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A more-than-intentional homage to "Pardon the Interruption" among others, We Love to Interrupt is an original, raw, frank, red-blooded, two-fisted, full-bodied look into the world of game shows through the eyes of two discerning fans with high standards and short fuses.

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July 30, 2004

Chico: Mmmmm... Tastes like a saltlick. Welcome back to the show. Gordon has a treat for you... A big one.. or a tall one ... or something.
We have a treat for everyone. This edition of 20 Questions features Steve Altes from Extreme Dodgeball. Steve is on the CPA's who are playing in the finals against the Barbell Mafia. I was fortunate enough to have a chance to speak with him. Steve talks about the show, his teammates, and his own life as we get an insight of a very well-traveled man.

1) How did you get involved in Extreme Dodgeball? How much experience have you had dodging the little red balls?

In April, the Game Show Network held auditions in Hollywood for players from various categories (sumo wrestlers, horse jockeys, security guards, CPAs, etc). In one of my various careers, I worked as a program controller for a space launch vehicle program. That was close enough to accounting that they let me try out for the CPA team. Thousands of people auditioned, but in the end only 40 were picked (five players for eight teams). I hadn't played dodgeball since 4th grade, back when dinosaurs still roamed the earth.

2) What inspired you more to be on the show - the competitive spirit, or the $10,000 first place paycheck? Why?

Believe it or not, I would have played just as hard for no money. There was something about the arena set-up, the thundering music, the smoke machines, the uniforms, the cheering crowds, and the team camaraderie that just put me in a crazy competitive mindset. In my head, I was playing as if my life depended on it. Like the losing team would be executed, much like the way Iraq's soccer team was motivated in the bad old days.

3) What prep work or practicing did you do to prepare yourself for this show, if any?

I cut back from six sloe gin fizzes a day to four. I didn't have much time to do anything really. From the day we were cast to the day we started shooting was only a few days. Mostly my preparation before each game consisted of praying that I didn't take a 55 mph heater to the gonads.

4) I noticed that there is an actual L.A. Dodgeball Society website
( that is indeed run by Tobias McKinney and Michael Costanza. How many of the people on your team and on the TV show are a part of it? On that note, how many of the people on the show took it seriously and who didn't? Any specific names?

Tobias and Michael play there, but so do a lot of people on the other teams. David "Swamp Donkey" Benedetto ("Armed Response") plays. Some of the "Ink Inc" guys. I don't know the exact details because I've never been to the LA Dodgeball Society games.

5) Are you and your teammates good friends off the court? How often do you guys get together for drinks, etc.?

Of all the teammates, I am closest to Tobias "Skinny" McKinney. He cracks me up. And he comes in handy if you drop your car keys down the storm drain. At 6'5" and 100 pounds, you can hold him by the ankles, lower him in, and he can retrieve them.

6) One of the things that sets you guys apart, I think, is the fact that both of the women on your team come up huge. How did you get them, and were you surprised that they could actually play that well?

Our women kick ass! Mandy Sommers's catches are super-human. She could catch a cannon ball. She's fearless. "Flypaper" is a good nickname for her. Did you see that shot Gretchen Weiss caught the other day? Point-blank range, a monster shot right at her solar plexus, and she was picking up another ball at the same time. She caught the missile without dropping the other ball. They really were our secret weapon.

7) It seemed like you were getting better as a team as the season grew on. What things did you learn when you got to see the other teams play?

We did get better. And we tried to vary our game play. Some games you come out like gang-busters trying to decimate your opponent. Other times you play more controlled, a waiting game, letting the other guy make the mistake. You can win the game on offense (hitting people, hitting the regen target) or defense (catching balls, letting them make foot faults).

Strength isn't important in dodgeball. Michael Costanza said that, "If you're a bad dancer that correlates to being a good dodgeball player. It helps to flail and leap around. We've actually tested the hypothesis by just dancing
for a game. You can stay in for pretty much the whole time if your dancing is really bad."

8) Did you ever get to meet the announcers Bill Dwyer, Zach Selwyn, and Jerri Manthey? If so, what're they really like?

Sure we met them. Bill and Zach were very very funny. It's the funniest color commentary I've ever seen. Jerri Manthey's finest moment was when
Tobias McKinney scooped her up and spanked her ass after we beat the Sumos in the play-offs.

9) Okay, according to your website (, you've been an actor and a model as well as an aerospace engineer (and probably a little CPA on the side). Which is harder for you personally - acting, engineering, or dodging little red balls?

True, I was an engineer, but not a very good one. I'm probably the only rocket scientist in the country whose VCR is still flashing "12:00." As a former rocket scientist turned actor and model, I'm someone who traded the frustration and anxiety of corporate life for the uncertainty and degradation of show business.

The thing is, when a rocket scientist makes a mistake, it blows up on the evening news. Again and again, in video tape replay. And since aerospace failures become national spectacles, the profession tends to reward people who don't like to take chances. It took me a decade to realize that this risk-averse culture didn't suit me. On the other hand, acting is all about taking chances. If you don't go out on a limb in an audition, you don't distinguish yourself from the 50 other people reading for the same part. Basically, I realized that engineering is a no-nonsense profession. And I'm all nonsense.

As for dodging little red balls, clearly that isn't my forte either. I am,
unquestionably, the least valuable player on the Certified Public Assassins.

10) Aside from ALL of this (and we do mean all of it, because it seems you've lived quite a life here), you were also a writer. Any works that stick out in your mind?

