Turkish-born Ennis Esmer is probably best known to Canadians who tune in every Friday night at 8 p.m. to watch him as Osman ‘Oz’ Bey, on the popular CTV show, The Listener. But Esmer won’t only be recognized for being a supernatural paramedic’s best friend for much longer.
The 32-year-old actor will host the highly-anticipated, Wipeout Canada, which premieres Sunday night on TVtropolis, alongside his co-anchor Jonathan Torrens (of Trailer Park Boys fame) and field reporter, Jessica Phillips (Republic of Doyle and Being Erica).
“I think it’s realizing the lifelong dream of making fun of people for falling down,” said the actor, adding that his favourite challenge on the course is, “watching the contestants try to salvage their dignity, while being ridiculed.”
The dignity Esmer speaks of is often illusive on the hilariously difficult four-round course, as contestants attempt tackling obstacles like the dizzy dummy, the sucker punch wall and the wipeout zone to try and score the $50,000 grand prize. Of the winning sum, Esmer said there are a lot of reasons why people compete for the money.
“Some want it to put their kids through school, some to pay off debt. One person wanted to go on a shopping spree at Costco,” he said. “I don’t know how you could spend $50,000 at Costco though.”
I’m not sure either, but clearly someone who is willing to spend $50,000 shopping at the ultimate bulk store must be a character – as many of the contestants who appear on Wipeout, are.
“I think people just really want to be on television,” said Esmer, “almost more than they want the money. There’s a wide-range of physical specimens on the show, some real characters. And there are definitely contestants who try to make themselves stand out as villains.”
According to Esmer, it’s that same range of personalities on the show that causes Wipeout Canada to be so enjoyable for at-home viewers.
“I think it can be really cathartic for people. You know, on the show there’s someone that looks like your jerk-of-a-boss, and you see them trying to dig themselves out of the mud, embarrassing themselves, it’ fun.”
The viewers at home aren’t the only ones having fun at the expense of the contestants though. Esmer, who writes for the show as well, said that he and co-anchor Jonathan Torrens have a great dynamic, though viewers at home shouldn’t expect the duo to be polar opposites.
“On the American show one is very much like a sports commentator and the other, comedic relief. On Wipeout Canada, we go back and forth a lot.” Esmer jokes that Torrens, as a Canadian-born blonde, and he, as a brunette immigrant also, “cover the whole Canadian spectrum.”
But making fun of people for falling down is only one of Esmer’s day jobs. Currently, he is also reprising his role as Oz Bey, the partner and paramedic of The Listener himself, on the second season of the CTV show. Though the roles are unalike, Esmer appreciates the value of both.
“They’re obviously very different, but I’m fortunate in this industry to work two jobs, and I’m very happy to do both. Working on one helps you to appreciate the other.”
And because Esmer loves both his roles, don’t expect to see him competing on Wipeout anytime soon.
“I think the instinct for me is the same, to be able to get out there and perform. I don’t even dress up for Halloween anymore because I don’t feel like I need the attention, I’m satisfied creatively.”
And even though Esmer would never risk getting “smoked in the choda” by going on the show, he did have some advice for aspiring Wipeout wannabes.
“Talk to a therapist. I think some of the contestants need to talk to a career counselor, because a few of them have pretty wild jobs.”
And if you’ve already dealt with a shrink and still decide to try your luck on the Wipeout course, Esmer advises to “really focus on balance. Seriously, people really need to work on their balance.
You don’t know what you’re in for,” he adds.
Tune in to TVtropolis on Sundays at 8 p.m. to catch people falling down for money – and Ennis Esmer making fun of them – on Wipeout Canada.