For Billy Eichner, his time 'On the Street' got him an Emmy nom
Billy Eichner has had recent roles in Hulu's Difficult People, Netflix's Friends from College, and in the upcoming season of American Horror Story on FX. But it's through his truTV game show, Billy on the Street, that he's in the Emmy race. He tells us about the evolution of his person-on-the-street antics and why not every celebrity is a good fit for the show.
For years, comedian Billy Eichner has been interrogating strangers on the streets of New York about pop culture in exchange for ridiculous prizes -- often with a celebrity in tow. All his badgering has paid off. This year, truTV's Billy on the Street scored its first Emmy nomination for Outstanding Variety Sketch Series. Eichner explains why he won't tell any of his celebrity guests what will be asked of them ahead of time -- not even then-First Lady Michelle Obama.
Photo: Billy Eichner (C) hits the streets of Manhattan with Jon Hamm in Season 5 of truTV's Billy on the Street
The host and creator of Billy on the Street is Billy Eichner, who is -- in real life -- not as intense as his persona on the show, though the obsession with pop culture is real. Aside from convincing celebrities to join him for person-on-the-street bits, Eichner also puts celebrity guests through elaborate obstacle courses -- like one in which Rachel Dratch was called upon to re-enact Leah Remini’s Escape from Scientology.
When Eichner’s not asking strangers random questions -- like, do gay people care about John Oliver? -- he’s been at work on a dizzying array of other projects. He had a recurring role on NBC’s Parks and Recreation, co-stars in Hulu's Difficult People and will appear in the upcoming season of the FX series American Horror Story.
Eichner studied theater at Northwestern University, hoping to make it on Broadway. When that wasn't a fit, he invented his own live talk show, Creation Nation, which he performed at the 99-seat Ars Nova theater in New York. He tells us how the person-on-the-street short video segments from that show later evolved into the 30-minute TV game show we see today.
Eichner also explains why he never gives any of his guests the questions in advance -- even when his guest was Michelle Obama. Plus, Eichner goes into some of the challenges of making the show, including working with celebrities who find that engaging with strangers on the street is much more difficult than they anticipated.
Billy on the Street is now Emmy nominated for Outstanding Variety Sketch Series.