Jon Kelley is funny, serious, self-deprecating, and a lot like Anderson Cooper

Now that the new host of The Mole has been announced, there’s an obvious question: Is Jon Kelley up to the challenge? Ahmad Rashad did okay with the show’s blend of witty seriousness and quasi-farce, but he also presided over a bastardized version of the series that had celebrities, not regular people, as its cast. His predecessor, Anderson Cooper, really set the standard, combining dry wit and self deprecation with a warm, friendly presence tempered by objective detachment.

So what do we know about former Extra correspondent Jon Kelley, who we won’t see on screen until the show debuts May 26? Based on three clips of his past TV work, he looks like a near-perfect candidate, and on screen comes across a lot like the show’s first host. First, he’s not afraid of having fun, although he’s upstaged by his celebrity co-star in this lighthearted advertisement for Extra:

However, he can also be serious and talk about subjects intelligently, and also casually name-drop celebrities using their first names only (“Ashton and Demi”). Here he is discussing the effects of Hurricane Katrina:

Perhaps best of all, he’s no stranger to ABC reality shows–and could be more like Anderson than his biography suggests. At the very least, he’s not above having some fun and flirting with fellow TV stars:

Extra: Close to the Stars (Eva), Jon Kelley- ROckworks Riff, and Extra: Dancing with Carrie Ann Inaba [YouTube]

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.