Jeff Foxworthy talks 'Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?' and its return to TV
Time to bust out Brain Quest and brush up on some elementary school trivia—Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? is back.
It has been more than four years since viewers have been able to test their grade-school smarts, and returning host Jeff Foxworthy says fans have spent that time eagerly waiting for the show to return.
Despite his doubts that the show would get a second life (“I thought, ‘They don’t do that…you know, once a show’s gone, it’s gone,’” he says), class is back in session and six new students are ready to help contestants win $1,000,000.
EW chatted with Foxworthy to get the details on how 5th Grader made a comeback and what’s new this time around.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did the show get a reboot? And what made you want to be part of it again?
JEFF FOXWORTHY: I did a thing with Mark Burnett last summer and we’re sitting there at dinner and he said, “You know, out of everything I’ve done, I love 5th Grader.” And I said, “Me too, it’s probably my favorite thing I’ve ever done on television.” And at the end of the year, FOX called and said, “You know what, we really want to bring this show back, would you be interested in still being the host?” And I’m like, “It’s my baby! I did the first one and it ended up in like 59 countries so yeah!”
Why do you enjoy hosting a show like 5th Grader?
I get to be funny. I didn’t have to act like I was Alex Trebek and I do all this stuff. And you could kind of bust on people in a nice way, because even if you’re getting them right, you can’t be too proud because 8-year-olds are answering these every day.
What do you personally love about the show?
It’s such a great premise—I remember when Mark Burnett first called me and said, “Would you like to host a game show?” And I thought, “No, that’s cheesy.” I said, “What’s the premise?” And he said, “Adults taking an elementary school test for a shot at a million bucks.” And I thought, “Oh that’s so brilliant, because everybody’s going to think they can do it, and you find out you can’t.”
Do you think that’s why it appeals to so many people?
It’s interesting because as a TV show, you have 10-year-olds who love it, you have parents of 10-year-olds who love it because they’re involved in the homework process, and then you have grandparents of 10-year-olds who love it.
How’s the new bunch of students?
This was such a great group of kids this year. Really smart, really kind… they were really rooting for people. It’s kind of interesting because during the course of filming a season on 5th Grader, you get really attached to these kids—you learn their pets names, you know their brothers and sisters. It must be what a teacher feels like because at the end of the year, then they’re gone and they’ve moved on.
Is there anything different about the show now?
We added a new thing to the show where at the $10,000 question, we pick a school somewhere around the country that needs something. Maybe playground equipment—in one case, it was a town where the industry had failed and the kids didn’t have lunch money. And so we did a Grade School Giveaway where if the contestant answers the question right—and we’re Skyping with this school and all their students—they win $10,000 for whatever they need. And to see the kids get into that, to do something kind for somebody, and see the audience—it was a great thing to add to the show.
Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? returns May 26 at 8 pm ET on FOX.