Despite being stuck in quarantine, comedy duo Matt Rogers and Dave Mizzoni are keeping mobile—literally.
Originated in 2017 as a monthly live event in Los Angeles, their irreverent, hysterical, and very extra Quibi series Gayme Show! sees two hetero men compete for the enviable title of “Queen of the Straights” by navigating ridiculous challenges. Some must make a grand runway entrance; others must perform an interpretive dance. All of them get help (and that’s using the term loosely) from a hunty celebrity “life partner.”
Part of the mobile short-form content platform’s very queer original lineup, the show has offered new episodes daily (there are eight this season running at a breezy seven or so minutes each). “Life partners” include Trixie Mattel, Bob the Drag Queen, Joel Kim Booster, Bonding’s Brendan Scannell, Nicole Byer, Ilana Glazer, Rachel Bloom, and politics podcast host Jon Lovett.
Mizzoni and Rogers—who also co-hosts the weekly Las Culturistas podcast with Saturday Night Live’s Bowen Yang—caught up with NewNowNext to spill some tea about the series, Yang’s nude Instagram story, Grindr profiles in the age of isolation, and why Survivor is still the horniest show on TV.
Would you use the words “arbitrary” and “irreverent” to describe Gayme Show! and its judging process?
Matt Rogers: I would go further and call it straight-up dumb! I think this show revels in its irreverence and how foolish it all is. If you watch the show you’ll see we’re not even keeping score. We’re throwing numbers out there if we like or don’t like something. It’s a space to be dumb, fun, and gay, and I hope everyone knows it was made by queer people, for queer people, with our interests in mind. If you don’t want to take things too seriously, we are a soft place for you to land.
Dave Mizzoni: I agree completely. Subjectivity is a very queer thing. We love talking and arguing and being subjective about who’s right and who’s wrong, and that’s the world we establish for the straight guys from the very top of the show.
MR: Keeping score is heteronormative and [represents] the patriarchy.
Was it easy to enlist the show’s celebrity life partners?
DM: Nobody said no except for Cher.
MR: It wasn’t that she said no. She didn’t get back.
DM: Matt’s right. It wasn’t a hard no. Tweet @Cher!
Have any straight celebrities asked to compete?
MR: We’re happy with the straights we’ve had on the show, but I would issue a public challenge to John Mulaney right here and now to be on. I’d love it if John and Nick Kroll would face off to see who is Honorarily Gay AF.
DM: I want Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to surrender his body and soul to us for 7.5 minutes. When you make something a competition for straight guys, like with Lip Sync Battle, they will compete and give it their all and go full ham.
Have any Gayme Show! challenges, live or in the series, gone totally awry?
MR: We had one game called “Respect Kirsten,” which is basically straight people saying as many things as they can that should be respected about the criminally underappreciated actress Kirsten Dunst in a short amount of time. One said, “She has a fucked-up tooth, and I respect that she kept it fucked-up and didn’t get it fixed.” I was like, “What did you say about my icon? I probably would have said she was amazing in Bring It On, but you do you, girl.”
DM: We’re so lucky to have had a long time to try out so many different games. We were figuring out ways to make it extremely active—we didn’t want it to revolve around celebrity knowledge or seeing particular films. It was more singing or performing or reading a scene, and the games that were successful were the most active for everyone involved.
MR: The interpretive dance challenge “Notice Me Father” is one of our favorites. It evokes a very funny trope that we in the queer community can relate to, which is seeking our father’s approval. Making light of that is a way of having everyone laugh together.
DM: But we both have wonderful fathers!
Have either of you tried to get on a big Hollywood game show like Jeopardy!?
MR: I actually was on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? about three years ago, and speaking of aggro straight guys, the host, Chris Harrison, gave me one of those aggressive handshakes that says “I’m a straight dude.” I was like, Okay, girl, you need to come on our game show and be knocked down a peg. He really was very aggressive.
Is it good or bad timing that the Quibi launch and your show’s premiere happened during this pandemic?
MR: Well, the aim of the show still stands. Quibi was designed to give people breaks in their day, whether during a stressful subway ride or while waiting in traffic. Actually, no, you shouldn’t be on your phone in your car…
DM: When you have 15 minutes before your doctor’s appointment or you’re waiting for a meeting to start, you can insert our show into your day in an organic way. And I hope when people are spending time with loved ones and want 10 minutes alone to laugh, this is for that.
