Comedian Ben Gleib is best known for his brutally funny back-and-forth banter with Chelsea Handler on Chelsea Lately. Tonight he steps up as host of GSN’s new game show, Idiotest. We talked to Ben about the new show, why he and Chelsea are the Ross and Rachel of late night TV and his strip club adventures with David Arquette.
OKMagazine.com: I just watched a couple of the Idiotest clips and I feel super dumb, frustrated and completely hooked on this show.
Ben Gleib: Good! That is what we’re trying to do. We are the crack of game shows. It’s a very different kind of game show because most shows just test trivia and you either know the fact or you don’t. But this show gives you a brain puzzle to figure out, so you’re really testing your brain and trying to solve the puzzle before the other contestants do and see if you’re smarter or dumber than they are.
OKMagazine.com: Before they started playing the game with contestants did you try some out some of the puzzles on your own?
BG: I play every single game, all the tests per episode, I play it by myself. I have the producers challenge me to all the tests backstage so I can experience what it’s like for the contestants to experience those questions. I can then understand how their logic might be going and I can more so understand how to best make fun of them when they get them wrong.
OKMagazine.com: As host, do you console the contestants when they get a puzzle wrong or make fun of them? Or does it really depend on what your experience was with that particular puzzle?
BG: Yeah true. If it’s one that I fell for as well, I might be a little bit more sympathetic to their needs. But unlucky for them, I get most of the tests right, so I feel an air of superiority that I am more than happy to unleash on them. I gotta make it funny. People aren’t coming on TV trying to win money and also expecting a red carpet treatment. If they’re gonna take some of my money, I’m gonna make sure they’re going through a bit of a challenging experience and that’s not just gonna be on the tests, it’s gonna be psychologically too. I want to let them know they were very stupid for not getting that question right.
OKMagazine.com: Some of these puzzles will make contestants feel dumb because of how easy they should be. What in life shouldn’t make you feel so dumb but totally does?
BG: Oh, in life I feel pretty stupid all the time. I just happen to be pretty good at these tests but in life I feel dumb quite often. I’m always late everywhere I go, I’m the biggest procrastinator in the world. I have terrible posture. People think I’m 5’9″ even though I’m 6’1″ because I never stand up straight. I don’t have a girlfriend and I don’t seem able to sustain a long term relationship but that does not stop me from making fun of people for getting puzzles wrong.
OKMagazine.com: If anything, that only qualifies you more.
BG: I think so too, I’ve got a lot of bitterness that I’m ready to unleash. Plus, I’ve been on Chelsea Lately for 7 years and that show’s ending in a couple weeks. But I’ve endured Chelsea making fun of me and calling me an idiot for so many years, for the better part of a decade now, that I think it’s high time for me to get my revenge. And not revenge directly on her, but I’m using the lessons that Haley Joel Osment taught all of us and I’m paying it forward.
OKMagazine.com: What celebrity would you want to have as a contestant on the show?
BG: I would love to have people who think they’re really smart. I would love to have Alex Trebek on the show, that would be excellent. I would love to have any British actor because they all act like they’re really smart with their smug little accents and their belief that they’re better actors and better than everybody.
OKMagazine.com: I don’t know why but Channing Tatum was the first name I thought of, he might be good at it.
BG: Yeah, I could see him being pretty good at it. Also I would really enjoy Chelsea being on it because then I could get my revenge and see how well she does on these tests.
OKMagazine.com: How does it feel for Chelsea Lately to be coming to an end and do you know anything about her new show?
BG: I don’t think I know really more than anybody else what her new show will be, I don’t know if she even knows yet. I think she wants to take some time to really percolate on that idea. But I think it’s sad that Chelsea Lately is ending. It’s been the best gig of my career hands down, and it has exposed me to such a wide audience. I grew up watching late night talk shows and my favorite part of them was whenever there would be a contentious guest, like on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson or on Letterman. My favorites were when Charles Grodin would go on and argue with Carson or argue with David Letterman. They would have just the funniest, meanest banter back and forth and I always wanted that. I always knew that I could excel in a very heated, insult-heavy environment. And then Chelsea Handler came into my life and I got to do exactly that. I think Chelsea and I had such a fun banter back and forth over the years. I will miss it greatly and yes, people think that she makes fun of me a lot or makes fun of me too much maybe but I think it’s all an underlying unresolved sexual tension that we have never been able to figure out. And I don’t know if we will in these last 2 weeks of her show, but maybe it’s best that we don’t. All the best male-female TV relationships are most exciting when you wonder. I think maybe the 3 most memorable in TV history would be Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis in Moonlighting, Shelley Long and Ted Danson in Cheers and me and Chelsea.
OKMagazine.com: You’re like the Ross and Rachel of late night television.
BG: Yes! I like that even better. Because they hooked up for a long period of time and people actually liked it and were hooked, so that might actually be the best example. If Chelsea’s reading this article: you’ve got 2 more weeks girl, let’s make this happen. I’m a TV host now, and she doesn’t have a show so maybe the power tables have turned. Maybe it will be an aphrodisiac for her.
OKMagazine.com: Did she have any advice for you when it comes to hosting?
BG: She did not have any advice when it came to hosting the show but I did call her when I got the show and she was very happy for me. Her first piece of advice was, ‘Great, maybe now you can move out of your shitty apartment.’ It has not happened yet. I’m waiting to see if we get picked up for a season 2. Hopefully America watches the show even if they don’t like it, just as a fundraiser to help me get a new place.
OKMagazine.com: The prize on this show is $10,000. If someone just handed you that cash, what would be your first instinct to do with it?
BG: Aside from moving, with $10,000, man I would probably go on a really, really expensive vacation because I haven’t taken a full vacation in quite a long time. Or more likely I would do what’s really hip to do with money these days and use it to improve my image around strangers. Basically I would go to a nightclub, I would get $10,000 singles and just for about an hour and a half straight make it rain. And then also quickly pick up whatever people didn’t grab and try to pocket it again because that’s also really bad with money to do that.
OKMagazine.com: I’ve seen people scrambling to pick dollars off the ground when someone makes it rain! It’s cash, you can use it to buy things!
BG: It’s exactly right. I don’t particularly enjoy strip clubs but one day last year I ran into David Arquette and he invited me to join him to go to a strip club and that’s an experience I didn’t feel I could turn down. So I got a bunch of singles from the machine because he was making it rain so I decided I would join him. You know, maybe risk $40, $50 dollars on the experience. And we were standing about 10 feet behind the stage and trying to make it rain or just throwing piles of money towards the stage and it kept falling short and landing on the heads of guys in the front row. So we basically were just making it rain on dudes. And giving our money to dudes that they would then make it rain with, and it seemed economically very, very unintelligent.
OKMagazine.com: That was your very own Idiotest.
BG: It really was and I failed badly. I’ll probably forget and probably just pour it on peoples heads again.
Idiotest airs tonight on GSN at 9 p.m. ET.
What would you do with ten thousand dollars? Do you want to see Ben on Chelsea Handler’s new Netflix show? Tell us in the comments below or on Twitter @OKMagazine.