On “Glee,” which requires the greatest suspension of disbelief?
A) That the Glee Club has a full-time adult band;
B) That McKinley High classrooms are equipped with AutoTune, while most high schools in this country are low on chairs;
C) That neither Jane Lynch nor Matthew Morrison’s characters aren't regularly sleeping with their students;
D) That the guy with the faux-hawk would be friends with any of these people.
Choose your answer carefully -– there could be money at stake!
On Thursday night, the music-centric FuseTV will debut a new music and pop culture trivia game show: “Funny Or Die’s Billy on the Street.” In the half-hour series, Eichner roams New York sidewalks accosting pedestrians with outrageous trivia questions and passing out cold cash for correct answers. It’s a fast-paced, high-energy quiz show that’s as much about the contestants as it is about celebrities, Eichner says.
“Pop culture is just a jumping off point. It’s about how opinionated people are about pop culture. Even old ladies will come at me with these specific, thoughtful opinions about Lady Gaga!” he says. “And it’s about this insane amount of passion and urgency I bring to these topics.”
The die-hard New Yorker, who grew up in Forest Hills, Queens, says he was completely addicted to pop culture as a kid.
“My father would read me Page Six instead of, like, kids stories,” Eichner says. “Solid Gold' and 'Saturday Night Live.' I was obsessed with award shows and made charts and graphs and stuff when I was 7 years old. I found the entertainment business hilarious, ridiculous and alluring -- and my parents supported it, for better or worse.”
Eichner, a regular performer at New York’s Upright Citizen’s Brigade theater, has been honing the show’s concept -- and his frenzied, manic alter-ego -- ever since. He first created the pop culture video shorts in 2004 as part of a live comedy show, “Creation Nation,” that played in the East Village, he says.
“I’d throw in a video here and there. The man on the street [bits] always got a huge reaction and became a big part of the show.”
After Eichner uploaded several of the videos to YouTube in 2010, they went viral, he says.
“They got picked up by Gawker, Huffington Post, Funny Or Die, a bunch of websites. Hundreds of thousands of views online. Soon after I got a call from “Funny Or Die.”
“Billy on the Street” is Funny Or Die’s third non-web TV show after “Funny Or Die Presents” on HBO and Comedy Central’s “Jon Benjamin Has a Van.” The show airs Thursday at 11 p.m. on FuseTV.
Oh, and the answer is: D.
-- Deborah Vankin
Photo: Comedian Billy Eichner interviews passersby on the new show "Funny or Die's Billy on the Street." Credit: John Durgee / Fuse