Alonzo Bodden is probably most widely known as a semi-regular panelist on the NPR show Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me. However, the Brooklyn native has done quite a bit of TV hosting. In 2008, he hosted 101 Cars You Must Drive for Spike TV. In 2010, he hosted Travel Channel's America's Worst Driver. His current project, if picked up, will return him to Spike TV with a show tentatively called To Catch a Car Guy.
"We go after dishonest car mechanics and car salesmen," he says. "Needless to say, if they pick it up we'll have material for years to come. They say finding a good mechanic is harder than finding a good doctor."
For Bodden, a former airplane mechanic, it's not unfamiliar territory. "I have an understanding of how everything works, and I do have a passion for it," he explains. "That's why I get called for these shows."
He has thoughts of landing an even bigger show though. "Now that Jeremy Clarkson has screwed up, I guess I'm one step closer to the big time."
Clarkson was, until recently, the host of the worldwide hit TV series Top Gear. He was sacked after a disagreement of some sort with the show's producers. His firing was one of the top stories on BBC World Service the day it was announced. "That show is a strange worldwide phenomenon," he says. "That would be like Pamela Anderson getting fired from Baywatch, but not nearly as good to look at."
For the new show, Bodden was able to draw, in part, on his own search for a mechanic. "I used to have an old Porsche 911," he notes. "I had this mechanic, one of these guys that's been around forever. He's worked on everything. But he won't work on newer Porsches."
Fortunately, that mechanic's son is adept at working on modern cars. "On new cars, I always say they should have a sign under the hood that says, 'none of your business.'"
While Bodden enjoys cars, and he's very comfortable hosting a show about them, it isn't quite his dream gig. "This one is going to be my third car show, which will be cool, but it's funny because I really love motorcycles," he states. "I keep ending up doing these car shows. It's like I'm cheating on my first love."
When he's not hosting car shows, Bodden is following current events for his appearances on Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me, as well as his standup set.
"Certain jokes write themselves," he says. "You have 47 senators write a letter to Iran. And these senators can't stand Barack Obama, but of course it's because of his policies, not who he is or his race. The funniest thing is when Iran explains to them, 'Well, actually the president is allowed to negotiate foreign policy, you're wrong.' Nothing like the Iranians explaining to our Congress how our government works."
IF YOU GO:
Alonzo Bodden Rick Bronson's House of Comedy 408 E. Broadway, Mall of America, Bloomington 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Friday; 9:45 p.m. Friday; 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; 9:30 p.m. Saturday $24.95 For tickets, call 952-858-8558 or visit houseofcomedy.net 18+; 21+ later shows