Very few MTV reality "stars" have successfully made the transition from drunken college kid to respected entertainment personality (does anybody know what happened to Tonya from Real World: Chicago?). For Theo Von, however, moving past frat-bro fame started with making a choice.
"You know, they kept calling me for those Challenge shows and eventually I had to tell them no," says Von, who was part of the Road Rules cast back in 2000. "It's tough saying no because it's a good paycheck and you can be a college kid forever, but I had other goals I wanted to accomplish and I knew I needed to move on."
Turns out Von made the right choice. He was recently chosen by Howie Mandel to host the new TBS prank-gameshow Deal With It, hosts Yahoo's daily TV recap show, and has become one of the brightest up-and-comers in standup comedy. This weekend, the Road Rules alumni will be performing two nights at the Mystic Lake Comedy Club. Before he visits the casino, we sat down with the former Challenge champion to talk about crank texts, The Miz, and when reality TV goes too far.
You're no stranger to Minnesota, right?
No, I've actually been here quite a bit. I've come here for shows, but then I also have a friend from when I did Road Rules, Dan Setzler, who lives in Apple Valley, so I've come to visit him. Oh, and way back when Randy Moss played for you guys I came out there for a fishing tournament. I've seen a lot, man.
You just started hosting Deal With It on TBS this past month. How did you hook up with Howie Mandel?
Howie is like a superhero to me. He loves pranking, and he knew that I was into pranking from my crank texts website, so it was just a good fit.
How has that experience been, being on the other side of the camera?
It's been a little weird. The whole point of the show is we get someone to mess with their friend or spouse or whatever, and they win money if they keep pushing it. I've had a couple of moments that I'll sort of cringe and think that we should pull the cord, but part of what makes the show great is just sitting back and letting it play out. People have gotten pretty heated while we're messing with them, but so far everything has worked out. At the end of the show everyone is always hugging, and for me anything that ends in hugs is okay.
Going back to what you were saying about crank texts, is your website [www.cranktexts.com] still something you're working on?
Yeah absolutely. I've been a little quiet on it lately because we're doing some redesigns, but everything on there is completely true. I've randomly texted over 30,000 phone numbers and had some hilarious conversations.
And people really text you back?
Yeah man. I mean, I might have to text 200 numbers a message that says, "Hey, it's Allison from high school," but eventually I'll get someone who texts me back and we're going.
How many numbers do you have to text before you get someone to respond?
I'd say three out of every 10 will at least answer like, "Who is this?" But then probably one out of every 200 will actually turn into something funny. But when you get someone going it's hilarious. This really is the new crank calling, because good luck getting anyone to pick up a phone anymore.Have you ever been crank texted?
funny thing is that I get crank texted all the time now. Fans or
friends or whoever -- I honestly don't know who it is -- they'll get my
number and start texting me. It seems like they always say it's a girl,
too. And you know what? I fall for it every time. For some reason, if
you get a man to believe a woman is texting him, he'll fall for it. I've
had people keep me going for like two months at a time. But I can't
really get mad because I started it, you know?
You're one of the few MTV reality stars who have gone on to have a successful career post-MTV. What made you turn that corner?
the guy who really inspired me was The Miz. He wanted to be a WWE
wrestler, and everyone told him he that he was just some MTV degenerate.
Dude; that guy went on to be the frickin' champion of the world and
wrestling at Wrestlemania. I saw him and was like, "If he can do it, I
can too." I'll tell you what though: Not a day goes by when I don't
think about climbing up a pirate net with oatmeal in my shorts, trying
to win a Playstation. That stuff was fun.
IF YOU GO:
7:00 & 9:30 p.m.
Mystic Lake Comedy Club
2400 Mystic Lake Blvd., Prior Lake, MN