What we learned from TAR host Phil Keoghan’s AMA

In advance of Sunday’s premiere of The Amazing Race 24, which will bring back previous teams for another all-star season, the CBS show’s host Phil Keoghan did a Reddit Ask Me Anything on Friday.

While it’d be nearly impossible for him to answer all the questions he was asked, he didn’t answer most technical questions about the race (like about how customs is handled), and didn’t one that mentioned changes in the race and weakness of recent seasons, but did answer how ticklish he is (“I am ticklish - under my arms”).

And there were several answers throughout the full conversation that provided some insight into the show and Phil himself. Here are excerpts I’ve selected:

Whether he roots for certain teams:

“Yes, I’m always wanting some teams to do better than others. Sometimes just because I know that if they won, winning would have a really dramatic impact on their lives. It breaks my heart sometimes to have to eliminate a team and then there are other times I’m not that unhappy about it at all.”

What he does at pit stops between teams:

“People often ask me what I’m doing when I’m at the pit stop. Apart from briefing the greeter about how the show works and shooting the intro’s I need to do at the pit stop, 99% of my time is spent holding my phone and furiously writing down story notes about what’s happening with the teams. The information is coming from all those in production who learn anything new about what’s going on. If we didn’t have the ability to text on the show and sometimes make phone calls, it would be almost impossible for us to make the show. There are time where we are in such remote locations that I don’t get information beforehand and in those cases, I have to debrief the teams on the mat to get to the bottom of what’s happened. In addition, some production people have to physically bring me the information to me at the mat so I can administer the penalty. Of course, this is not my first choice, I would much rather know ahead of time.”

“As per my earlier answer, I am married to my cell phone for information about what’s going on. I don’t leave the pit stop. This is not the kind of show where there’s time to just hang out at a hotel. We spend our time working on logistics when we know that teams are going to be super late because we know we’re going to miss flights, which will have a domino affect on the rest of our incredibly tight 12 shows in 21 days schedule. There’s always the chance that a team may come to the mat accidentally before they’ve completed the course so, once again, I stay at the mat no matter what. One time, I was at the mat in Poland season 11 for 19 hours straight.”

How greeters are chosen:

The picking of the greeters is done in many different ways. Sometimes, it’s from local facilitators that make a suggestion, sometimes from our scout when we initially go to a new location. The great thing is that they’re interesting people everywhere so it’s not hard to choose.”

Why he doesn’t think behind-the-scenes episodes/specials would work:

“I don’t know how pretty a behind the scenes show about the race would be…or how entertaining for that matter. Trust me, I think the more entertaining part of what we do is what we share with you every week. There’s a lot of process sitting around and logistical nightmares to deal with that I just don’t think will make for good TV.”

Writing his own scripts:

“We start researching the show months in advance and then I start working on my scripts about a month out. The key is to give the audience some takeaway about what we’re going and the things we’ll be doing. So I work hard on interesting factoids since I know people love learning about the world which watching the amazing race. I love that the show not only entertains but also informs.”

The influence of tourism officials:

“We are constantly approached by tourism offices but we work independently - that’s not to say that we don’t pick up on some of their ideas as far as challenges go.”

Why CBS killed the web series Elimination Station:

“You know, that’s a very good question. I’m not sure what happened there, actually. I agree, it would be kind of fun to bring back!”

Who he’d run the race with:

“Well I have no desire at all to run the amazing race - let me just make that clear. However, if I was to run the race, my first choice would be my father. He’s one of the smartest people I know and we are extremely compatible traveling together. I first started traveling with him when I was 3 and in recent times we’ve gone on lots of great adventures together and our combination and personality just works for travel!”

His necklace:

“I have worn it on every season. It is an indigenous necklace from New Zealand which was given to me as a way of providing safety over water. It’s origins come from the Maori people of New Zealand. It’s actually a decorative fish hook. For the most part, they are carved out of bone or green stone.”

One of his favorite books:

“I think probably Longitude is one of my favorite books. It’s about an inventor who came up with the first clock who can keep accurate time at sea and consequently help explorers work the longitude around the world. I love stories about underdogs and this amazing man Harrison, was a carpenter who solved one of the greatest puzzles of his time. He was shunned by so-called scientists but ultimately he’s the only one that figured it out.”

How long the show will last:

“Well your guess is as good as mine on that! And I promise to keep on hosting as long as they want me!”

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