USA is enjoying summer in a different way – with a reality series taking us back to fond memories of Summer Camp. One of the lucky folks competing in different takes on various camp games is Mikey Benzaia, tongue-in-cheekly described on the network website as “The Smart Ass.” BFTV recently chilled out with Mikey so that we could get to know him better, and found out that Summer Camp wasn’t his first time on TV.
“A big portion of what I did before this was TV hosting,” he said, finding himself intrigued by the idea that “I could be on a show that could be my favorite time of life, which was summer camp, and get my thing out there.”
Enjoying summer camp (and having been both a camper and a counselor) doesn’t mean he’s a savant, though. “I passed radiological physics, and I can tell you about physics and everything,” he added with a laugh, “but then when I have to put together something for camping…”
But there’s definitely no physics test on Summer Camp; instead, the “campers” have been playing versions of games like Spin the Bottle and, in this week’s episode, Truth or Dare. Mikey is having fun with all of it, and the East Coast native – who is originally from New York and went to school with a few alums from Jersey Shore – hopes that audiences are enjoying it right along with him. “When you watch these shows there’s a lot of personality,” he explained. “I’m the fun prankster smartass. If I can make someone laugh, I’m doing my job.”
Even if there’s been a little bit of culture shock as he interacted with fellow campers from all across the country and all walks of life, including a soldier, a yogi and a pageant queen. “I’m from New York, where everyone is like me,” he said, “so when I meet this girl from the South who’s very quiet, I don’t realize how much I come across. Or how much I like to talk. It cracks me up.”
“It was the coolest experience because you get to meet all different types of people,” he continued. “I’ve never really been to the Midwest or the South. Justin, when he showed up with his gear on and that whistle, meeting someone like that was a little like going to Disneyland. You start to learn from these people.”
Then there’s a matter of being seen on national television exactly as you are, wisecracking all the way. “When you have cameras following you 24 hours a day, you forget,” Mikey told us with a laugh. “My dad’s like ‘I’m going to have to go into the witness protection program!'”
But the truth is there really isn’t too much for his father to worry about. Mikey’s provided much of the comic relief over Summer Camp’s limited run, and part of his not-changed-for-TV personality – “it’s all real,” he assured us – is that underneath the jokes, he’s very genuine. He takes his newfound fame with a grain of salt, referring to himself as “just some guy on a reality show.” He also makes a point of interacting with as many fans as possible through his Twitter and Facebook accounts (which you can find at the end of this article).
And he’s passionate about the charities he works with, including CROC (Citizens Reunited to Overcome Cancer) Alumni – in honor of his late mother’s fight with breast cancer – and Friend Movement, an anti-bullying campaign. “I want to make sure I can do as much charity work as I can while I’m in the spotlight,” he said.
So once the fun and games are over, and everyone has gotten back on the bus, what does Mikey hope to gain from Summer Camp? He hopes to parlay his outgoing personality into future TV gigs. “After this, I would love to host a reality show or like a reunion special,” he revealed. “I really would like to link up with my own reality show.” As entertaining as he is every Thursday night on USA, this shouldn’t be the last time we’ll see Mikey on the small screen.
An all-new Summer Camp airs tomorrow night at 8 PM ET/PT on USA. You can also keep up with Mikey on Twitter (@Only1MikeyB) and on Facebook (facebook.com/only1mikeyb17).
And if you’re a fan of Summer Camp, be sure to enter my Summer Camp contest to win a show-themed prize pack with all sorts of summer fun supplies!
(c)2013 Brittany Frederick. Appears at Examiner with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted. Visit my official website and follow me on Twitter at @tvbrittanyf.