TBS has great new game show out there called “Trust Me, I’m a Game Show Host.” This show takes a fun and new approach to break out of the standard game show mold. The contestants have to contend with a pair of dueling hosts determined to deceive them at every turn.

Comedians D.L. Hughley and Michael Ian Black are the hosts of the show, who are looking to trick the contestants. TBS did a phenomenal job of casting two hilarious hosts. Both of them present the contestant with an odd and highly unlikely fact. One of the statements is true and the other is false. The contestant must decide which fact is correct in order to win money on the show.

Michael Ian Black was kind enough to take some time to chat about the show, lying, and who he would like to see as a contestant on “Trust Me, I’m a Game Show Host.”

Art Eddy: How did you become involved with the show?

Michael Ian Black:  Well, I got a call asking if I would be interested in hosting a game show. I was initially like, not really, but when they explained the concept to me, which is that it is as much a comedy show as it is a game show where two contestants try to, well not try to fool anybody, but one of us is telling a lie and one of us is telling the truth and the contestant has to figure out who’s doing what.

What I understood that it was as much about making people laugh as it is about imparting information, then I thought it sounded interesting and when they told me that D.L. was involved, I thought it sounded like a great idea.

AE: Watching the show it seems that you and DL have a really good rapport. It seems like the contestants are, even though they’re playing for money, at ease because they’re having a good time. Did you kind of feel that as well?

MIB: Yeah, there’s a couple reasons for that. One, DL and I really do get along. We didn’t know each other before this, but we’ve become friends working on it and we have a kind of easy rapport I think because we’re both comedians and we know a lot of the same people and we’ve had a lot of the same experiences. So that’s fun, and he’s very fast and very smart and very funny, and he keeps me on my toes.

I think for the contestants, I think they are having a good time. It’s not, you know, the money you can win on the show is a fair amount of money. You can win up to $35,000 but it’s not like, it’s not going to change anybody’s life. It’s not like, “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire”, where if somebody wins a million bucks, that’s life-changing money. For us, it’s more about having fun and winning some money that would be great.

AE: Has anybody every told you if you have any kind of tells when it comes to lying? Have you had to work on anything like that?

MIB: Yeah, in some of the episodes people think they’ve picked up on them, and in particular I think it was a cop who is like, you do this when you’re lying and he was just wrong. It did not give me a lot of confidence in our law enforcement capabilities.

AE: Have you tried to up the ante a little bit by bringing in the people that maybe can detect that kind of stuff, maybe like poker players?

MIB: Oh yeah, we had a poker player on the show. I don’t remember how well he did, but it wasn’t great. It wasn’t great. I think the people who are most confident in their ability to spot tells or learn to snuff out when somebody is lying tend to do the worst.

AE: Have you and D.L. had any kind of rapport as far as how you’re going to go about attacking these people with your questions and information?

MIB: No, because we’re competing against each other, too. You know there’s no money at stake for D.L. and I, but we both want to be picked. We both want to be convincing in whether we are telling the truth or telling a lie. We’re not strategizing against the contestants. If I’m telling the truth I want the contestant to pick me. If I’m lying I want the contestant to pick me, but we also just want everybody to have a good time. Ultimately I do want people to win money. I feel kind of bad when they suck at the show. I want them to walk out of there with something.

AE: Do you feel good about your acting prowess when somebody picks you and you’re completely lying?

MIB: Oh yeah, nothing’s more satisfying. Nothing makes me happier than when I’ve just delivered the biggest lie in the world and they pick me.

AE: How much room do you guys have to improv while you’re taping the show?

MIB: Well, it’s all improvisational. Nothing is planned beyond the reading of the questions and the actual game play. Neither D.L. nor I have a hand in writing the questions. We’re only responsible for being funny. There’s times when, if I have time to really look at the question and think of some jokes I will, but there’s a lot of time where you just don’t and you just have to go by the seat of your pants. I tend to find that the funniest moments just happen off the cuff anyway.

It’s a combination. What you’re seeing on the show is an edited down version of what we shot. We probably shoot 45 minutes to an hour per episode that you end up seeing 22 minutes of, so a lot of snips get lost in the edit room. None of the questions do and not of the important game play aspects do, but a lot of the comedy does, which is nice for us because we can just keep going. It doesn’t matter so if we find something fun to talk about, we talk about it. If makes the cut, that’s great. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.

AE: Who’s your favorite game show host of all time?

MIB: I’m trying to separate host from shows because my favorite show was “Jokers Wild.”

AE: Nice. So would it be Wink Martindale.

MIB: I can’t say that. Wink Martindale was the host on my favorite game show, but he is not my favorite host. Favorite host? I guess, I mean it’s hard not to go with Bob Barker. I’ll go with Bob Barker, or the other guy that I liked was Peter Marshall. He seemed kind of like a drunk as I’m thinking about it.

AE: You’ll see sometimes different games shows now, will have celebrities come out and play for their charities. Do you guys ever think about doing that and if you did, who would you love to have on the show to see if you can pull some fast ones over on?

MIB: Well, an idea that I had, that I still think is a good idea and they tell me, maybe we will do it at some point is that D.L. and I are actually throughout the season playing for charity where every time we get picked money goes to one of our charities so it raises the stakes for us in terms of wanting to be picked. I still hope we get to do something like that. If we bring on celebrities I’d love to bring on the most pompous celebrities we can find and see how adept they are at figuring out who’s lying and who’s telling the truth. Journalist, politicians, you know, people like that.

AE: Like a Bill O’Reilly type in it?

MIB: Bill O’Reilly would be fantastic. Make him look like a total ass that would be the hope. It would suck if he was great at it.

AE: We all know you from your improv days as well. You’ve been with some amazing troops, “The State” being one, “Stella” being another and it’s definitely helped you, I would say in this show, but has there been anything that you learned from back then that just not apply at all to what you’re doing now? Is there anything new that you’re learning when it comes to improv?

MIB: It’s interesting. All of those skills do come into play with a show like this where you really do need to, the main thing with improvisational comedy is just listening and making sure that you’re not trying to steal the spot light. If you have something to say you say it, but you’re also trying to give other people room to maneuver. I think that’s been one of the nice things about working with D.L.

I think we have a good sense of how to support each other and that is sort of the nature of improvisational comedy. It definitely comes into play. There are things that really don’t. There’s such a strict architecture of game shows that you have to follow because there’s money at stake and that’s sort of the precise opposite of what improvisational comedy is. Being able to combine those two things can be, it’s not tricky, but it just requires a new skill set.

AE: Is it difficult when there is less people you have to improv with?

MIB: No, in a lot of ways it’s easier because it’s just like playing tennis. You just hit the ball back and forth. With more people it actually gets a little more complicated.

“Trust Me, I’m a Game Show Host” airs on TBS Tuesday at 10:30 PM EST.

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