J-Roc to Joe Schmo
Trailer park denizen on U.S. reality show
HALIFAX -- From wannabe gangsta to gotta-be-gay guy -- J-Roc is going from the trailer park to the mansion. Jonathan Torrens, who plays an obnoxious rapper on the hit Trailer Park Boys, will be living it up in Joe Schmo 2, the follow-up to Spike TV's hit series premiering Tuesday.
The well-known Canadian TV personality will star as Gerald ("with a hard-G"), a well-groomed restaurant worker who's in touch with his feminine side.
"I just devoured this show as a consumer the first time it went by. I just thought it was so cool," the 31-year-old Torrens said recently from Oakville, Ont.
"So when I got a chance to audition for this untitled-reality-improv project -- because of the secretive nature of the show, they can't say 'Who wants to audition for Joe Schmo?' -- I hoped in my heart of hearts it was Joe Schmo 2."
The faux-reality show attracted lots of viewers last year to its Big-Brother-Survivor-style parody: a cast of actors privy to a pre-determined storyline living with a real competitor who's unaware of the prank.
The show's finale drew 3.4 million viewers last October.
The new season features two innocents -- Joe and Jane Schmo -- in a sort of The Bachelor-The Bachelorette spoof, an elimination game show called Last Chance for Love, set in a Los Angeles mansion with host Derek Newcastle. The challenge? Find a soul-mate and win big bucks.
"Reality shows are evolving, or devolving, so rapidly that in order to parody a reality show -- these are shows that parody themselves -- you have to do such outlandish things," said Torrens. "And yet, it is such a horrible, devastating comment on this type of show, that it isn't that outlandish."
Torrens, who has also starred on the CBC's Street Cents and later on Jonovision, earned the role after spending the better part of a year in Los Angeles, while making trips back to Canada for Trailer Park Boys and roles on This Hour Has 22 Minutes and Degrassi: The Next Generation.
He's back in Halifax tomorrow for a Trailer Park Boys writing retreat, it's his first season as a writer for the show, before heading to California for Joe Schmo 2's debut.
His character's background, he said, was borrowed from his own life.
"Gerald is a bus boy at an all-you-can-eat floating lobster restaurant. Do you remember when that was down on the (Halifax) waterfront? I used to work there," he laughs.
"My real-life girlfriend, Samantha (Mitschka) became my hot roommate, Sam."
And, by the way, he's secure in his masculinity: "I don't think the effeminate, metrosexual or is-he-homosexual guy is the worst of it. I'll take the gotta-be-gay guy over the stalker guy any time."