You’ve seen Adam Richman tackle food challenges on Man Vs. Food, then seen him enlist fans who are gluttons for punishment on Man Vs. Food Nation.
Men Vs. Food, a new pilot airing on the Travel Channel tonight (9:30 p.m. Eastern), chooses comedy over gluttony. Starting with two stand-up comedians as hosts: Robert Kelly and Sherrod Small. The pilot, “Miami Mayhem,” travels with Kelly and Small to the beach, where the duo challenges each other to a series of meals at six restaurants within the half-hour episode.
The Travel Channel recently debuted Burger Land, another new series that airs tonight before Men Vs. Food, via standalone pilot before ordering it to full series.
Here are a couple of clips from the Men Vs. Food pilot, shot over the winter.
First up, the fellas talk to dummies, then meet in Versailles for Cuban sandwiches. And Kelly coins the term, “fat guy lip balm.”
For round three, they’re up for jumbo crabs, which they learn at Joe’s Takeaway means the crab legs are taken away from still-living crabs.
Kelly, who became a father earlier this month and therefore literally has another mouth to feed at home, wants you to know that this “is not a glutton show.”
“Done that, been there. I’m not losing a foot,” Kelly told The Comic’s Comic. “This competition is more, let’s go to a city, eat as much as we could while we’re there. This is as if Sherrod and I were foodies. And we had a local guy take us to as many places as we could go in a day. Whomever taps out first, loses.”
Small joked to The Comic’s Comic that he wasn’t so concerned about challenging Kelly to an eating contest on TV, anyhow. “I just wanted to get free food,” Small said. “Bobby can win every week for all I care. I just want to go to as many different cities in America and eat great food.”
For his part, Kelly said he’s already trying to do that when he works comedy clubs on the road. “I usually get the MC or the middle act to take me around,” he said. “I did a whole thing in Cleveland — on the riotcast.com podcast page … I got some of the best pho in the country in Cleveland. In Cleveland!”
For their inaugural excursion together for the Travel Channel, Kelly and Small hit up six joints. In addition to the aforementioned menu items seen above — the Cuban sandwiches and jumbo crabs — the comedians also take on ‘Tater Tachos,” pork chops crusted in pine nuts, gelato pops from a food truck, fish sausages and extra-large pizza slices.
“We went to all hot spots in town,” said Small, who also is co-hosting the new weekly FUSE series, United States of Hip Hop, and said Miami’s Ola served up “maybe the best pork chops I’ve ever had.”
“The competition part is lets just keep going and going, until someone says, it’s over dude,” Kelly said. “We went to this food truck that made their own Popsicles, like Fudgsicles. But he picked mango. Ugh. It’s almost like a cross between Man Vs. Food, Bizarre Foods and Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations. It’s all three of those.
“So I got back at him with seafood sausage.”
What makes it different from those other three Travel Channel shows that centered around food, of course, the comedians are quick to point out, is themselves. It’s all played through the eyes and mouths of comedians.
“It’s funny as hell,” Small said.
Small added that future episodes could find the two comedians planning stand-up dates in the cities where they’re filming food adventures, combining it all. Even if it’s not so much stand-up on TV (a la Insomniac) and more about the food and the locations.
“It’s this weird informative show,” Kelly said. “Two guys having fun, having a blast. In this competition which is secondary. the competition is just because we’re two guys, we’re comics, we need a reason to do this. We could keep going until breakfast if we had to. But we don’t need to eat a whole 40-ounce pizza each, that’s stupid. Let’s not run down and fuck one sheep. Let’s walk down and fuck ’em all.”
And since it’s for the Travel Channel, it’s really about exploring the destination.
“I’ve been to Miami, South Beach, so many times. I didn’t hear about any of these places before,” Kelly said. “It’s about experiencing a city…places you didn’t even know existed or forgot you knew they were there.”
He hopes he and Small will bring you episodes that you find to be: “Informative. Funny. And makes you want to go to those places.”
Men Vs. Food premieres at 9:30 p.m. Eastern tonight on Travel Channel.