Its fitting that Adam Richmans new Travel Channel show is called Adam Richmans Fandemonium. After all, this guy knows a thing or two about intense fans.
As the former host of Man v. Food, he built a fiercely loyal TV following.
My agents have commented that theyve never seen a client theyve ever had who people wanted to touch more than they touch me, Richman says. People slap my back, punch my arm, put me in headlocks, like, regularly!
Then, explaining their actions, they tell him, Its because I feel like I know you.
Theres just something so very approachable about Richman and he refuses to take it for granted.
Speaking for all celebrities, he says, Without our fans, none of us is relevant.
His new show, airing at 9 p.m. Sunday on Travel Channel, celebrates fandom of all kinds, from sports (Daytona 500 and the Kentucky Derby) to music (Bonnaroo) to eclectic events (Arctic Man Ski and Sno-Go Classic and Trucks Gone Wild).
And given his Man v. Food history, Richman never misses the chance to check out the food scene wherever he goes.
For Sunday nights episode, Medieval Madness, he paid a visit to the Scarborough Renaissance Festival in Waxahachie.
Here are some things that made a lasting impression on him about the North Texas event.
First of all, I never thought that I would ever see people tailgating at a Renaissance festival, Richman says. Theres a parking row where literally people will have themed tailgates, in 14th- to 17th-century period costumes, with period foods, because they stay in character.
The second thing is authenticity. They demand authenticity, not just from the performers but even us as a film crew. We couldnt have a golf cart or anything. We had to take our camera equipment around in a wooden cart and pull it around with wooden wheels and everything. The commitment to authenticity is second to none.
The third thing that impressed me is the scope of it. It is massive and completely immersive.
And Ill tell you this: Even members of my crew who at first turned up their noses at the idea of a Renaissance festival, expecting to be playing Dungeons and Dragons or something like that, by the end were making plans to come back with their families.
Richman had been kicking around the idea to do something about the eccentricities of fandom for quite some time.
The show concept predates his days of taking on extreme and unusual eating challenges on Man v. Food.
I used to work at Madison Square Garden in New York City, he explains. It always fascinated me that, in the span of one week, you could see Rangers hockey fans one night, then Knicks fans, then boxing fans, the fans of Juanes, then fans of the Cure, fans of the NFL draft and so on.
The common denominator is just always passion.
Richmans up close and personal look at fan culture sparked his interest in exploring why salt-of-the-earth, workaday people would feel such passion for their favorite sporting events or pastimes that they would invest an inordinate amount of time and money to celebrate it.
What is it that pushes them to these extremes? he says. What is it that makes them so passionate about this particular event?
Thats what Fandemonium is about and the show delves into these issues from a place of no judgment. Which is to say Richman doesnt make fun of the superfans he encounters; he celebrates them.
As a matter of fact, Richmans original working title for the show, before Travel Channel got involved, was Fan of the People. Because thats the truth, he says. I truly am a fan of fan culture.
Maybe thats why people find Richman so approachable. He genuinely seems to like and to be interested in the people and places he showcases in his TV shows.
I realize that the gist of being a good TV host is being a good guest, he says. So I go in with an open heart and an open mind and respect for these people.
Lets go in. Lets explore whatever I find. Just an honest, real assessment of good people doing cool things.