Though the premise of the Joe Schmo Show is a breath of fresh air in the over-bloated reality genre, nothing could quite prepare you for the introduction of Mr. Wentworth.
The Joe Schmo Show returned for a third season on Spike after a years-long, self-imposed hiatus. The premise of the series is genius in its simplicity: create a “reality” show where everyone except the mark knows it’s fake. This year’s fake show was “The Full Bounty,” a competition to find America’s Next Top Bounty Hunter. The mark was a guy named Chase, a landscaping specialist from Pittsburgh. The other “contestants” were your various tokens and archetypes of other basic cable reality shows, and Lorenzo Lamas.
Mr. Wentworth was not one of the contestants. Mr. Wentworth was a ventriloquist dummy for Karlee, “the deaf girl.” Whoever came up with the conceit of a deaf ventriloquist deserves a round of applause. Here’s Karlee and Mr. Wentworth in action:
As you can see, even Karlee (actress Jo Newman) can’t keep it together. If the exasperation of the people behind the scenes seems overblown, Karlee did slip a few times during the game, throwing the whole con in jeopardy. Despite this, Chase did not seem to figure the whole thing out until the big reveal.
Though the humor could be sophomoric at times (remember, this is Spike we’re talking about), the execution of the Joe Schmo Show was fascinating to watch. The downside is that we may have to wait a long time before another con could be attempted. Perhaps a Mr. Wentworth spin-off will hold us over in the meantime.