Rove McManus: The studio itself is almost like an arena. You can always see the audience on camera, so it’s very much a kind of gladiatorial atmosphere. The sets move and slide and give unique camera angles for strange perspectives. Basically, we set it up to be as difficult as it can be for the improvisers to try to keep things going.
Zap2it: What does that setup mean for you as the host?
Rove McManus: I feel like an evil ringmaster! At some point, if I choose to, I can throw in a suggestion or demand for our performers to complete. Sometimes, I can be helpful as well.
There’s a game we have called “In the Dark,” where the scene is played out in a room that has no light whatsoever, but we can see what’s happening because we have night-vision cameras. While they’re stumbling over props, I sometimes need to help guide them in a direction to find what they need … but at other times, I like to be the one who pulls the rug out from under them.
Zap2it: You hosted the Australian version of “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” Did that help prepare you for this?
Rove McManus: The real benefit for me is in coming from stand-up comedy, then from a talk show background. The ability to think on your feet is a skill I have learned over the years.
“Riot” premieres Tuesday, May 13 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Fox.