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Henson upstaged by 'Wipeout' balls?

Hollywood Wrap with George Pennacchio
June 3, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
John Henson, the host of the reality pain-fest Wipeout on ABC, sat down to talk to entertainment reporter George Pennacchio of ABC in Los Angeles, and the conversation quickly veered into juvenile - and hysterical - territory.Henson was joined by the show's mascot, Ballsy. The mascot is named for the infamous portion of the obstacle course where the contestants try to hop from ball to ball en route to the finish line. Of course, hardly anyone succeeds, which leads to spectacular pratfalls.

"I have to grow accustomed to the fact that now sometimes when I'm walking down the street, someone yells out, 'big balls," Henson told George with a straight face. "At first I had to see my tailor, and I was disappointed to learn they were talking about the show."

You have to watch the video to hear Henson discuss Ballsy in a way that would make Alec Baldwin proud.

So how did Henson, who became well-known on "Talk Soup" for mocking reality shows like this, end up starring on "Wipeout?"

"I got to be honest, it was part of my parole," Henson deadpanned. "It wasn't something that I wanted to do, it was court-ordered, and here we are. I'm a free man!"

Henson may have expected the show to be a summertime lark, but the show is a big hit in more than 20 countries and has become its own cottage industry.

George asked if the success has given the host any new opportunities.

"I actually did get a special offer to stay at Bally's in Vegas for three nights for two days. And I don't know if you get that kind of thing," Henson said.

Henson also had advice for parents of fans of the show.

"If your kids wants to build a home 'Wipeout' course, I'm going to tell you right now, get them to sign a waiver," Henson advised. "Because children are very litigious. I can show you the template we have. Our waiver, we don't even go by number of pages, we go by inches. We go with a six-inch waiver. It's like a phone book."

When asked if there are segments of the show that don't make the air, Henson was quick to correct George.

"George, you have a fundamental flaw in your logic here. You're assuming we would look at something and say, 'That's too bad to show.' When we see something like that, we say, 'We got to get this on the air immediately. We should lead with this, we should show it in replays six times," Henson said. "There is nothing like that that gets left on the cutting room floor. The people who get left on the cutting room floor are the people who don't wipe out spectacularly.

"We accomplish things with the human spine that previously only the good people of Wetzels Pretzels have done," Henson said.

As for the show and its success, Henson says he is grateful and happy with where he is and what he's doing.

"As a comedian, this is tee-ball," Henson said. "I mean, it doesn't get any easier for a comic than doing what I do."

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