It’s game time this summer on Global TV with a new competition/comedy show, Game On!, premiering on May 27.
Keegan-Michael Key hosts the new sports comedy entertainment show, which is equal parts comedy and game show.
The genre-busting series pits two teams of three — captained by tennis champion Venus Williams and Super Bowl champion Rob Gronkowski, alongside comedians Bobby Lee and Ian Karmel, and rotating sports stars, comedians and celebrities — against each other in over-the-top physical challenges, absurd trivia and field competitions.
READ MORE: Global TV 2020 summer shows — It’s game on
Global News spoke with executive producer James Corden, host Key, and team captains Williams and Gronkowski ahead of the Game On! premiere.
Corden hosts a similar show in the U.K., titled A League Of Their Own, which features two teams comprised of comedians, celebrities and sports stars who compete against each other in a test of their sporting knowledge, taking place over three rounds.
When asked why he wanted to bring this format outside the U.K., Corden said: “I think really that the show runs at home for about 15 seasons. This is probably one of the flagship shows on that network.”
“But the truth, if you start talking about sports and entertainment, that was born in America, the notion of fusing those two things. Venus would tell you that the difference between playing Wimbledon or playing at the U.S. Open in New York is music playing, stuff happening all the time. Whereas Wimbledon is very, very straight and no one wears sponsorship. We kind of thought, well, this show was such a smash in the U.K. so if we could find the right team of people it would be perfect for the U.S.”
Corden said the show was “born out of chemistry and fun and joy.”
Williams and Gronkowski were asked if it’s frustrating, as athletes who are so good at their sports, to do something they know nothing about.
Williams said she “would get really nervous” while filming the show.
“But other than that, it was fun to get outside of your box. And then if you didn’t do well, you could laugh about it. The show is about laughter. It’s about the personalities. It’s about us getting out of our comfort zone,” Williams said.
Gronkowski said: “That’s what the show is all about.”
“It’s unpredictable. It’s fun. It’s hilarious. We never took ourselves too seriously. We love competition, but it wasn’t like that at all. It was more of a fun and joyful atmosphere. But at the same time, I love to have a laugh. And that’s what the show brings,” Gronkowski said.
He added that he “was never frustrated when I didn’t do well because we were out there for the joy of the show.”
Key, who is the host and an executive producer of the show, was asked what attracted him to the project.
“What attracted me to the project was initially the team behind it. I was familiar with the British format, and I’m a big fan of James (Corden),” the Key & Peele star said. “I am also an athletic person and I enjoy competition. I enjoy the rush one gets from competing and playing sports. I’m a sports fan in general and so the fact that this format and the theme of the show would be wrapped around sports was really, really exciting to me.”
Corden, who is an executive producer, will also appear on an episode of Game On!
“It was a really fun episode,” Corden said. “The highlight was when me, Gronk (Gronkowski), Venus and Ian Karmel, who is one of the regular comedians on the show who is incredibly smart, went to the Staples Center and danced with the Lakers Girls during halftime. I think for me and Gronk it was a seminal moment in our friendship.
“The whole show is full of great fun but for me, the highlight of being on the show was that moment. I’ve had a lot of moments in my life where I feel like I’m outside my body thinking I can’t believe I’m doing this.
“But standing in the tunnel at the Staples Center, watching LeBron (James) and all those guys leave the court and standing with Venus Williams and Rob Gronkowski, and we’re all dressed surrounded by, like, Laker Girls, thinking, ‘Right, well, we’re about to go out and do this dance routine.'”
“What an amazing experience it was watching these two people who performed at the absolute pinnacle of their sports in the biggest games of all time, completely terrified at the prospect of messing up a dance routine,” Corden said of Williams and Gronkowski.
Williams revealed that she would want her sister Serena to appear on an episode of the show.
“This would be the first time we’d ever talk trash to each other. That would be like a worldwide debut. We don’t even talk about tennis or sports on or off the court so we got to have her,” she said.
Key said it would be “amazing” to have both Williams sisters on the show but they “would have to be on separate teams.”
“Oh yeah, Serena though, she’s like the toughest one so we could be on the same team. That would be great! She’s the one that’s super strong and I’m really quiet,” Williams said of playing alongside her sister.
Gronkowski said he would love to have Shaquille O’Neal on the show.
“Shaq has that comedy side to him. He also loves to compete. He loves dancing, he loves competition and he loves being the best at whatever he’s doing,” he said. “And when I’m on the football field I tend to be one of the bigger guys on the field and everyone smaller than me is always talking garbage. I want Shaq on the show so I can talk garbage to him because he’s way bigger than me.”
Key asked the group: “Could you imagine a super episode with Serena, Shaq, Floyd Mayweather, Stephen Smith and David Beckham, let’s just throw David Beckham in there.”
Game On! premieres Wednesday, May 27 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Global.