How do you like Quibi’s new phone-screen-designed format?
MR: I think it’s really interesting to see which shows are adapting better than others. I’m a really big fan of Nicole Richie’s show Nikki Fre$h and Singled Out, hosted by Keke Palmer and our dear friend and sister Joel Kim Booster. There’s a lot of stuff on there working, and I hope people give it a chance, because it’ll really pop off when we’re able to get back to our normal lives and can watch it on the go as intended.
Matt, you’re releasing new episodes of Las Culturistas. Does Bowen Yang still appreciate when people write “destroy me, king” on his Instagram or DM him in reference to his SNL Sara Lee skit?
MR: He’s never going to be over it. You cannot call Bowen “king” enough, but I suggest you follow up on these DMs and take the man out for a fucking drink when this is all over, because a lot of you get real brave in your DMs and then aren’t down to take it a step further. So, what I’m saying is: Fuck my best friend!
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I think it’s about time you listen to this week’s episode of LC, sweaty. It’s @aidybryant in the damn seat and there are moments of beautiful song, beautiful impressions, beautiful LOVE! We can’t help but be floofin’… through the roofin’… over such a legend. Please provide in the comments the names of notable local jingles from your adolescence.
Bowen Yang (left) and Matt Rogers with Las Culturistas guest Aidy Bryant.
Bowen had a nude Insta thirst pic up briefly before he took it down. I’m surprised he’s not getting some real-time meets!
MR: He looked so good! He’s doing the right thing now and keeping it really tight and buff, and meanwhile I ordered Taco Bell at 9:30pm last night, and the best part of my day was finding out it would be there by 10. That’s where I’m at, but I’m glad my girl looks good.
What’s the best Grindr profile you’ve seen since the quarantine began? I’ve seen claims of “No Corona,” which is the new “DDF.”
MR: We’re both in relationships, but I’m on Grindr and am shocked that people are still asking people to come over. It’s crazy! I understand we’re all horny, but you can’t actually be meeting up. That would go against the greater good right now. It’s the activity I’m concerned about, but what are you gonna do?
DM: I’ve been in a relationship for five years and am busy at home figuring out what to stuff my red peppers with. That’s my bag.
What have you been bingeing during the pandemic besides Tiger King?
MR: We both can simultaneously say we’re so fucking obsessed with Survivor. We’re watching all the old seasons, and in the past two weeks I’ve watched seven seasons and Dave has watched almost that much. It’s so fucking good, and it’s also the horniest show on TV.
DM: We’re in the Cook Islands, honey. We are in Panama, Brazil, China. It’s a lot of dicks flopping around in underwear, spearing fish. It’s exactly what I want right now: to watch people in a worse situation than me, but they win a million dollars.
If you were chosen to be on Survivor, what item from home would you bring?
MR: Good question. I might bring a stuffed animal. I have a Porg that I got at Disney’s Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Or maybe a notebook to be able to write down things and remember stuff.
DM: I’m going to be really simple and just say lube. You never know! An earlier version of me would absolutely have been the one to have sex on reality television. I tried to be on MTV’s The Real World maybe six times. I wanted the blurred crotch.
MR: David’s not playing to win Survivor here.
DM: I’m bringing lube! I’m making real allies. You’re bringing a Porg or a notebook?
If you get to make a second season of Gayme Show!, would you like Joe Exotic’s formerly toothless ex-husband, John Finlay, to be a contestant?
DM: No! He’s queer bait! Queer-baiting is a crime and should be punishable by death!
Do you two ever argue about the merits of Tiger King?
MR: I can say Dave had his hair bleached, and now because of quarantine he can’t get his hair cut, and he’s started to look like Joe Exotic, and I took issue with that.
DM: Yes, I did look like Joe Exotic a bit, but while he’s a questionable human being and an animal abuser, he is the fashion icon of 2020. Our opening look in Episode 1 is full leopard. I’m wearing a leopard blazer, which we didn’t know would be extremely timely now.
Gayme Show! is currently streaming on Quibi.