April 5, 2019

It is hard to believe now, but the Nickelodeon Network celebrated 40 years on the air this past week on Monday, April 1. Seven years later, in 1986, the network debuted one of its most popular game shows ever with “Double Dare,” a program that combined trivia with “messy stunts and physical challenges.”

Not only was “Double Dare” the network’s first game show, it is still is lauded as Nickelodeon’s longest-running game show. The 2000 re-do of the program brought together both adult contestants along with the usual kid contestants. Recently, the “Double Dare” TV show was revived in 2018.

Late last year, the idea was hatched to take “Double Dare” on the road as a live event. That was tried years ago with much success as the production filled up 16,000-seat arenas at times. This time around, however, smaller venues are the focus because it gives “Double Dare” a more intimate setting and involves a higher percentage of the audience members. And, that is why Huntington and the Big Sandy Superstore Arena were chosen for this 2019 “Double Dare Live” tour.

“Double Dare Live” comes to the Big Sandy Superstore Arena this Saturday, April 6, at 7:30 p.m. Kids of all ages are, of course, welcome to join in on the fun.

More information and ticket purchases can be made at bigsandyarena.com or 304696-5990, ext 3503. “Double Dare” Live is billed as “The Messiest Game Show on the Road.” Hosting the live production will be original “Double Dare” TV host Marc Summers.

As with the TV program, the “Double Dare Live” show will feature “slime soaking, pie plastering and booger busting.”

“I hosted the show for eight years back in the 1980s and ’90s and when we brought the show back to TV last year, we decided to take it out on the road, never thinking anybody would care about it,” Summers said.

“So, we took the live version out for about 15 shows in late 2018 and it worked. Now, we are booked for 70 dates this year. As someone said when we sold out in Boston a while ago, ‘It is like the TV show, only better.’”

As with the TV program, “Double Dare Live” makes the audience a part of the antics.

“In the first half of the show, we pick about 40 people out of the audience and we do physical challenges and do competitions with the parents against the kids,” said Summers. “In the second half of the show, we do a game that was on another Nickelodeon program called ‘What Would You Do,’ where we bring up about eight people and play musical games and pie them in various forms. Then, we take four families and pare them down to two and we play ‘Double Dare’ like we do on TV. We run the obstacle course and do trivia and someone is going home with $1,000 in cash in their pocket. Everybody in the audience is into it the whole time because they never know when they will be called onstage to participate.”

With “Double Dare” being popular over two decades ago, both kids and their parents get excited about being a part of this event.

“Now, it is two generations that come to the shows,” said Summers. “Moms and dads that show up have kids that are the same age as they were when they watched the show on TV. And, in my opinion, let me tell you: Many times the parents have a better time than the kids when they get onstage. The fact is, a lot of family shows are for really younger kids, like ‘Paw Patrol’ and ‘Dora the Explorer.’ But ‘Double Dare’ is for everybody and it works on two levels. The parents have a good time and the kids have a good time.”

Summers’ rise in the broadcasting industry was done in an old-school way. A native of Indianapolis, he did all kinds of work in show business to build up his chops and to get his foot in the door. Summers spent time on the road and in Los Angeles as a stand-up comedian — making it onto “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” — as a radio DJ and he even worked as a page at various popular TV shows that were broadcast in the 1970s.

It was while working as a page on the TV show “Truth or Consequences” that Summers met TV hosting legend Bob Barker. Eventually, Barker hired Summers as a writer, and the rest is history.

Because Summers was lucky enough to have mentors during his career, he has also tried to do the same with young talent that has asked him for advice along the way.

“I was watching an old ‘Merv Griffin Show’ one time on TV and it was an hour with Bob Hope, the movie and TV legend,” said Summers. “Merv asked Bob, ‘If you could point to one person who made your career, who would it be?’ Bob pointed to himself and said, ‘You know what, nobody out there would give me any help. I had to do it on my own.’

“It was then that I thought to myself, ‘If I’m ever lucky enough to make it, I am going to help people.’ Over the years, I have had three really great students, and they were Ryan Seacrest (Emmy Award-winning producer and host of ‘American Idol’), Guy Fieri (Emmy Award-winning TV host on the Food Network) and Robert Irvine, host of the Food Network’s ‘Dinner: Impossible’ and other shows. Those are three guys that I got to help with their careers, and we are still friends today. It is a good feeling.”