Patton Oswalt Wants You to Join The 1% Club (2024)

Patton Oswalt Wants You to Join The 1% Club (1)

Patton Oswalt hosts The 1% Club (Photo: Amazon Studios)

Despite its exclusive-sounding title, The 1% Club is really anyone’s game.

The Prime Video adaptation stays true to the ongoing British original of the same name, offering as level a playing field as any game show we’ve seen. There’s no real preparation you can do before heading into the massive arena, where 100 players solve logic puzzles as host Patton Oswalt genially presents them. Extensive knowledge of some obscure subject or history won’t come in handy, so don’t bother cramming. You can also save the pop culture trivia, Oswalt’s domain and the basis for Amazon’s upcoming Jeopardy! spin-off. This race isn’t necessarily going to the swiftest either; everyone’s playing under the same time constraints, so there’s no ringing in first to answer.

In his first hosting role, Oswalt makes a point of letting players and viewers know that “anyone can win” isn’t just a logline, it’s the show’s ethos. The versatile, perpetually booked actor — who’s been in everything from TheKing of Queens to Apple TV+’s Manhunt — tells Primetimer that’s precisely what appealed to him.

“I can honestly say on this show, truly anyone can win. We can have a physicist from Oxford go up against a guy that runs his own bicycle repair shop, and the bicycle repair shop guy just annihilates [him].”

Premiering today on Prime Video, with a second viewing window June 3 on Fox, The 1% Club will appear familiar to anyone who’s seen the classic game show Family Feud. Producers haveposed questions to 100 regular people, and then, based on how many of them get each question right, created categories based on the percentages of respondents who get them right. Each episode begins with a 90% question (so, not too easy), with contestants keying in answers in the studio while a clock ticks away.

Oswalt takes time in between rounds to get to know both the contestants who are advancing and those who have been eliminated, quipping to keep people in good spirits as their chances begin to run out or they’re faced with a tough choice (at one point, to take the money they’ve banked so far and run).

It’s all in pursuit of a $100,000 prize and bragging rights, though viewers at home can easily snag the latter by turning to their family or friends after, say, correctly identifying the pattern in a 25% question. But there is real suspense in the lack of clear frontrunners — as Oswalt asks contestants about their backgrounds, we learn just how much “like us” they really are.

“That's what made it so exciting,” Oswalt says. “There were people that, yeah, it makes sense that they are here in the 1% because they're a nuclear physicist. But there were also people that were neurodivergent, there were people that had quit high school. There was absolutely no pattern, no rhyme, no reason, nothing” to who advanced in the game.

“It is more about how the brain works,” Oswalt went on, “and how you approach situations, and how you listen and interpret things. That's really key. You'll see that a lot in the show, when people get things wrong and they realize, ‘Oh, it was part of the way the question was asked.’ You've really got to listen to the question because a lot of times these questions, they'll give you the answer, you just don't realize they're giving you the answer.” (There’s some free advice for you, if you want to try to join The 1% Club.)

”It's so clear, especially watching the show, logic cuts across race, age, gender, even life experience. We all have our own logic machine that works the way it's going to work or not work, and you can feed it, and you can develop it, but we are all wired differently.”

The Sandman actor brings a distinctive energy to his first hosting gig; he’s not emulating any of the greats, like Richard Dawson or Alex Trebek, nor is he trying to reinvent the wheel. More than anything, Oswalt comes across as a coach — someone who’s in this with you, but who can’t resist ribbing a contestant who lets their anti-mermaid bias slip. He’s a natural, which is why we can’t help but ask why it’s taken so long to host a game show.

Oswalt admits, despite his great run on Celebrity Jeopardy! and his penchant for playing obsessives, that he struggled to see himself in the role of host. “I didn’t think I would be a good fit,” he says, though once Amazon made the offer and shared episodes of the British series, he was more than intrigued. The original “was so engaging and energizing. Rather than me just reading off questions and saying did you get it right or wrong, this is looking at how the human brain actually works.” He found the gameplay “weirdly fascinating, and I love the fact that some of the people that get the 1% question– it's like someone who's working in a retail store smoked someone who has three PhDs.”

The actor-comedian-writer-trivia-nerd jokes about his own odds on The 1% Club — “My brain is about useless facts. There needs to be a game show called Useless Facts, and I would annihilate on that one” — but has a pretty clear sense of which of his many characters could enter the highest rungs ofThe 1% Club, and which would fail spectacularly.

“I think the one that would probably fall out first is my character in Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, Wartzki, because it's all weird occult trivia that has nothing to do with... that's why he's in the basem*nt of the New York Public Library,” Oswalt laughs. But the one who’d get the furthest is obvious: “Constable Bob from Justified, because people underestimate Bob at their peril.” Now that’s an answer 100% of viewers can agree with.

The 1% Club premieres May 23 on Prime Video and June 3 on Fox.

Danette Chavez is the Editor-in-Chief of Primetimer and its biggest fan of puns.

Patton Oswalt Wants You to Join The 1% Club (2024)
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