Warner Bros. International Television Production already has one successful hidden camera format in Impractical Jokers, the truTV series that has shopped to 10 territories so far. It now has the chance to create another global winner with Repeat After Me.
The show is inspired by a segment from The Ellen DeGeneres Show that went viral. The clip saw actor Dennis Quaid in a coffee shop doing and saying anything DeGeneres told him via a hidden microphone, and each episode of the resulting series sees three celebrities performing escalating gags.
“The celebrities need to put on the performance of their lives to keep a straight face while repeating utterly absurd lines the host is feeding them,” explains WBITVP’s senior VP, creative, format development and sales Andrew Zein.
In-keeping with the current trend of formats with playful, fun tones at their core, the gags are not designed to be at the expense of the public, Zein adds. “This is not a show about making fun of the public – instead, the comedy comes from the celebrities pushing themselves beyond their comfort zones, and putting on the performance of their lives,” he says.
US broadcaster ABC first ordered the show for a primetime slot, and ratings have been strong, with social media also responding well to the format. Its has featured major stars such as Justin Bieber, Randy Jackson, Usher and Sarah Hyland.
Where other international channels have been anxious about scheduling a series like this in a leading slot before ABC’s commitment and success with Repeat After Me shows that it can be done, and we already have interest from markets who want to do the same,” says Zein.
ABC’s version is studio-based and shiny floor in design, which Zein says makes it stand out from other shows in the hidden mic comedy genre. “We are confident we can have the same levels of success with Repeat After Me as we do with Impractical Jokers, which continues to be a hit in a number of territories,” says Zein.
Being a studio show, he adds, means finding the right host is paramount. In the US, popular actress and comedian Wendi McLendon-Covey (Reno 911, The Goldbergs) fills the spot.
The show: Repeat After Me
The producer: A Very Good Production in association with Warner Horizon Television
The distributor: Warner Bros. International Television Production
The channel: ABC (US)
The concept: Celebs equipped with hidden earpieces perform escalating gags in public