Almost everyone knows a guy like Zane Lamprey, the host of MOJO's worldwide booze-cruise Three Sheets. Maybe he's the class clown from high school, maybe he's the always-smiling regular at the neighborhood watering hole, maybe he's one of your close friends. Whoever your Zane Lamprey is, he's a ball to hang out with.
In Three Sheets, Zane--who arguably has the best job in the world--travels the world and plunges face-first into various drinking cultures. Each episode usually starts with Zane sampling local cuisine, moves on to him hitting the bars and drinking local libations, and ends with him experiencing the native hangover cure--often out of necessity.
But Three Sheets isn't just a jet-setting frat party; it's surprisingly educational and easy to ingest. Through clever editing, stylized vignettes, and animated graphics, Three Sheets is easily one of the most entertaining travel and lifestyle shows on the air.
The show kicks off its third season on Thursday, April 10, and TV.com caught up with Zane to talk about plunging naked into near-freezing water, why Germans make good drinkers, and the story behind his stuffed monkey, Pleepleus.
TV.com: I promised the PR people that I would be well hung over for this interview.
Zane Lamprey: [Laughs.] Oh that's fine 'cause they're always drunk.
TV.com: Cool. So let's just get right down to it. What makes you qualified to be the host of Three Sheets?
Zane Lamprey: Basically, I went to college for five years. I think drinking was the culprit for that. And apparently I had a minor in alcohol appreciation without knowing it.
When I started [hosting Three Sheets] back in '06, MOJO was a smaller network; they've doubled or tripled in size since then. I hadn't heard of them before, and I didn't know anyone who had it so I went out in the first season thinking, "I don't even know who's going to watch this show." I threw caution to the wind, and went out there and I was just myself. I was a goofball. I think we're all intrinsically weird...I think that we're all [eccentric] behind closed doors.
Everyone reading this is weird, and they know that they are. And when you see a host that's out there doing all this cool stuff; drinking and traveling and all, it could be very easy to not like me.
But I'm an average guy, and I go out there and I am myself. People respond to that because there are no pretensions; I'm just a guy out there learning about stuff. I don't profess to know anything when I go into the scene. I prefer to just go in as a blank canvas and learn as I go.
TV.com: That's the feeling I get. I feel like I'm there with you... getting wasted and learning the occasional nugget of wisdom.
Zane Lamprey: Yeah, exactly. That's what it's supposed to feel like. That's the beauty of MOJO and Screaming Flea, the production company. They let it breathe. They do an excellent job preparing; they do an amazing job sort of scouting and preparing the locations and everything.
But then when it comes time to shoot, they back away, they go off into a corner, watch it on the monitor and they just let the scene unfold like it should. And that's the beauty of how we get this stuff. The people soon forget they're on camera and then we're just two people or three people or 10 people, however many people; and we're just drinking, having a good time.
TV.com: What are some of the more memorable experiences from season three?
Zane Lamprey: Season three is crazy. We have Scotland. Scotland was amazing. I drank a 52-year-old scotch, Glenfiddich. A bottle of that costs $10,000! Then I went and drank some more scotch in Edinburgh at the Royal Mile, and I was wearing a kilt. They asked me what I was wearing underneath--I had underwear on. So the patrons in the bar ripped off my underwear. That was fun.
In Russia the hangover cure was going to a Russian bathhouse. You go in the sauna, and of course these guys made me strip down to nothing. I'm laying down in a sauna, and these two guys have these big giant leafy branches that they beat you with. And they beat the crap out of you. You're in this hot room, and there's hot air blowing down on you, you're getting whipped by these branches, there's twigs and acorns and leaves flying everywhere. I think I found one in my butt. You go and jump in this ice-cold bath; and then you come out and then these two guys massage you with soap.
In Copenhagen, the hangover cure was the "Viking Plunge." It's jumping into the fjord, and [the water] was 34 degrees. The anticipation was killing me. Even the night before I told the producers, "I can't do it."
So I'm at the end of the dock [butt-naked], and I'm going down these metal steps, and the last step is about a half-inch beneath the surface of the water so, Boom! I feel the water. Oh my God. And the guy on the dock says, "Come on, just go in; go in." And I say "I physically can't do it dude. I can't fall into the water. My body won't let me do it." So he puts this foot in my chest and just shoves me in the water.
The next thing I knew I was half way up the steps and then running towards their lodge and swearing at him the whole way. Then right when I get to the door I stop. I'm like, "Oh my God! I feel amazing right now!" [Laughs.]
So anyway that's how I found myself being naked three countries in a row, which I think I probably should stop there; if not for me but for the viewers. They don't need to see that.
TV.com: Even in the face of professionals, you have fun with the job. Do you think people take drinking and eating too seriously sometimes?
Zane Lamprey: Well that's a funny question. Food, people take much more serious, even though food is just sustenance. It's just something that you need to make your body be able to get to the next meal. But people do take it very, very seriously.
But the thing about drinking is that you don't need it to survive, and it basically is a leisure time activity. I've caught people trying to take their beers very seriously. I appreciate tasting the different ingredients; the hops and the way that it's prepared. I'm not going to sit there and write all my notes down, which some people do, which is fair. But I think that the beer connoisseur is much more fun to hang out with than the wine connoisseurs, because it's beer [laughs], you know what I mean?
TV.com: You are preaching to the choir, my man.
