Craig Robinson’s ‘Caraoke Showdown’ Is the Late-Night Show You Should Be Watching
America’s Got Talent judge Howie Mandel executive produces Spike’s rollicking new song-filled series along with Craig Robinson (Brooklyn Nine-Nine), who serves as an Uber-style driver, picking up unsuspecting passengers whom he assigns a variety of karaoke-style challenges for cash, camaraderie and comedy. Throughout various rounds, contestants belt out their favorite tunes, finish lyrics and act out songs for prize money.
The Caraoke caravan also makes pit stops so the backseat Beyoncés and Bublés can recruit bystanders to accompany them to victory. At the end of each episode, the finalists perform for a crowd to determine the grand prizewinner.
“It’s silly, it’s fun and it’s karaoke in a car with contestants in a game show,” Robinson says. “It’s like the easiest way to win $5,000 in some cases. There might be two groups that aren’t necessarily the best singers in the world, but here’s five grand. So what?”
Mandel says his love for hidden-camera comedy, coupled with an appreciation for Discovery’s Cash Cab, inspired Showdown. “I said, ‘What if we pick people up and they had no idea they were on a game show?’” he explains. “They can win money, and there’s nothing funnier than people singing in the car—people who think they’re great but are not necessarily great, because not-great is what’s going to be great for us.”
If Robinson proved a not-great driver, well, Mandel had that covered too.
“We were insured to the hilt, so I couldn’t give a rat’s whatever about his driving skills,” he laughs. “But it turned out nobody died during the making of the show. And we believe that we have a hit without the run. That was our motto!”
As for Robinson’s own karaoke go-tos, he says he’s all about variety: “I’ve got ‘Purple Rain.’ I’ve got ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit.’ I’ve got ‘Hurt’ by Johnny Cash. I love Muse’s ‘Time Is Running Out.’ I’m all over the spectrum!”
Caraoke Showdown, Thursdays, 10:30/9:30c Spike