Well there is my "Little Book of Bad Business Advice" (St. Martin's Press, 1997). It may be the best book of bad business advice ever written. One
reviewer noted that it reminded him of Shakespeare, "in the sense that both Altes and the bard arranged letters to form words and thus create sentences." There is also a sequel, "If You Jam the Copier, Bolt" (Andrews McMeel, 2001). Buying this book is guaranteed to make you more attractive to the opposite sex and make you live longer. In addition, the pages of this book, when burned, provide a clean, inexhaustible source of energy.

I have a piece coming out in September 2004 in the humor anthology "May Contain Nuts: A Very Loose Canon of American Humor" (HarperCollins). If you want to laugh till the milk snorts out of your nose, buy that book. My humor essays have appeared in places like Salon, The L.A. Times, The Christian Science Monitor, The Washington Post, P.O.V., and Capital Style. My work has not appeared in Modern Bride, Inside Kung Fu, Barely Legal and loads of places when you come to think about it.

11) If by winning first place, you were able to ask anyone out on the Extreme Dodgeball staff (on any team or an announcer), who would it be and why?

I would ask the mimes out. All five of them, in complete mime regalia. Then I'd walk through the New York City subway at night, singing "Warriors, come out and play… Warriors..."

12) If you could pick up a 6th person on your team for the next season, and you could select anyone from any team, who would you add?

Probably Kel Watrin, the guy from Curves of Steel. He has the fastest throwing arm in the league.

13) If you had your choice to put your team up against any 5 people - just so that you'd have the opportunity to pelt them with balls, what 5 people would you like to pelt?

That's easy. I'd pelt my own personal rogue's gallery of Scott Peterson, O.J. Simpson, Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth, Osama bin Laden, and that guy who pulled the puppy dog out of the car and threw it into traffic.

14) Besides Extreme Dodgeball, what's your favorite game show/reality show and why?

I liked that show, Pepsi's Play for a Billion, where the monkey draws a number and if you match it you win one billion dollars. I think that perfectly encapsulates the insanity of modern culture. Win a pile of money bigger than the GNP of several nations if you have a meeting of the minds with a primate. Perfect! The only way to make that better is to have the monkey pick his number by flinging his dung at a numbers board.

15) Who's your favorite game show host?

I like Mark Walberg. Not the Marky Mark guy. The "Russian Roulette" guy. I've met him a few times and he's a really nice guy.

16) If you could see one show from the days of old make a return, what would it be and why?

I'd like to see Concentration come back. I bet some genius guy like Ken Jennings of Jeopardy would come along with a photographic memory and just annihilate his opponents.

17) Say you were to add the mantle of game show host to your already pretty much staggering resume, which show could you see yourself manning?

I actually did audition once to host a game show called "It's Academic." It's sort of like Jeopardy for high school students. The whole experience was pretty ridiculous. The students knew I was auditioning so they decided to haze me a little. I was supposed to banter with each contestant for a moment. And it ending up going something like this:

"Welcome to It's Academic. Let's meet today's contestants. So Johnny, how did you spend your summer vacation?"
"I had a demon exorcised from my body."
"Super. I'm glad that worked out for ya. Peter, how about you?"
"Let's see: I hacked into the Los Alamos computer system and I lost my virginity in the backseat of a '93 Ford Probe."
"That's swell, Peter. Julie, do you have anything you'd like to share?"
"Yeah. You stink. I like the other host better."
"Excellent. Let's begin the game, shall we?"

Damn wise-ass kids.

18) Congratulations on your show coming back for a second season. If they ask you to go back into the arena for another season, would you do it?

I'd do it faster than Dante Alighieri ("Sumo Storm") can devour a box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts.

19) As you may or may not know, the Game Show Congress will be in Los Angeles during the weekend of August 13-15. What dodgeball events would they be able to view or participate in during that time?

The girls from Curves of Steel will be having a kissing booth there. No, actually I have no idea. I'm out of the loop on that one.

20) Any thoughts on the people who want to ban dodgeball from schools?

Ban dodgeball? Why you might as well ban apple pie and mother's day! America is getting softer than microwaved butter! I know what those NPR-listening, Birkenstocks-wearing, frappuccino-guzzling parents want. They want their Joshuas and their Olivias to grow up in a cozy womb of non-competition, where everybody shares their tofu and the three little pigs and the big, bad wolf set up a commune. Then their kids will be shoved out into the real  world and discover that there's weak and strong and winning and losing. You'll recognize those kids. They'll be the ones steaming your chai. It's a very noncompetitive pursuit.

21) Anything else you'd like to say that we may have missed?

Yes. Have you ever thought that maybe we don't have a set number of years to live? Instead our lives tick away by odd markers. Like the number of times you change the battery in your smoke detector. Maybe you're destined to only hear the song "Tin Man" by America sixty times in your whole life. The 60th time, you die! Maybe you just heard it an hour ago for the 37th time. You just moved closer to death without even realizing it.

Thanks again, Steve for the fascinating and enlightening interview.
Continued success with the CPA. Extreme Dodgeball, Tuesdays 10pm on GSN. Look out for the second season coming soon.
When we come back, we strand people, places and things on the island - Australian Style.

(Brought to you by Extreme Action Star Dodgeball. Wannabe actors try to avoid balls being chucked at them by weightlifters and Jerri Manthey ands Zach Selwyn. It's fun fun fun for all!)

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