Blake Shelton and Carson Daly
Jay Pharaoh (right) and guest
"Thank God people in my family are famous, or we might not have any guests for this show at all," Blake Shelton quips.
He's speaking from Ole Red, his bar in Nashville, where he's shooting season two of Barmageddon, the USA game show he cocreated and cohosts with Carson Daly, his friend from The Voice. The eight episodes in season one featured Shelton's wife, Gwen Stefani, their friend Sheryl Crow and other pals.
"I've had to pull in most of my favors with my friends for season two also," Shelton adds, "because Carson doesn't really have any friends."
"Blake and I can't stand each other," Daly later deadpans. "So they just turn on the cameras and we go. It's like hanging out with us."
Shelton and Daly throw verbal jabs that only two old friends could get away with. It's their love language and part of the charm of Barmageddon, which features pumped-up bar games, giant props, alcohol-fueled banter and celebrities paired with internet laughingstocks who seek a chance at TV redemption. They came up with the idea in Shelton's dressing room at The Voice — which became a de facto dive bar during Covid — while having beers and watching Steph Curry's minigolf-themed ABC show, Holey Moley. "We said, 'How much better would that be if they were drinking?'" Shelton recalls.
"They pitched me this idea for a show which was not as good as I thought it could be," says cocreator and executive producer Lee Metzger, a former EP on The Voice. Metzger suggested a celebrity bar Olympics show and soon decided to work with the duo on developing odd bar games and pitching the show to NBC.
"Blake would reverse-engineer anything," Daly recalls. "He said, 'We have to have a game called Sharts — and then he would laugh for twenty minutes. Then we'd say, 'So what's the game?' And he'd go, 'I don't know.'"
Metzger and his team stepped in to develop, build and test all thirteen of the ideas that ended up in season one, including games like Split Happens (contestants as bowlingballs), Keg Curling (shuffleboard meets curling— with kegs), Air Cannon Cornhole (cornhole on steroids) and Shelton’s favorite, Just the Tip (billiards meets Pictionary). Sharts made the cut, too — short for “Shelton Darts,” it involves a balloon wall.
Daly says the show is “basically a night out with me and Blake and our friends. We’re at Blake’s bar, our friends are dropping by toplay these over-the-top bar games we’ve created, we have somebeers and we talk a lot of shit.”
The new season of Barmageddon premieres November 13.
This article originally appeared in emmy magazine issue #10, 2023 under the title, “Shoot Your Shot.”