Dr. Phil didn’t want to kill hip-hop. Before he agreed to guest on TBS’ “Drop the Mic,” he told the show’s producers that he hoped to avoid making a joke out of the genre — or himself.
“Dr. Phil, out of everyone we had this season, took it the most serious,” said executive producer Jensen Karp. “He asked for coaches to come in and help him out days before. He also said, ‘I don’t want to do this if I’m going to make a mockery out of hip-hop. Is there any way to can see that I don’t do that?’ In real life, that was endearing to me.”
It turns out he didn’t have to worry. Guest stars are taking the challenge of “Drop the Mic” even more seriously this season, as even Karp and host Method Man told IndieWire’s TURN IT ON that they were surprised at how little editing the show’s rap battles needed.
“I don’t expect anyone to go up there and be Jay-Z overnight,” Method Man said. “But when I’m pleasantly surprised, that’s a whole different ball game. That’s a different level of surprise. Every once in a while they throw people in there who exceed.”
Added Karp: “Last season we didn’t have that. We had some good stuff and some of it got better in the edit but this year we have 15 that I’m not sure we need to edit hard.”
Method Man and Karp sat down with IndieWire’s TURN IT ON recently for a wide-ranging conversation that discussed Season 2 of “Drop the Mic” but also dived into Method Man’s unique career (including, yes, Fox’s “Method and Red” sitcom) and how so many hip-hop MCs have turned to hosting.
Karp, a hip-hop aficianado and rabid Wu-Tang Clan fan, also asked Method Man his own burning questions and explained how it gets weird sometimes when people come over and realize his fiancee is Danielle Fishel, a.k.a. Topanga from “Boy Meets World.” Method Man additionally gave his thoughts on the recent TV series “Unsolved,” about the murders of Tupac and Biggie, and revealed his favorite movie critic. Listen below!
Among the highlights of Season 2: Jerry Springer, who takes on Ricki Lake in a battle of the 1990s daytime talk show hosts. Method Man said he’s been asking for Springer since the first season.
“Jerry does way better than you would expect,” Karp said. “We all thought it was going to be a car crash. I like when it’s not. We had a car crash season one with Rob Gronkowski. Gina Rodriguez destroyed him. I like it when it’s competitive. I was surprised the audience gravitated toward Gronkowski getting beat up. I like it when they can compete back.”
Other inspired pairings this season include a battle of the Shaggys: “I’m looking for my Peabody and I started to wonder how I was going to get it,” Karp quipped. “My big pitch was to get Matthew Lillard, who played Shaggy in the ‘Scooby Doo’ franchise, to battle Shaggy the musician, and assumed there was no world where either would do it — only to find out they loved it. They were like, this was the best idea they ever heard. It’s a great battle and to me that’s my favorite battle of the year.”
Now that the show has legs, more celebrities come to it understanding what’s expected of them — and knowing that they will be roasted. Every once in a while, a celebrity will abruptly leave or feel that they were hit harder — but more often, they only get upset when they don’t win.
“We live in a universe where we told Shania Twain she can’t sing,” Karp noted. “We live in a universe where we told Halle Berry she can’t act. We live in a universe where we told Shawn Mendes he’s going to be homeless in five years. We live in a world where if you take yourself too seriously don’t come on our show.”
“Drop the Mic,” based on the segment from “The Late Late Show with James Corden,” is a bit of a celebrity roast, as stars come on and put up with some choice disses as they also lob some good ones at their rap opponent.
Matchups this season, besides Springer vs. Lake and Dr. Phil vs. Corden include Shaquille O’Neal vs. Ken Jeong, Jay Pharaoh vs. Marlon Wayans, Luis Guzman vs. Gabriel Iglesias, Seth Rogen vs. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Mark McGrath vs. Jodie Sweetin, Hanson vs. Sam Richardson, and Michael K. Williams vs. Trevor Jackson.
“We are never in any shape or form telling these celebrities to put out a mix tape tomorrow,” Karp said. “What we’re going is letting them honor and pay tribute to an incredible art form that everyone loves but yet we say, go have fun with it.”
“Drop the Mic” airs Sundays at 10:30 p.m. ET on TBS.
IndieWire’s “TURN IT ON with Michael Schneider” is a weekly dive into what’s new and what’s now on TV — no matter what you’re watching or where you’re watching it. With an enormous amount of choices overwhelming even the most sophisticated viewer, “TURN IT ON” is a must-listen for TV fans looking to make sense of what to watch and where to watch it.