It's a good thing Mark Labbett hasn't had to use his imposing frame to make a living. Despite being 6-foot-6, the British TV personality says his athletic skills, at best, would have made him a second-string lineman on a small college football team.
It's a different statistic that's earned Labbett the nickname "The Beast" — his IQ is 155. Given that the average IQ in America is around 100, Labbett's brain power makes him an all-star.
He will continue to show his intellectual prowess when the second season of the GSN game show "The Chase" begins Tuesday. In the series, hosted by Brooke Burns, the beauty to Labbett's "Beast," the British trivia expert goes against three challengers. All they have to do is get the answers to more questions right than Labbett, and they can take home thousands of dollars.
The trick is getting more questions right.
The GSN series is based on the British show of the same name. The biggest difference is that where Labbett is the lone brain in the U.S. version, he shares the duties with four other smarties in the British show.
He says he finds that the U.S. version makes him work harder because he knows it all comes down to him.
Labbett was selected to be on the American show because of his broader trivia base.
"American history has always been a stable of quizzes, so I knew that. But I was the most American-friendly because of things like I have been following the NFL since 1980. So, I had a lot of knowledge about America. The hardest are things that are purely American-based. … I had no idea what Baskin-Robbins was," Labbett says. "So, I have been doing extra work."
Not only does he have to work harder just because there are American elements he doesn't know, but Labbett has found American contestants are far more aggressive when it comes to playing the game.
In England, "The Chase" is looked at as more of an everyman kind of game show. That's why it's often more important to the players just to win the game — no matter how low the winnings — so that they can brag about the accomplishment.
Americans go for the gold. "I don't want to make my fellow countrymen mad, but American contestants are better. They are braver. All three contestants are usually from the academic world, competed in trivia contests or college bowls. It's a serious contest to them," Labbett says. "I love it when we get three good contestants because it guarantees a good match."
He adds that on all nine of the episodes in the second season, any of the teams could have beaten him and in more than half of the episodes, the winner isn't determined until the the final seconds.
Labbett brings impressive credentials to the game. The Wales native earned a master's degree in mathematics at Oxford University to go along with a degree in secondary education from the University of Exeter. He has built up a broad knowledge through competing in trivia contests for years.
But "The Beast" does have a few weaknesses. "The one category where I do the worst is soaps. I don't do them. Life is too short," Labbett says. "As for the other areas, it's part of my job to work on my weaknesses. I was really weak in the area of food and drink and so I got a book that covered food terms from A to Zed."
The training is because Labbett has a very competitive nature and never backs away from hiding his frustrations over a loss. For him, winning is a matter of pride. That's why he tries to stay away from those people who want to challenge him to a trivia contest when he's at a local pub.
"They want to play me on local subjects that I know nothing about," Labbett says. "When they challenge me, they always say, 'You can't really be that good.' I say 'Yeah, we are.' "
TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, email@example.com or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.