Exclusive: Mo Mandel on "Small Town Throw Down" Discovery Special.

By Behind the Scenes in Hollywood Archives
Cover image for  article: Exclusive: Mo Mandel on "Small Town Throw Down" Discovery Special.

Small Town Throw Down is telecast Wednesday, May 20, 10pm on Discovery. Touring the country doing stand-up, comedian Mo Mandel (pictured at top) has seen much of America. It was during those travels that his fascination with the reputations many of the places he visited was born, and he began wondering what makes a place the 'The Drunkest', 'The Smelliest', or 'The Most Boring' town in America? So Mandel set about to unveil the truth behind the monikers giving rise to the Discovery Channel special Small Town Throw Down. "I grew up in the tiny town of Boonville, CA, that has about 700 people," Mandel explained during an exclusive interview with MediaVillage. "Because it's called Boonville, and it's a small place and a little like The Boonies, I'd always get made fun of. Still, I had a real appreciation for the place, how great it was, and that's something that always stuck with me. So as a standup comedian always out on the road, there were these towns around America that people made fun of without ever checking out how great they were; towns I loved, and I'd ask myself, 'Why do people make fun of them?' They were great places and [to me] that sucked.

"I noticed more and more on the Internet there would be articles trashing certain towns as it seemed like a fun thing for people to do," he continued. "That's what inspired the idea for the show - - let these towns speak for themselves - - and find out how they got their names?"

For the special, Mandel visited three with various reputations: 'The Drunkest' (Appleton, Wi), 'The Smelliest' (Coalinga, CA), and 'The Most Boring' (Lubbock, TX). Some were new to him, others he'd previously experienced, but he relied on research as the ultimate decision to venture there. "I'd visited Appleton in 2010," he shared. "Interestingly, I used to drink a lot myself so I can't say it was indicative of how much drinking took place there, or just how much drinking was going on in my life at the time. But there was definitely a lot of drinking, however, that was mostly my fault. In fairness, I don't remember much about going there. But there were some very different activities on this trip and it was phenomenal (like a polar plunge (pictured below) as a possible hang-over cure). I remember it as being a great place but it was even more 'cool' this time and the people were so friendly and so proud of the town. It was like growing up in Boonville. They were so proud of the community and excited to show off the parts that don't get the clickbait attention online.

"I'd never been to Lubbock, TX, but it was really heartwarming to visit," he commented. "They have a collegian sport called 'Meat Judging'. It's a competitive event judging the quality of cuts of giant pieces of meat (pictured below). It's so bizarre; kind of like 'Who Wants to be America's Top's Slaughtered Cow'. They wear hard hats, which I couldn't get a straight answer to or understand, so that was eye-opening. But it was fun and something different in they are national champions! It's so out there, which made it cool to learn something about your country you didn't know was out there. I learned a lot, and while travel a lot doing standup, I had never seen all of these out-of-the-box activities."

When it came to America's 'Smelliest Town' (Coalinga, CA), Mandel had only ever done a drive-by, for obvious reasons, and upon further investigation found it a treat to the eyes, albeit not so much for the nostrils. "It's this tiny town between LA and San Francisco," he explained. "They have this unfortunate thing where the freeway exit to the town is right by this giant cow eat block. So it smells like cow shit. After driving past it for the last 15 years I [finally] got off the freeway, and the town doesn't smell that much. It has a really nice community of about 15,000 people and is very livable. I doubt many have stopped in because it smells so bad from the freeway. It might smell a little, but it has the best mud bogging events west of the Mississippi. So while there are cons about a place, there are also major pros, like having enough land to do something like that."

The special marks Mandel's first executive producer gig for Discovery, and once the world returns to some kind of normality (post the Covid19 lockdown) he has hope that Small Town Throw Down, goes to series. "This is the first time I've worked with Discovery and they have been fantastic," he said in closing. "They're great to work with, really believe in the show, and that's all you can ask for. We have a huge list of other towns we'd love to visit with a variety of reputations. I believe a lot of places would benefit from people taking a second look at them. But the flip side is people not wanting us to go there to highlight how great it is, as they don't want people moving there and I respect that."

Pictures courtesy of Discovery Channel.  

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