Marc Summers and What Would You Do
About five years ago, I was puttering around on YouTube when I stumbled upon a music video by Good Charlotte called “Last Night.” I hadn’t heard a new Good Charlotte song in several years, so I decided to give it a listen. I found the song to be a light and catchy, but it was nothing special. I wasn’t impressed so much with the song, but I instantly fell in love with the music video. The video took place during an episode of Double Dare and original Double Dare host himself, Marc Summers, was in the video.
Now getting a like or a retweet from a celebrity doesn’t usually do a ton for me. I know a lot of times they just hit like on everything. But Marc Summers actually Tweeted me back and asked where I saw the episode. I was on cloud nine. It might as well been Buddha himself talking to me, because I was awe struck. My entire childhood I dreamed of interacting with Mr. Summers and after twenty-five years, it had actually happen.
I started watching as much Double Dare as I could find and even introduced my wife to the show. It was a wonderful trip back down memory lane and to this day I don’t think there is any event that I’d rather compete in than the Double Dare obstacle course. It is cemented in my mind as the pinnacle of fun and competition.
But Double Dare wasn’t Marc Summer’s only show, he also hosted the rarely discussed What Would You Do? The show was an interactive audience experience at Nickelodeon Studios where a series of gags, pranks, and games were set up and random park goers were asked to partake in them. I loved What Would You Do, almost as much as Double Dare, and thought I’d share some of the elements of the show since it is so rarely discussed online.
What Would You Do ran for ninety-episodes over two seasons in 1991-1993. The show featured all sorts of competitions, skits, and pranks. One of the episodes I watched recently featured booth that was set up in Universal Studios offering “Celebrity Left Overs.” These half eaten meals were sealed in ziplock bags and offered up to guests as real life celebrity left overs. There was Hulk Hogan’s spinach, Roseanne’s Cherry Pie, and Tony Danza’s pizza. It was fun to watch the kids (and a few adults) process the gross factor and eat what they believed to be the left overs of said celebrity.
The in-studio element of What Would You Do had a series of pie contraption that were used to… uh, well… pie the audience members.
The most commonly used pie contraption was the Pie Pod. The Pie Pod was a barber’s chair that an audience member sat in while the machine would throw pies at his or her face. Marc usually gave the audience a choice on how many pies would be thrown at the audience member, and they always voted for the most either four or five depending on the season.
The Pie Wash was used for just one season since it didn’t work nearly as well as the other pie contraptions. The Pie Wash was a spinning chair that was surrounded by hoses that squirted a liquidized form of what I can only believe is watered down whipped cream. The audience member would be spun around and hosed down in this whipped cream concoction before a large spinning brush resembling that of an old school car wash would help clean them off. It was common for not enough pie filling to be squirted out to actually cover the audience member.
The Pie Slide
The Pie Slide was exactly what it sounds like. A slide covered in whipped cream that leads down into a huge pool full of whipped cream and a beach ball that was made to look like a cherry. It was definitely the messiest of the pie contraptions and made for some great camera shots when people went down headfirst holding the Pie Cam.
The Pie Coaster
The show also featured a Pie Coaster, a miniature rollercoaster that saw the audience member crash through several What Would You Do Banners before going head first into a huge pie standing on its side. The coaster was designed so that the rider would go through the pie back and forth a few times. It was the most impressive of the contraptions as far as scale, but arguably the least messy thanks to all the protective gear that had to be worn.
The Pie Pendulum
Some episodes in the first season featured the Pie Pendulum. The Pie Pendulum was a board that someone was attached to with their face hanging over the end. They were then slowly lowered into a giant bowl of whipped cream every time they got a question wrong about a family member.
Pie in the Sky
Pie in the Sky was a contraption made up of three bowls stacked on top of each other above an audience member’s head. The audience member was then asked five questions about a family member and with each wrong answer a crank was pulled. The first crank released the pie filling into the second bowl, the second crank into the third bowl, and the third crank released all three bowls worth of pie filling onto the audience member’s head.
In Pie Roulette, audience members placed their chin on a table facing a spring loaded pie. They rolled a dice and then had to turn a crank the same number of times that they rolled on the dice. If the crank hit a certain number the pie would go flying into their face. I was doing a little research and it turns out that this game is very similar to the popular board game Pie Face Game.
What Would You Do Medley
Some of the episodes featured the What Would You Do Medley which consisted of taking audience members and fixating index cards to their foreheads. On the card were random activities like, “Eat a hamburger with honey,” “Walk on eggs,” or show a “Hidden Talent.” The audience member was given a choice to either do what was on the card (which they could not see) or enter the Pie Pod.
The Wall O’ Stuff
The Wall of Stuff was a large wall that featured crazy designed doors that could be opened with a token that was awarded for winning a challenge or having your number selected via a lottery. The audience member got to choose what door they wanted and once it opened they could win a prize like a shirt, watch, or water bottle, or sometimes they got a pie in the face or a card telling them to go to one of the pie contraptions.
Every episode of What Would You Do was random and the use of park goers as the audience/contestants worked out well. While revisiting this show as of late, I realize the one thing that makes it all work is Marc Summers. He’s genuine and that authenticity works with both the viewer and the audience. He’s given a difficult task in selecting random audience members and working with unpredictable skits, pranks, and equipment, but he makes it look easy. He’s fun, warm, and inviting, but also in control. He set the bar high for all authority type figures and hosts for the rest of our lives. No one quite reaches the total package like Marc Summers, at least in my life.
I was thrilled last year when Double Dare’s 30th Anniversary came around and Nickelodeon decided to cash in on the 80’s and 90’s nostalgia and honor the show. Marc Summers, Robin, and Harvey from Double Dare gave interviews and Nick even revived the show at the San Diego Comic Con. A reunion show was filmed and broadcast very successfully on Nick at Night. The fan interest in Double Dare has brought up the possibility of Marc Summers hosting a new Double Dare, possibly on Nick at Night with adults in the future.
It’s wonderful that Marc Summers got some recognition during the 30th anniversary. He was such a vital component to so many of our childhoods in the 80’s and 90’s and he deserves of way more credit than he gets. If Nickelodeon ever created a hall of fame, Marc Summers should be the first inductee. The man truly is in a class above everyone else.
Recently, Marc Summers has been on tour with a documentary that was filmed about him called On Your Marc. The film looks fantastic and I can’t wait to see it. I really hope they continue touring with the film in 2018 and come somewhere close to North Carolina so I can attend. You can see the trailer below: