Mostly, Eichner's approach is running up to New York City pedestrians and asking one off questions with a determined enthusiasm that they have no choice but to match. He screams and berates his contestants all the way through, but always with an excited anticipation of wanting to see them answer correctly. The result is warm, addictive, and more times than not, very, very funny.
Watching New Yorker after New Yorker so quickly surrender to Eichner's rush of questioning is fascinating. Despite (or perhaps because of) his brash approach and casual racial/ethnic/sexuality-insensitivity, you'd be hard pressed to find a contestant who isn't smiling throughout the exchange. Even on-lookers appear to be witnessing something special, not just another guy in front of a camera with a microphone in New York City.
While many of the gun-to-head responses from strangers are hilarious, some of the funnier moments of the show are when Eichner will simply breeze past a contestant for giving an answer he doesn't like (not knowing who Laura Linney is) or for trying to promote their website he doesn't care about. This unpredictability makes it feel as though you're planted right along side Eichner's brain while it fires neurons a mile a minute, deciding what's worthy of attention and what's shit.
Wisely, Billy On The Street separates itself from the much tamer & less entertaining Cash Cab by making the game more about opinion than fact. It's way more fun to hear people have to answer if Celine Dion is 65% bird or to name three movies that don't exist than to watch them wrestle with a Jeopardy daily double. Segment titles like 'Are You Smarter Than A Gay 5th Grader?', 'Rebecca Black or Black Person?', 'Is This A Real Tyler The Creator Lyric?', and 'Quizzed On The Face' speak to this frivolous-on-purpose tone.
One look at any of Fuse's programming outside Billy On The Street and it's easy to see why they're currently engulfed in a Time Warner/MSG packaging scuffle (in which no cable provider wants to pay for the 3rd rate MTV-alternative programming that Fuse currently banks on). With Billy On The Street, Fuse has a chance to diverge from the fleeting 'music channel' ideal and become a unique network with bite, the basic channel equivalent of 20-something comedy aficionado-oriented IFC with some music flavor mixed in for good measure. Luckily, it's a refreshing enough show that it may be strong enough to help steer the network into new (and far better) territory. Wooo!!!
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