"Fear Factor’ failure: It was quick | SummitDaily.com
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"Fear Factor’ failure: It was quick

I am a “Fear Factor” failure. The thought of trying out for the popular show that bribes normally intelligent people to do stupid human tricks in the hopes of securing higher Nielsen ratings for NBC had never crossed my mind.

Like Americans everywhere, I sat at home on Monday nights watching Darwinism in action as big-busted women and buff men put mind over matter to overcome their fears and eat things like pig rectums or agree to be buried in a coffin filled with worms.

Like most sane people, I enjoy watching the ick section of the show where contestants eat things like 100-year-old eggnog, reindeer testicles and cow snout. I enjoyed it from the non-ickiness of my living room. I guess I could gag down the contents of a rotten duck egg, I said. I think I could hang on for my life to a “bucking” barrel dangling from a swirling helicopter. But munching down a Madagascar hissing cockroach … I don’t know.



Then I heard “Fear Factor” was coming to town, and I was all over it. Don’t ask what came over me. Maybe it was the allure of the $50,000 prize. Maybe it was the idea of being able to say I tried. Maybe it was because making the cut would impress my daughter and mortify my mother – two of my primary missions in life.

I studied for the casting tryouts. I thought of questions they might ask me – and the witty answers I would provide. I developed strategies for hanging on to I-beams 100 feet in the air. I practiced holding my breath for the swimming challenges. I ate my husband’s cooking.



Ultimately, however, I had to admit it. I was doomed from the start because of Mother Nature. My chest isn’t big enough. And I don’t wear makeup. My hair isn’t blond, and I can’t get the ditz thing down.

But I was going to try.

Armed with a pen, identification, photograph of myself and my hopes and dreams, I waited in line with about 200 other “Fear Factor” freaks.

They bragged about their skydiving and bungee cord jumping experiences. Others said they’d eaten things in foreign countries they still don’t want to think about. One man used to drag race. One is an ex-Marine. Another had no regard for his personal safety. Ice climbing, hydroplane racing, cliff diving – they’d done it all.

There were doubts, too. Some women said they wouldn’t make it because they didn’t have the cup size to qualify. Some men said they thought “Fear Factor” should pick scrawny guys, too. We all laughed, quietly, but we knew they were right.

The woman interviewing us said the ideal contestants were there because they believed being on the show would be fun. “Fear Factor” was looking for people who wanted to push the limits of their mental and physical envelopes. They were looking for Jane and Joe Colorado.

I was perfect!

I was applicant No. 32, and that was about how many seconds I lasted in the group interview. They asked me to tell them what I did before I married. I guess they weren’t impressed with my having danced the dance that never ends to the music that never stops on Grateful Dead tour.

And that was it. I was done. Finis. Caput. See-ya!

Under the guise of a working journalist, I followed the producer to the bus where he was going to interview a couple that made the first cut. She was blond and perky; he was suave and buff. They were perfect, and I hated them both.

He didn’t look like he could unlock her from a submerged glass box before she ran out of air! She didn’t look like she could eat a cow’s spinal cord! Neither looked like they could walk across a beam 100 feet in the air!

I could; I know I could!

All is not for naught, however. I got the idea of what it would be like to have $50,000. I got to think about my physical limitations. I pondered the concept of exoskeletons in my mouth. I mortified my mother. I impressed my daughter. I tried out for “Fear Factor” – and I have the T-shirt to prove it.

Next time, they’ll pick me. I’m bringing my Miracle Bra.

Jane Stebbins can be reached at

(970) 668-3998 ext. 228 or

jstebbins@summitdaily.com. Her column appears Wednesdays, and some say that

is “Fear Factor” enough.


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