Funderdome Part 2
Read How Epic Wipes Got Massive Exposure In the Spotlight on Steve Harvey’s Funderdome. (continued)
Part 2 - Getting accepted to the show
Interviewer: So, someone from the show called and said, “Hey, you made it!” What was that like?
Aeneas: Yes. There was a phone call and they said that we made it, congratulations, totally awesome job, you guys did great, just what we are looking for. And then they told us that even though we’ve done all this work, we’re getting on the show, and they hate to tell us this, but there’s a bunch more work we have to do.
James: A bunch more.
Aeneas: That was when they said, “Okay, send us whatever you think is cool and keep it under this length of time.” And that was when it would’ve been helpful if we could have seen the show before coming up with our script.
James: But it was really interesting, you know? In retrospect, it may have been frustrating at the time, but nonetheless, it was interesting to observe the evolution of a new show. Yes, the framework was there, but the producer was working directly with us to sort through the process. And we met how many times? At least ten times, Aeneas?
Aeneas: And this is after a month of us going back and forth with the pitch and saying, “This is stupid, just trying to pare everything down to 80-seconds is not easy". And then we got there and performed it in front of the producers and they said, “This is a cool product. But your pitch really stinks.”
James: The earliest draft that I shared with Aeneas was almost a prop comedy, in that it was a very fast-paced and did things like lift a 35-pound weight, which just 1 wipe can do. But we didn’t realize how minimalistic the presentation options would be on stage. We basically had the podium and a spread of the product. A display of the product. But it was kinda nice because we were able to focus on just connecting with the audience. It’s something Aeneas and I had done on a couple of occasions, going all way back to high school and junior high theater. So it was fun to go there together and just focus on the audience and tell the story.
Interviewer: So Aeneas, when you found out, who is the first person you told?
Aeneas: I think it was probably Rose, who is on our team here at Epic Wipes.
James: Yeah, probably Rose, but when you called me, I remember I was driving at the time and was quite elated, because you had put a lot of faith in me in terms of the application process. Knowing all the time we put in and we spent a lot of resources, so it was a vote of confidence. It was almost a relief to know that my contribution had been successful towards the goal of getting on the show.
Interviewer: Aeneas, once you’ve realized you’re going to be on TV, did you get nervous?
Aeneas: Oh yeah. I didn’t want to do it in the 1st place, to be honest. I mean, I thought maybe James could do it by himself or something. He mentioned that I was involved in a few musicals in high school, but after high school he went and made it his life. I did other things, but never performed again. I felt like it just wasn’t my style to be like, “Hey! Look at me!”
And obviously, there’s also that voice in the back of your head that says, “I don’t want to make a fool out of myself on national television.” I mean, they’re not gonna let me go back and redo a scene if I trip, or whatever. It’s the kind of stuff that comes into anyone's mind if they haven’t at least performed on an amateur level. Or maybe I’m just a wimp.
James: Well, I think that’s why we are good duo. Because the friendship goes back thirty years and there’s an energy that you can’t fake. It’s sort of a team spirit. We’re in this together and that resonates with the audience. Further to that, Aeneas has done a great deal of presenting keynotes speaking and conferences in his medical career, so he has that anchored, scientific kind of energy.
Aeneas: Yes, it’s strange. I have no problem standing in front of a thousand people and giving a presentation on something medical, because I know what I know. If I stumble, I can just pick up where I left off. No one will expect me to be perfect. But there’s something about being on TV or performing at a coffee house. You can’t forget a word or everyone notices and starts feeling bad for you. And that was the thing I was worried about.
James: And that is why I think this was the best format for us, because Funderdome was going to have a studio audience of 300 people. And Steve Harvey, he’s all about laughing and fun, so we know they were going to be energized. He’s essentially in our corner.
Besides doing theater for 20 years, I grew up around cameras, because my dad was a news anchorman. And I knew Aeneas would do well in the room with that group of people, if we can get them pumped. Our 2 energies playing off other was just a lot of fun and I was relieved it was so successful.
Interviewer: The long and the short of that is seasoned professionals still got nervous. And that’s pretty neat, in a way, because it shows your realness. So, other than getting through the show without goofing up, what do you think you might be getting from this?
James: Well for me, it was contributing to something that validated the idea and all the hard work Aeneas put into it over a period of a couple years. And we wanted to win over the audience. Our ultimate goal was to win, but we definitely wanted the audience to respond positively to Epic Wipes.
I think was a great confidence boost that all the time and due diligence we spent to get the details right, to get formulation right, and all of this was ultimately worthwhile. At the same time, I was supremely confident that we would, because I had complete faith in Aeneas and the product. But it was nice to have that validation from a live audience in a high-pressure situation, for sure.
Aeneas: You know, it’s one thing to have a successful Kickstarter, but you know that’s something that can be easily forgotten. Not very many people go on Kickstarter, or even know how to use it. So even though we’ve gotten a couple little bumps and BuzzFeed said a few words about us, there’s something that feels like you’ve left your mark when you’re on a legit TV show. You know that it’ll have reruns, or be on Netflix where people can watch it again. That made me feel like we made it. Like we hit some sort of milestone that not a lot of people can do. In and of itself, that was deeply satisfying.
James: Being on a show was always on my bucket list. I hoped it would be Jeopardy, but this was really cool too.