It's hard not to feel jealous of the contestants on Fire Me... Please. The CBS hidden-camera show (Tuesdays, 9 pm/ET) features freshly hired employees trying to get themselves fired for a $25,000 prize. These baristas and salesclerks let loose and loony at work, acting out many a low-wage toiler's revenge fantasy, while host Dave Holmes secretly watches all the dramedy go down from a nearby van. The former MTV personality — himself a runner-up in the music channel's reality experiment Wanna Be a VJ — tells TVGuide.com why his new gig is worth holding on to.
TVGuide.com: Had you been looking to do reality TV before you landed Fire Me?
Dave Holmes: Sure. For a while, it just seemed like every [reality show] was [about] having your face put back together or doing something really mean to somebody. This is funny and smart and not mean.
TVG: Do you really spend the whole day in the van while the contestants are at work?
Holmes: Yep. It's long [hours], but it's hilarious. These people are working hard all day to get people to fire them.
TVG: Let's be real. Are the contestants actors?
Holmes: They're people who've got some background in improv and that kind of thing, who can keep the ball in the air. I keep thinking I'd love to do it, but watching... god, I don't know.
TVG: What would you do to get fired?
Holmes: I think I'd start preaching [religion]. You really can't beat that. Just walk through the door and start preaching and see what happens.
TVG: When do the Fire Me players cross the line and become too cruel to their bosses and fellow employees?
Holmes: What I like about the show is that it never gets personal. It's the contestants who are making asses of themselves. There are no unwitting dupes or fools, because I think it would be hard to watch if they made fun of other people.
TVG: Who's been your favorite "employee" so far?
Holmes: My favorites are actually coming up [tonight]. This guy Dave Hill and this woman, Cat. Cat is in this tiny clothing store and she just sings all day long. It's just awesome; these poor people don't know what to do with her. And Dave just sits in a coffee shop all day long and does absolutely nothing. It doesn't sound that exciting, but it is.
TVG: Have you ever been fired from a job?
Holmes: Absolutely. I kind of bounced around the world of advertising for a few years before I got into [television]. At the beginning, I was the desk guy, which I'm not good at. I can talk my way into any kind of job, but actually doing the job is a very different thing. I talked my way into a big job that was a couple of levels ahead of what I should have been doing, and I got the ax after about two weeks because it was so obvious that I had no freakin' idea what I was doing.
TVG: Loved your guest appearance on Reno 911 as Dangle's ex-wife's fiancé last season. Will you be back?
Holmes: Yeah, [but] I think it's not until the fourth season. They shot the third and the fourth at the same time. Dangle's ex-wife and I come back, and there's a little bit of a love story between me and one of the other characters that lasts a couple of episodes. It has been a gas. You show up, they put you in a costume and they let the cameras run. It's totally improvised. The real challenge of Reno 911 is to give the editor a second before you start laughing. Then they can cut it together and make it look like a scene. Everybody's trying to crack each other up. I ruined take after take.
TVG: Watching any summer reality shows besides your own?
Holmes: I was in the audience of Hit Me Baby One More Time last week. We were down in the pit watching Vanilla Ice and it was awesome. I'm absolutely hooked on that one. I think they've got Wang Chung this week, and I wouldn't mind seeing what they've got in their bag of tricks. It's amazing how many bands they can pull out from under the rocks.