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‘The Prank Panel’: Johnny Knoxville, Eric Andre, Gabourey Sidibe Pull Elaborate Gotchas – With an Occasional Explosion

Beware! If you mess with the wrong person in an attempt to get them in a “gotcha!” moment, they might enlist Johnny Knoxville, Eric Andre and Gabourey Sidibe to get you right back! That is the trio’s mission in their new ABC show, “The Prank Panel.” And no one is safe – not even the cast themselves.

The concept of the show is simple: people come before the panel and pitch a prank they’d like them to pull on someone close to them who first pulled a prank on them. In other words, big time retribution. The panel then chooses one and does all the very elaborate dirty work.

After Jimmy Kimmel, the show’s producer, pulled the group together, Andre set his sight on pranking Sidibe. But he was messing with the wrong person.

“You tried to get me with the bugs that, but the bugs had no effect on you. How did that work out for you, Eric?” she laughed when the all sat down with TheWrap. “It didn’t work out well, did it? How much work did you put into getting those giant gigantic — what are they? — hissing cockroaches.”

“It was a weird amount of work and the amount of blood, sweat and tears I put in that request,” Andre laughed. “I was, like, campaigning for bugs. Oh. And then they didn’t work. Unfortunately.”

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So what would freak them all out? Knoxville was very interested to know.

“Go ahead Eric! You and Gabby go!” the “Jackass” co-creator pushed, hoping they’d spill.

“I don’t know if now is the time to answer that in front of Mr. Knoxville. He’s not the guy you wanna tell your phobias or pet peeves to,” Andre answered. “You don’t wanna give him a laundry list.”

Below the three stars tell us how they got involved, whose significant other was pulled into the mix, and the one prank that could had the unexpected appearance of a firearm.

(This transcript was condensed for clarity and space.)

Gabourey Sidibe, Johnny Knoxville and Eric Andre star on the ABC unscripted comedy “The Prank Panel” (ABC)
Gabourey Sidibe, Johnny Knoxville and Eric Andre star on the ABC unscripted comedy “The Prank Panel” (ABC)

TheWrap: I saw the first few episodes and it is really, really funny. First of all, how did the three of you come together to create this nonsense?

Johnny Knoxville: Jimmy Kimmel contacted me during the pandemic with this idea, and I thought it was a really great idea. He goes, “We’re gonna have to sit on it in a while,” because you know, of the pandemic. And then when we got up and running, he suggested Gabby as well, and I was like, “That’s a great idea.” Eric, how did you get involved? I mean, we all wanted you, but how did you get involved?

Eric Andre: Me? Jimmy called me. (laugh). You don’t remember?

Knoxville: I had concussions.

Andre: Yeah, I did Kimmel’s show and right when my interview ended, he goes, “Hey, me and Knoxville gotta call you. We got a show in mind,” and then you guys gave me a buzz. That was March of last year. Yeah. Show showbiz is slow biz.

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Gabourey Sidibe: I think I was in Canada shooting a movie in August and I had just pranked my husband into believing that I was going to be arrested by Canadian police. … And literally the next day I got an email about this show, and I think we started shooting in September. … I took the show because I was like, “Oh, maybe that’s a sign, that I would just randomly prank my husband for no reason.” And then I was like, look at the universe.

Gabby, you better look out for retribution from your husband.
Sidibe: One of the writers [on “The Prank Panel”] tried to become best friends with him in order to prank me. Ah-huh. But that writer doesn’t know that I actually set him up. When I first came in, he was like, “Maybe we’ll prank your husband.” And I was, “My husband’s bad at pranking, so it’d be smarter if you got together with him and pranked me. (laughs) The day my husband came in and he became friends with him immediately and tried to do it. But I did that because I know my husband will protect me. I thought it would keep me safe — and then they never pranked me.

Gabourey Sidibe stars in the ABC unscripted comedy, “The Prank Panel” (ABC)
Gabourey Sidibe stars in the ABC unscripted comedy, “The Prank Panel” (ABC)

Knoxville: Wow. Well, if there’s Season 2…

Some of the pranks you pulled that I saw were pretty severe. I like the fact that people are coming to you and saying, “I have this idea,” and then you get to choose which ones you’re going to do.
Knoxville: Yeah. And we will work off of that a lot of the time. Sometimes we’ll write a brand new prank, but the good thing is we go at these people pretty hard because they went at someone else really hard. They’ve pranked their mom, brother, sister. So they have it coming. And their brother, sister, et cetera, is working with us to make sure that they get it as good as they got. Maybe a little more than they got.

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And I hear Johnny and Eric tried to prank you, Gabby.
Sidibe: You tried to get me with the bugs that, but the bugs had no effect on you. How did that work out for you, Eric? (laughs) It didn’t work out well. How much work did you put into getting those giant gigantic — what are they? — hissing cockroaches.

Andre: It was a weird amount of work and the amount of blood, sweat and tears I put in that request. … I was, like, campaigning for bugs. Oh. And then they didn’t work. (laughs) Unfortunately.

Sidibe: I’m not afraid of bugs. My cats like bugs and I wanna get some of them for.

Andre: Yeah. They were like, um, soothing to you in a sense. (laughs) It’s pretty bad when a prank doesn’t work. It’s rough. It can be funny in a different sort of way.

Johnny Knoxville stars in the ABC unscripted comedy, “The Prank Panel” (ABC)
Johnny Knoxville stars in the ABC unscripted comedy, “The Prank Panel” (ABC)

Knoxville: Your disappointment here made it very funny. (laughs)

If somebody were to prank you guys, what would freak you out?
Knoxville: Hey, go ahead Eric! You and Gabby go!

Andre: I don’t know if now is the time to answer that in front of Mr. Knoxville. He’s not the guy you wanna tell your phobias or pet peeves to. (laughs) You don’t wanna give him a a laundry list.

Knoxville: When meeting the new cast members, I would ask like, “So what are you guys scared of?” And they hadn’t been through it before, so they would just readily tell me everything.

Have any pranks gone wrong this season?
Knoxville: With pranks, most of it goes wrong and you’re just constantly trying to get it back on track. But that’s what makes it exciting.

Andre: If you’re considering like, “life going wrong” is what you want for a prank. But if you’re talking about a prank failing, there was one where it was supposed to be a haunted house. … That one was great. That was incredible. There was a woman that had a gun — a 22 caliber — on her. (laughs) She didn’t believe any of the pranks, thank God. But if she did, she was packing heat.

“The Prank Panel” is produced by KIMMELOT and ITV America. Executive producers include Matt Silverstein and Dave Jeser, Jimmy Kimmel and Scott Lonker for KIMMELOT, Johnny Knoxville and Eric Andre, and Jordana Hochman, Bernie Schaeffer and Vin Rubino for ITV America.

“The Prank Panel” will air a special preview on Wednesday, May 24 on ABC and returns with new episodes in its regular time slot beginning Sunday, July 9.

Eric Andre stars in the ABC unscripted comedy, “The Prank Panel” (ABC)
Eric Andre stars in the ABC unscripted comedy, “The Prank Panel” (ABC)