Kenny Mayne is the funniest man in Bristol. And, no, that is not the equivalent of being the tallest man at the midget convention. (Sorry.. little people convention.) He’s left the Sportscenter desk behind in order to work on things like the Mayne Event on NFL countdown and Mayne Street, a full on internet show. A new episode hits ESPN tomorrow.
And now, he’s decided to slum it a bit, and have a conversation with SportsCracklePop.
SCP: I think a lot of people have a vague idea about your background (playing football at UNLV, etc.) Can you get a little more specific? How did you go from athlete to broadcaster? Was TV something you always considered as a potential career?
KM: I don’t know if I was called an athlete or not. I could and still can throw things fairly well. When I found out that I sucked and baseball and basketball I put all my energy into football. I walked on and off at the Unv of Washington. I went to Community College in Wenatchee, Washington. Then I walked on at UNLV where I won a scholarship. I was 2nd string there but got a free agent deal with the Seahawks (as strike insurance, I suppose). I failed the physical for my ruined right ankle and never played again. I didn’t want to be in sports broadcasting at all. I wanted to be a more serious journalist. To this day I follow news better than sports. But when I got a job in Seattle (KSTW) I drifted toward sports television-the path of least resistance, I guess. So no, I didn’t grow up dreaming of being a sportscaster. I saw myself covering wars, making documentaries. As it turns out I am not really a sports broadcaster any longer. I make up stories about sports…and still read and watch a lot of real news.
SCP: I think the first inkling anyone got about Sportscenter hosts being more than just ordinary sportscasters may have been the “This is Sportscenter” commercials. Almost to a man (or woman,) everyone seems very natural and at ease acting in those spots. Is that just luck, or is there something else to it? Which one of those commercials is your favorite, either with or without you?
KM: I love the Charlie Steiner “Follow me to Freedom” Y2K spot. It’s my favorite. Of mine, I like the time I stared at cloud shapes with Mutombo and my very first spot-“Rookie”-when the premise was that I thought I was a big star for making it to ESPN. Those shoots are not very hard-likewise any ad work I’ve done. You just have to memorize a line or two and then play with it a bit. I wish I were still doing SC promos but I’ve been banned from them since I am not on SC any longer.
SCP: The Mayne Street webisodes and the Mayne Event packages on Sundays have helped you carve out a pretty unique niche at ESPN. Do you think comedy is something you would ever consider doing full time? Do you have any thoughts about making a Craig Kilborn like transition from ESPN to Hollywood? Afterall, you’ve already Danced with the Stars.
KM: We were halfway to Hollywood this past year. I think our plane landed in Iowa and then turned back. Mayne Street had a shot to go to ABC but the deal sort of broke down. I’m always up for looking at new things. I read for a Will Ferrell movie but didn’t land the part. I’ll stand by the phone.
SCP: It’s pretty clear the Kenny Mayne character and Kenny Mayne are not the same person. Stephen Colbert has said people sometimes have trouble telling the difference between his character and the real guy. Do you have similar issues? Do you think the Kenny Mayne character would ever make it hard for you to cover a straight sports story again?
KM: Actually I think the character I play on our little show or on Mayne Event for TV is pretty close to the real me. It’s not much of an act. Yes, we plan ahead a bit and write lines and so forth but it’s not like I am taking on a brand new personality. The things I say on Mayne Street or in Mayne Event are rather close to what I would say in real life with no cameras. The worldview is the same.
SCP: Can you discuss this season of Mayne Street? There have been a lot of celebrity cameos.
KM: We landed Scott Van Pelt and Travis Pastrana this time around. I think they’re both famous. But on the big scale of star power we might have regressed just a bit this season. Last time we had Ben Stiller, Jimmy Kimmel, Adam Carolla.. Good guys, all.
SCP: We discuss the intersection of sports and politics on this site a lot. If you had to pick one of these athletes turned candidates to vote for, who would it be? Chris Dudley, Jon Runyan or Jerry Tarkanian’s son?
KM: I’ll go with Tark’s son though I am not familiar with all of his politics. I just know he was schooled well in political dealings given all his father went through with the NCAA and the courts.