Zane Lamprey: Beer was put here on Earth for us to get drunk to, right? One thing that I've realized is that, especially all the places we've gone to, they all have their own spirit or their own beer that they are very proud of.
TV.com: Any episodes this season take place in the United States?
Zane Lamprey: Yeah. Vegas was "ridonculous." I went to The Paris, and I had a 777 Burger, which is a hamburger and a bottle of Don Perignon Rose. And it cost $777.00. The burger is made with Kobe beef, 100-year-old balsamic, Brie cheese. What else is on it? Oh, lobster! That was it. And oh my God, it was amazing!
Later we went to a Suite at the Hard Rock and we had a poker table. [Professional poker player and I Bet You host] Phil Laak was there, my wife, me, a few other poker players and a few other of my friends, and then we each had our own martini. I had the Zanetini, which is one part cognac, two parts champagne. And everyone had their own little martinis. Someone had an espresso martini, and we all talked about our martinis, you know to sort of tie it into drinking.
Phil Laak had an apple martini, which you know, we gave him some crap about because it's a little bit of a fou-fou drink. But he drank 11 of them! He drank 11, dude. He even drank some of my Zanetinis and ended up under the table. It was priceless. Then we went to the Star Trek Experience and we got dressed up in Star Trek regalia and went to the bar and it was just, Vegas is an amazing episode. That's the only US episode this season. I think next season we're going to Hawaii.
TV.com: Tough life! Who are the best drinkers in the world, and what's the best hangover cure?
Zane Lamprey: Wow. I have the answers for those. I think the best drinkers, in terms of the more they drink the happier they get, are--believe it or not--the Germans. We know they get 500,000 people every day to October Fest. And over the course of 12 days it's 6 million people.
I was there for two days and everyone was drinking; I didn't see one scuffle of any way, shape, or form--nothing! If this was in America, the security would probably outnumber the patrons. I asked [the Germans] about that and they said that they are very good at sort of policing themselves. If they see something get out of hand they all just turn it into a giant hug-fest and everyone laughs it off and they're buddies.
And then the Asian equivalent of that would be South Korea. Those people know how to party. They were so warm and so fun. Now the hangover cure, huh?
If there were some magic cure for hangovers, some secret cure, then you'd have a very difficult time keeping that a secret. Because that would be something that people would want over anything else. Over many things!
But there are some good remedies out there. I'm trying to think of some of the better ones. The Polar Bear plunge was a pretty good one. But then there's that urban myth about the hair of the dog; if you just drink champagne, and then have a glass of champagne the next morning, then you won't get a hangover. Hair of the dog is a pretty good cure for a hangover if you just have a headache. If you have a stomachache, forget about it, it's going to make it worse. But I think the best cure for a hangover is just to not stop drinking.
TV.com: You don't travel alone, you bring a little stuffed monkey named Pleepleus, who has become a bit of a celebrity.
Zane Lamprey: Here's the brief version of the long story. When I got engaged to my wife, we got engaged quickly. We got engaged three weeks after our first date. It was pretty awesome. We're driving back [from Palm Springs], and I said, "We need to kind of get everything out in the open if we're engaged. If there's any secrets we need to get those out." And there wasn't anything, so I said, "Well, I have something. I have to name my first-born Pleepleus; it's like a family thing." And I was just trying to think of like the weirdest Greek name or some obscurity that I could come up with. And she's like, "OK. Fine."
Probably six months later on my first Three Sheets trip I had to leave her behind and I opened my suitcase and there was this little stuffed monkey that said, "Mummy put me in to take care of you. Love, Pleepleus." And so I took that monkey and I hid that monkey in every scene to let my wife know that I was thinking about her.
And then we got talking about it and I said, "Why don't we be the first show to actually be made as a drinking game while we're shooting it?" We talked about it and we did it. The first person to see the monkey [can make] someone else drink. When I talk about my buddy Steve McKenna, it's a Social. Or whenever I take a sip or a drink you have to take a sip. And then there's the Good Burp Rule. Whenever I burp, the last person to do the Good Burp sign, which is like the hang loose sign, drinks.
Then MOJO calls up and they're like, "So, this show's a drinking game huh?" I say, "Yeah." They say, "That's awesome! We ran it by Legal, everything's fine, go for it. Enjoy!" So Pleepleus was the first element of the Drinking Game. And thanks to my wife, he's now more famous than maybe me at times [laughs]. I think Pleepleus has like 2,000 MySpace friends. And he's a toy.
TV.com: MOJO is an all-HD programming network, but doesn't have the reach some other cable channels do.
Zane Lamprey: That's something that my friends will often say. "Hey, it's too bad it's not on a bigger network where you could have more exposure and all this and that, and everything that goes along with it." And I say, "Well, yeah, that'd be nice BUT the reason that the show is so successful is because it's on MOJO. And it's because MOJO lets us do whatever we choose to do." If I want to be weird and do some crazy thing, then MOJO watches it and thinks it's funny, they love it.
They're really hands off about it. I talk about my buddy, Steve McKenna, and I have a little stuffed monkey, and I'm always burping. No other network would let me become so weird. And the fact that it's weird I think is what makes it so relatable and so much fun to watch. We have done shows with bigger networks before, and they micromanage the s*** out of everything.
TV.com: Thanks for talking to us, Zane.
Three Sheets' third sesaon premiere gets uncorked tomorrow (Thursday, April 10) at 9 p.m. on MOJO HD. The first two seasons, as well as the third-season premiere, are also now available on Hulu.com.