It's clear that the network couldn't have found a better host for Figure It Out: Sutphen has a passion for his job and knows Nickelodeon game shows from every conceivable angle short of being a contestant. "I came from a producing background and ended up hosting things as an accident," he tells me. "I, from a very young age, knew I wanted to work in television. I went to school to become a producer. It wasn't like I just did production to end up in front of the camera. Production was my first love.
"I think both sides of the camera have their positives. Hosting, I just have so much fun. My job is to stand here, act like an idiot, and slime people. Production, I look at it as like a challenge or a puzzle. I think the best scenario for me is like on BrainSurge; I was a producer on that as well as a host. I came in every day and I helped create the puzzles and the stories. That makes me a better host, because the more connected to the material I am, I know it much better."
Hosting Figure It Out has already led to some pretty memorable moments for Sutphen. "We had one contestant, I think he was probably about six or seven, and his talent was he was a circus sideshow performer, and he could lay on a bed of nails. He was sitting in the chair next to me while we were shooting, and the panelists had guessed the Word of Honor," he explains. "He had realized at that split second that was the word that was going to get him slimed, and it was unbelievable. He spun and jumped out of the chair and ran behind me, and ran off the side of the stage. And I was like, 'What just happened?' I ran after him, at which point he darted backstage. I grabbed him, I carried him back out on the stage, and I held him in the seat as they slimed him." Talk about an interesting day at work!
While the ratings for Figure It Out so far look healthy and he's happy to be there, Sutphen has other aspirations for his career as well. "I would like to have my own late-night variety talk show," he tells me. "I love [David] Letterman. I think there's nobody better in the business. If I could have a show like that, that'd be beautiful for me. Letterman and Jon Stewart, I could watch those two all day long." He then adds with a laugh, "I could never do what Jon Stewart does, he's way too smart!"
What are some of his other favorites? "My favorite show right now, which I'm totally psyched [for], is Suits on USA. That show is awesome," he says. "USA, they've really gotten so good, between Suits, White Collar, Necessary Roughness, Royal Pains...I watch every single one of those. My favorite show was Friday Night Lights. That was such a good show. When it was over, I couldn't wait for the next episode."
Sutphen knows what makes a good series: he's experienced both behind and in front of the camera, affable and unafraid to be self-deprecating, and considerate of fans both old and new. That extends to off-camera, such as their desire for him to join social media. "there are some fans out there that are asking if I do Twitter," he says. "If my fans could give me an idea of what they're looking for, what they would want from me in a Twitter account, then I could be convinced." Get on that, Figure It Out fans!
As for his own personal outlook, he sums it up thusly: "I don't look at what I do as work. I have a good time doing it. That's what I base my reputation on, is if you hire me, we're going to have a good time working. I'm genuinely excited to do what I do," he says, "and that shows across the board." With a positive attitude like that, and the know-how to go with it, Nickelodeon is lucky to have him. If he's got the best job in the world, he's certainly earned it.
Figure It Out airs Monday-Friday at 7 PM ET/PT on Nickelodeon.
For more from Brittany Frederick, visit my Starpulse writer page and follow me on Twitter (@tvbrittanyf).
(c)2012 Brittany Frederick/Digital Airwaves. Appears at Starpulse with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted.