ABC's Wipeout even funnier up close and personal

FRESNO, California

I recently traveled to Canyon Country near Santa Clarita in Los Angeles County for a behind the scenes look from the set of "Wipeout."

The horn means someone's about to get the taste knocked out of their mouth. We were told to be quiet on the "Wipeout" set during taping but that was difficult.

Executive producer Scott Larsen was always ready to lower the boom. Larsen explained, "The best thing about handling this is probably getting to push the buttons because I control just about everything out here. It's like a video game with real people."

And the poor souls never saw it coming. Wipeout host John Henson said, "They always look so hopeful at the top of the course and then not so much at the end of the course."

Henson added the show always adds something dastardly each season though the big red balls remain a comedy staple.

I asked him, "You've seen the secret to getting past the big balls, you've never wanted to try?" Henson replied, "There is no secret to getting past the big balls. This is a course designed for failure so if you're succeeding we're not doing our job. That's the way we look at it."

For that reason people were kept on shaky ground. As you watch "Wipeout" and enjoy it at home you normally follow one contestant through the course but you would be amazed by how many people it takes to put this production on the air."

It is a crowded course. A staff of about 300 people is involved with the planning and production of wipeout.

The jib cam took care of the aerial shots but the set was crawling with camera operators racing to get into place.

Inside the control room the production crew looked for comedy stars to pop off the screen because a full day of shooting must be condensed into an hour-long show.

Executive producer Matt Kunitz said, "The beauty of this show is we edit so the people at home are never going to see that boring girl. Gone. Not even part of the show. We just show the great moments."

Many contestants were defeated early so the producers had to urge them on. But then they get hit by ice cream and even bananas as they try to navigate the hamster wheel.

Wipeout co-host Jill Wagner said, "As long as it's not getting thrown at me it's cool. I don't know. Anyone hungry? I am not, not for a banana. Or that banana."

By the time contestants get to Wagner they're exhausted. She said, "I think it's nice sometimes when people are humbled because you get a lot of cocky people that come in here and you can't be cocky on wipeout. There is no getting through this dry."

Fortunately for viewers it can't be done.

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