Interview: "Billy on the Street" Host Billy Eichner Talks His Pop Culture Game Show & Arguing With Homeless People

Interview: "Billy on the Street" Host Billy Eichner Talks His Pop Culture Game Show & Arguing With Homeless People

You're pretty fearless when it comes to approaching strangers. How does that translate over to your love life?
It translates pretty effectively. Whenever I hook up with someone, I put my mouth right near their ear and I start screaming about Maggie Gyllenhaal.

Your back and forth with the pedestrians in your Billy On The Street promo is very entertaining. What exactly causes you to zero in on the people you pick? Are there certain things that draw you to them?
I often find that the more I try to predict who will be funny, the less right I am. You really never know who's going to be opinionated and want to talk to me. So we really just go out there, start walking, start filming and see where the day takes us. What you're seeing on the show is exactly how we filmed it. People can't believe it's real, but it is!

You clearly have plenty of characters to work with here in New York City, but what encouraged you to film the show on these streets as opposed to another major city?
Well, I grew up in New York and I'm a die-hard New Yorker. New Yorkers are the greatest and they give as good as they get. Plus, I love the diversity in New York—I have fans who don't live here that always notice the diversity of the people I encounter, and I love that. I think it would be fun to shoot in other cities, too, but New York is where it's at.

 

Don't come to my city and shop at a bakery just because you saw it on Sex And The City in 1999. I don't go to your farm in Iowa and start building baseball fields like in Field Of Dreams.

 

We've noticed you have a particular affinity for 23rd street. Care to explain?
Yeah, it's funny. I don't really know, but that neighborhood [Chelsea] always has a lot of great characters—and is a very diverse neighborhood as well. So it's always fun to film there and we get great contestants on that street!

Do you ever reflect back on any of your interactions and wonder if you were a little hard on cerain passersby?
Not really! I'm a heartless beast! Just kidding.

You hated pretty hard on some people outside Magnolia Bakery in one of your videos. Have some bad experiences there?
Look, don't come to my city and shop at a bakery just because you saw it on Sex And The City in 1999. I don't go to your farm in Iowa and start building baseball fields like in Field Of Dreams.

You also seem to have a particularly frightening effect on Asian women. They always seem to run away the moment you appear. Why do you think that is?
I don't know! I love Asian women and I wish they loved me back! I am on a personal quest to remedy this. I plan on starting a new version of the Joy Luck Club.

You've made your love for Meryl Streep well known in your video series. Would you say she's your favorite actress? And who do you find unbearable to watch?
She's definitely one of my favorites, obviously. I just feel so bad for poor Glenn Close, who will have to lose another Oscar to Meryl this year. Her arch nemesis from the 1980s! The whole thing's a nightmare. I can't bare it. In other news, I think Queen Latifah needs to go away and be a bus driver or something.

Since the promos began airing, have you experienced a lot more people running up to you as opposed to having to chase strangers down?
There's been a little of that, but only a handful of times. It's a different dynamic when people come up to me, but it's actually fun cause they're game for anything and ready with all kinds of insane opinions about me, my show, celebrities, everything. Again, New Yorkers are the greatest. I can't get enough of them. I love them. Even when I'm screaming at them in the face.

What's been your most memorable on-the-fly Q&A?
Oh boy, there have been a lot. Recently, a semi-toothless homeless man and I got into a full-on argument about—what else—Meryl Streep vs. Glenn Close! And he preferred Glenn Close and I was screaming at him, but he wouldn't back down and held his ground. It was insane, shocking even to me, and one of my favorite moments in the first season for sure.

Any final words?
Sure...watch it on Fuse! If you're into pop culture, I think you'll enjoy it. And if not, you can tweet me about how much you hate it. That's what people do now! 

Written by Lauren Otis (@LaurNado)

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Tags: billy-eichner, billy-on-the-street, fuse, funny-or-die, new-york, game-shows
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