Marc Summers hosted Nickelodeon’s “Double Dare” for about a decade. The popular kid’s trivia show included bizarre — and often messy — physical challenges as well as an elaborate obstacle course. Summers recently performed a one-man stage show about his life that has been turned into a documentary called “On Your Marc,” which will premiere this fall at Alamo Drafthouses around the country. We spoke with him about his OCD, what it was like working on “Double Dare,” and what people can expect in the new film.
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Following is a transcript of the video:
On your mark.
Hi there. My name is Marc Summers. You may know me from “Double Dare.” You may know me from “What Would You Do.” Perhaps you watch the Food Network and watched me do “Unwrapped.”
But I’ve been around for a while.
“Welcome to ‘Double Dare.’ This is the show where we run through a crazy obstacle course, and in the process win 8 fabulous prizes!”
“Double Dare” started on October 6, 1986, in Philadelphia, of all places. They had auditioned 1,000 people in New York, didn’t like anybody, moved to LA. I was the first person to audition, and I got the job.
It was fun. We started off doing 4 shows a day, then 5 shows a day, and we got up to 6 shows in one day. Times 5 days, that was 30 shows a week.
The contestants were chosen by a contestant coordinator — such a great name — who worked in Philadelphia. And the thing that made us distinctive, over anything that was on the Disney Channel, was we used real kids. We didn’t have the blonde-haired, blue-eyed a perfect child. Our kids had acne, and their hair was messed up. And I think the kids at home related more to the people that we had on our show than anything that was currently running on Disney at that time.
“Answer that question or take the physical challenge.”
The big keyword was “physical challenge.” You wanted to take a physical challenge, and the kids at home wanted you to take the physical challenge. And then after that, it was going to the obstacle course. You win 8 obstacles in 60 seconds or less, you go to Space Camp.
“On your mark. Get set. Go!”
Favourite physical challenge of all time on “Double Dare” was “Pies in your Pants.” There was a catapult over here. You’d put a pie down, you’d shoot it up in the air, somebody had clown pants, and they had to catch 3 pies in their pants in 30 seconds or less.
The one thing that I had trouble with physical challenges, was pet food. You see, if you open up a can of dog food, I pretty much lose it. And so they kept trying to get me to do this physical challenge, and as soon as I walked over to the set, and there was all this dog food, I almost lost it. I puked, almost. And I had to go outside, and they had to change the physical challenge.
So here’s the thing I didn’t know when I started “Double Dare,” is I had this little thing called Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Now mine was about neatness and orderliness, but it was a little bit about staying clean and not getting messy. So here I am, age 34, finally got my first show on television. I didn’t know that it involved all this mess.
So people say to me all the time, “Well you must have hated it.” I didn’t. You know, think about it. I’ve been around in LA for about 13 years, it was my first real job on television. So I was happy as hell to have it. And so the slime didn’t bother me in any way, shape, or form. Now, after the show, did I want to get showered and get that stuff off me? Absolutely.
I think you’re always a little OCD if you’ve had it. So I always say I’m 80 per cent cured and 20 per cent every now and then it sneaks back into my life. But very rarely.
James Taylor has a line in the song, “Fortune and fame, such a curious game. Perfect strangers call you by name.” And that’s it. You walk down the street and say “Hey ‘Double Dare’ guy. Hey Marc Summers! Hey Food Network guy!” So, you never get used to it. I can only tell you, it’s never comfortable.
We were in a restaurant not too long ago, and there was a guy who said, “Well, you remember me?” And I went, “Umm… no.” And he goes, “Come on!” And I said, “No.” And he goes, “The Bodacious Tatas?” I went, “What’s that?” “That was our team name.” I said, “Oh, you were on ‘Double Dare’?” “Yah.” He says,”You don’t remember me?” I said, “How old were you?” “11.” “How old are you now?” “30.” “OK, let me figure that out.” “11 to 30, uh yeah, there’s a reason I don’t remember who the heck…” And he got all bent out of shape. He got all angry with me that I didn’t recognise him and the days he was on.
“I’ll be asking you a question. If you don’t know the answer and think the other team doesn’t have a clue, you can dare them to answer it for double the dollars. But be careful, because you can always double dare them back.”
I always wanted to host shows, but I didn’t get my first opportunity until I was 34. Prior to that, I was doing theatre. I always wanted to be on Broadway, in a show. And one thing leads to another, and I was a stand-up comic, and I was a magician, and I was a game show host, and I was the food guy, and then I got hit with a couple of odd things. One was cancer, and the other one was a car accident, where I broke every bone in my face. So I cheated death twice, and I figured, well, if I’m going to do theatre, now is the time.
So I did summer stock about 6 years ago. I played Vince Fontaine in “Grease.” And I met a couple of guys who were young up-and-comers on Broadway. And I talked to them about doing a one-man show. And they wrote it for me, and we performed it last year at a place called Bloomington Playwrights Project in Bloomington Indiana. And then we did the Adirondack Theatre Festival. And we’re now in conversations to take it around the country and also do it Off- Broadway.
So it involves many aspects of my life, prior to “Double Dare,” after “Double Dare,” the Food Network, and everything in between.
And currently there is a documentary coming out. It’s called “On Your Mark,” A little play on words of “Double Dare.”
We just made an arrangement with something called Alamo Drafthouse. These guys have the best movie theatres all around the country. And starting in October/November, we’re going to launch this documentary that was shot behind the scenes of doing a one-man show and everything in between. So should be very interesting.
Here’s a question I get all the time. If they brought “Double Dare” back, would I do it. And the answer is: absolutely. Why not?
We did a 30th Anniversary show that aired last Thanksgiving. It got huge numbers.We did a live Facebook thing. I still do appearances around the country. There’s no reason not to.
I did it from ’86 to about ’96. And then it ran in reruns til about 2000. Somebody else tried it for a short time. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out for them.
For whatever reason, I’m always thought of as the guy who hosted that program. There are constant conversations going on about bringing the show back. Will it happen? I don’t know.
“When you hear this sound… it means the game is over.”
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