'The Masked Singer's Taco: 'That Was the Most Nervous I've Been in Years'
The Masked Singer's Taco went from host to contestant.
The third and final elimination from Group B before the Fox competition moves on to Group C was none other than Dancing With the Stars' Tom Bergeron. It was a surprise to the panel — even though most of them know him. That "made it even sweeter," Bergeron told TV Insider.
Here, the host-turned-contestant discusses his time on The Masked Singer and achieving his goal with the experience.
What was your reaction when this opportunity came about?
Tom Bergeron: It was an immediate yes, and the primary reason for that was the person asking me, an executive producer on The Masked Singer, used to be an executive producer on Dancing With the Stars, and we're very close friends, Izzie Pick Ibarra, and she had seen that I did a song on a Mr. Rogers tribute album. They had one spot left in Group B, and she called and said, "This might be daft, but would you ever be willing to do The Masked Singer?" I said, "if I could have a reunion with you and some of the other gang from Dancing, absolutely."
You've been in the business for years but this was obviously a different experience for you. What were the biggest challenges?
Dressing up as the Taco, but it was such fun. What made it even sweeter for me was that nobody guessed. People I know — Robin and Jenny especially, and Nicole, [who] won Season 10 of Dancing With the Stars, and she didn't have a clue. So, that was fun, fooling friends.
Speaking of that, what did you think of the panelists' guesses?
The closest anybody got was Robin after I did the Frank Sinatra tune. He guessed Bob Saget because there were VHS tapes and obviously didn't take the height differential into account, but I figured, given that, they're going to nail me pretty soon, but then nobody did.
And then you had Bob Saget as your celebrity friend.
Bob readily agreed to [that]. I think the clues he gave were typically sly and so Saget-y. It was fun. We texted each other after the first show aired, and I said, "they thought I was you, a shorter version of you," which, I guess, in some respects, I am.
Let's talk about that costume and the hot sauce microphone. What appealed to you about it?
I was given two choices because I was the last one cast in Group B. They were down to two remaining costumes. The other option was a Jellyfish, and that was just disgusting, so the Taco was a lot more adorable in the bizarre dancing-singing-food group category.
You're used to dealing with the contestants on Dancing With the Stars, but here, you were one of them.
That gave me a whole new level of empathy for everybody who has danced in our ballroom over the past 15 years. None of them have had to dress quite like I did, but the actual experience of getting out and performing live — and even though Masked Singer is taped, you do go on stage and sing live — that was the most nervous I've been in years, which I think is a good thing. It's good to challenge yourself every so often.
Moving on to your song choices, was there anything you wanted to keep in mind in terms of the songs themselves and your voice or the performances to go along with them?
The first one, "Fly Me to the Moon," was right in my limited wheelhouse. I felt very comfortable with that one. "Bossa Nova Baby," actually we taped that show only hours after we taped the first show I was on. I didn't even have time to bask in the great reviews of my Sinatra tune because I was so worried about forgetting the lyrics of "Bossa Nova Baby" that I remembered the lyrics and then forgot the dance steps.
What other songs did you have in mind if you'd continued on?
We really talked about this before the third show, I would've liked to have gone back into a Michael Bublé-Sinatra-Harry Connick kind of song book, just to get back into what I felt more comfortable with and then play off from there, had I continued. Having said that, I think I got out at the right time.
What'd you think of your clues packages? Is there anything you wish had or hadn't been included?
I think, and Jenny and Nicole have both commented from their perspective, the clue packages are a lot harder this season than they have been in the past two seasons. I thought they were very cleverly put together. The whoopee cushion, referring to the years I worked with Whoopi Goldberg on Hollywood Squares. The one that threw a lot of people off was the hair piece, which if you go back and look at that, is a Moe Howard haircut, and I had interviewed Moe and Larry back when I was a teenager. We turned tapes of those interviews into a special on Howard Stern's SiriusXM channel a few years ago. They were very clever with their clues, and I think when you go back knowing now that I was Taco, you can see how they all connect.
What are your thoughts on The Masked Singer as someone who's been working in the competition genre for some time and how has that opinion changed since your time on the show?
Reality television is constantly reinventing itself. We've been fortunate on Dancing to be on the air for 15 years and hopefully continue on for more. I think Masked Singer is one of those formats that just has caught the public's attention in the way that Dancing did years ago, and The Voice and American Idol, shows like that, but it brings a whole new dimension to it. I have to give special kudos to the costume department because so much of the success of the show rests on how brilliant they are with their creations.
What's been the reaction from family and friends?
The reaction's been lovely. It's been exactly what I hoped it would be: surprise, even among family and friends. The fact that I was able to stump the panel, I really enjoyed that. What I wanted to have happen with this is just to come out of left field and surprise people with me doing something on television that I had never done before. I think I've achieved that.
The Masked Singer, Wednesdays, 8/7c, Fox