Behind the scenes with “Money From Strangers” on MTV

Did you watch the debut of Money From Strangers on MTV last week? Did you miss it?

Either way, you can catch up with the latest, greatest, hidden-camera comedy show as host Jeff Dye takes us behind the scenes of the premiere and gives you insight before the next episodes air!

Dye (above, pictured with Kurt Braunohler — a writer on the show in addition to participating on camera for two episodes, two-episode contributor Grace Helbig, and executive producer Rob Anderson) finds unsuspecting civilians in and around New York City, then tasks them to several challenges in which they can win up to $1,000. He is aided by a pair of comedians for each contestant. The pairs on episode one included

Let’s go behind the scenes! Hi, Jeff Dye!

First, though, how would you compare “Money From Strangers” to previous shows such as MTV’s “Boiling Point” (which offered unsuspecting people cash if they didn’t get angry while pranked), or similar TV pranks-via-transmitter (such as when David Letterman sent Rupert Gee around and gave him instructions, or when Ellen DeGeneres sends celebrities into coffeeshops to wreak havoc)?

This show is very different then Boiling Points and Punk’d in the fashion that we are a lot more ornery and we don’t ever do the corny reveal we just want to do our pranks and leave. We like the idea of nobody ever being able to know its us too, since I’m in a van the show can have a long life because it’s always strangers prancing strangers, on other shows Chelsea Handler, or Dax or Sacha Baron Cohen are recognized and the prank falls short. And although we don’t pretend that we have reinvented the wheel, this is a thing that has been on tv a lot of times but it’s a fun thing that hasn’t ever been its own show. Like Rupert or on Ellen, or The Man Show boy did this but they were just segments and on our show we let regular people earn money & be on TV simply for trusting some stranger off the street of NY.

Your first contestant, Devin, the young woman from NYC who went into a falafel shop. You had James Adomian and Eric Andre with you for this. How did you pick the right shop? We have all the locations pre-chosen. NO ONE knows we will be coming in or when but months prior the Owner has given us permission to use their business. The only rule is he CAN NOT tell any of his employees or managers and if we feel like he has or that they might be on to us we abort and never show the footage.

She seemed like quite the trooper, right? How do you know when you’re on the sidewalk people-watching who will be up for the game? I don’t. I ask EVERYONE and get rejected about 100 times for every person that is willing. That part is hidden-camera also so most people think I’m full of shit.

How much is planned out beforehand, and how much are you and the other two comedians simply winging it and playing it by ear? We have some BRILLIANT writers (Kurt Braunohler, Scotty Landis, Albertino Rizzo) but once you get in the location it’s a lot of what ever happens we gotta roll with it.

The next segment is a montage of quick what-if questions, but they’re mostly women. Did you find you had better luck getting women to stop on the sidewalk for quick chats, than with men? I think you know the answer to this. Men in NY looked at me like I was an idiot when I wanted to talk to them, young women were nicer to me because they are young women.

Then two women take off their panties on the corner and glue them to the pedestrian sign for $40 each??? Do you think the “kids these days” are more adventurous and/or impulsive than Generation X or the Boomers before them? I think so and support that 100%

Justin, from Staten Island, went into a grocery store and said “I mess with people all the time.” (You had Moshe Kasher and Ali Wong on this one) Do you think that made him better for the gig? His challenges seemed a little more hard-core than Devin’s. How much of that was the situation, how much of it is because of the guy, and how much of that is based on the comedians sitting beside you? The more adventurous the better, so when I hear them say that I don’t have to ease into it as much. It’s almost like a challenge. But those usually are the best games when you get a cool stranger who doesn’t feel like you are trying to make them feel dumb, we are ultimately just trying to have fun. So the better they understand that the better the game.

Tracey, a Staten Island dancer, got sent into a Hilton Garden Inn (Johnny Pemberton and Kurt Braunohler helped on this one). They called the cops when she was still in the first round! What did you and the crew learn from that experience that helped in future missions — either avoiding the cops or putting people in situations that might end up with police involvement? We don’t mind the police being called and the more we did the show the more we realized that it was gonna be a common theme in our show.

Alex said he was “in a hurry” until you told him $1,000 for 15 minutes! Sent into a diner (Joe Mande and Noah). He barely snuck in the final jumping jack, too! How much were you guys sweating that? I am always rooting for the stranger so I was trying to make him as much money as possible, but it’s for selfish reasons, I just want to see more stuff to entertain myself, and in turn, they make more money.

Do you think it’s easier or a whole lot easier to have strangers act strangely in New York City, where New Yorkers are used to crazy people? Haha a whole lot, BUT people in this town do get mad faster and violent. So that’s a factor.

The small print at the end says some portions not affecting the outcome were edited. What does this mean for us as viewers, exactly? It means we wish we could show you the whole 30-50 minutes these strangers were in the location but we can but rest assured nothing you missed affected the fairness of these people winning or not winning money.

Is there anything else you want viewers to know about future episodes to keep an eye out for? All they gotta know is that we didn’t save all the good stuff for the first episode. It does get better! So start or keep watching!

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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