Adam Richman’s ‘Fandemonium,’ visits N. Texas

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Adam Richman’s Fandemonium

• 9 p.m. Sunday

• Travel Channel

Posted 8:42am on Tuesday, Jul. 30, 2013

It’s fitting that Adam Richman’s new Travel Channel show is called Adam Richman’s 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 they’ve never seen a client they’ve 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, “It’s because I feel like I know you.”

There’s 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 night’s 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. “There’s 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 couldn’t 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 I’ll 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.”

Richman’s 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?”

That’s what Fandemonium is about — and the show delves into these issues “from a place of no judgment.” Which is to say Richman doesn’t make fun of the superfans he encounters; he celebrates them.

As a matter of fact, Richman’s original working title for the show, before Travel Channel got involved, was Fan of the People. “Because that’s the truth,” he says. “I truly am a fan of fan culture.”

Maybe that’s 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.

“Let’s go in. Let’s explore whatever I find. Just an honest, real assessment of good people doing cool things.”

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