work that you wanna do and why you wanna do it. Do you want to entertain people, do you want to make them laugh, do you want to make them think? It needs to be based on the work because success is not guaranteed to anybody. Even if you’re talented, it’s a combination of success, work ethic, patience, luck and time. You really have to be ready to just love the work and to love it for your whole life, regardless of the amount of notoriety that you receive for it. If you do that, you will get the notoriety as by-product because when you do well and you’re passionate about it, it will just spread rate you can do it in front of bigger and bigger audiences. So it all works out together.
Alex Obert: Tying into the theme of Journey of a Frontman, what’s on your iPod?
Ben Gleib: Well I currently don’t have an iPod, I have an iPhone and I don’t have songs loaded into it because I’m using Spotify lately. I answer questions very specifically. I’ve been trained to do that with Idiotest. Last year, my favorite album was Some Nights by Fun. It spoke to me in a major way. It’s really enjoyable when you connect with an album like that. I’ve been listening lately to some Rolling Stones. I’ve been listening to some Beatles, like I often do. I’ve been listening to a lot of Sublime again lately, they’re one of my favorite bands of all time. Putting 40oz. to Freedom on loop quite a bit. And definitely some emotional love songs that I will not share with you.
Alex Obert: (laughs) In closing, when can readers catch Idiotest?
Ben Gleib: Our new season airs in our new day and time. We are now airing two episodes a week on Wednesdays at 8/7 central on Game Show Network.
Alex Obert: Looking forward to it! Thank you very much for your time.
Ben Gleib: You got it, man! Thank you.