If you’re a football lover, prepare to have “Adam Ruins Everything” change everything you believe about the sport. From concussions to hydration to the Super Bowl, Adam Conover is about to tell you all the really terrible truths about America’s favorite past time.
Zap2it spoke with Conover about the creative process that goes into “ruining” things, as well as what we can expect from upcoming episodes.
Zap2it: What does the process of ruining something look like — from research to the final episode? The ‘TSA’ episode comes to mind.
Adam Conover: The one with the TSA was one I’d known for a long time and always bothered me when I went through the line at airport security. One of the reasons we did that was I think a lot of people feel similarly. It was kind of low-hanging fruit in that, people are already pretty annoyed by it. You stand in line thinking, “Does this really do anything? Does this really work?”
So we had a general idea, we knew generally that it didn’t work and that it was a bad form of security, and I had been familiar with Bruce Snyder’s work, who was the expert we had on that episode, and the concept of security theater.
From there, we start researching in more depth and tried to find more facts and details that help our case … So we get Bruce on the phone, get his feedback and sort of fold that into the script, then of course we have to write all the jokes and figure out where the characters are going to be and what sort of emotional journey our characters are going to go on because that’s a big part of the show too.
Why do you think people respond so much to shows like this that sort of entertain while educating?
Well, I think that curiosity is a natural human trait, I think that everyone is curious, and I think that everybody loves to learn. It’s really funny that we often don’t think of ourselves as being people who love learning because you think of school as being a horrible place. It’s really a shame that people go through school being upset and bored by it, when in reality, everybody does have a love of learning in them. It is simply fun to learn this stuff. Not enjoying learning is like not enjoying music. There are very few people on the planet who don’t enjoy it at all.
The thing is that people are busy. They don’t have a lot of free time, or they don’t have the will power on this or that day to go read a work of non-fiction or a book or something like that. So we sort of view the purpose of the show as bringing that fascinating information to people who want to hear it and making it more accessible.
I mean, John Oliver’s show came out right as we were developing this show, right after we made the pilot for this show, and it was a really wonderful confirmation because we were just starting to work on this. We were like “Oh, wow, there really is an appetite for this kind of thing on television.” His topics are dryer and more technical than ours — which I say as a compliment — and people love watching them.
Do you have any personal favorite topics you’ve ruined?
I’m incredibly proud of our season finale last year — the death episode. Our goal was to tackle a very difficult topic, and the comedic engine of the show is to make people confront uncomfortable truths. The most uncomfortable truth of all is that you are going to die one day. People know that, but they don’t really believe it.
We wanted to make a half-hour of TV that makes the viewer understand and fully comprehend that they will die one day. That’s a very risky thing to do because people might turn the television off because it’s a very core fear for a lot of people. But the response to the episode has been so overwhelmingly positive. I’ve had so many people tweet at me and say “This episode really helped me confirm my fear of death and get over it, and I’m less afraid of dying now that I’ve seen it” or “My mother died recently and this really helped me get over her death.”
It’s a wonderful thing, and it really validates my core belief that it’s always better to know more and to look these truths straight on.
How worried should football fans be about your next episode, “Adam ruins football?”
We do a number of different topics in that one. We start kind of light and get more serious as we go on. We get into myths about hydration … but the main topic of the episode is about brain injuries in football. The thing we really wanted to get across is there’s all this talk about concussions in football … but the topic we really didn’t see discussed on television was the fact that concussions are a very small part of the problem. There are these sub-concussive hits every time players collide, and those add up over time which is what causes CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy).
The fact is, playing football for any length of time on any level results in irreversible brain damage. It’s a wonderful sport that many people love, but that’s the fact of the matter, and children shouldn’t play football.
You guys have had awesome cameos so far, can you tease any more guests coming in Season 2?
I don’t want to spoil it, but our Christmas episode has a really awesome cameo. It’s a very secret, surprise guest, who people will be very happy to see, and especially happy to see in the same show as me. Let me put it that way.
Tell us about your tour coming up and how that wraps into your upcoming election special.
It’s a 15 city tour, and I’m really excited for it. The tour is going to be an election-themed show, where I’m doing an hour of all new material about the history of the election, weird presidential history and stuff about the political process that a lot of people don’t know. After we tour that across the country and give everyone a sneak peek at it, we’re going to tape it — and that’s going to be the election special we’re doing for truTV.
It’s full of a lot of mind-blowing information that people have no idea about, regarding how our political system works. It’s really going to open a lot of minds, and I’m very proud that it’s a show that anybody of any political persuasion can watch and really enjoy.
“Adam Ruins Everything” airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on truTV.