TBS applies metrics to misfortune on ‘The Misery Index’

‘The Misery Index’ – Bad experiences, ranked

Jameela Jamil

Misery, it turns out, can be hilarious, at least in the hopes of the makers of a game show premiering this week on TBS.

In “The Misery Index,” hosted by Jameela Jamil (“The Good Place”) and debuting Tuesday, Oct. 22, two teams each consisting of one noncelebrity contestant and two members of the Tenderloins comedy troupe (Joe Gatto, Sal Vulcano, Brian Quinn and James Murray of “Impractical Jokers”), compete in a game of stakes in which they attempt to rank from 1 to 100 truly miserable life experiences, from the devastating and the shocking to the disgusting and the downright weird, based on a scale created by a team of therapists. The winning contestant takes home a $30,000 grand prize.

“(It was) amazing just to see what human beings are capable of,” Jamil told a recent gathering of journalists in Pasadena, Calif. “I think that was the thing that I found most extraordinary about the show that made me want to keep making this show for season upon season upon season is just you learn the full extent of how miserable and ridiculous some peoples’ experiences are.”

And if the trailer is any indication, there is a lot of misery and absurdity to come. In one clip, a spider crawls out of a man’s ear canal to the horrified screams of the audience, while another shows a live leech being pulled from up a man’s nose, again to moans. Those gross-out events are ranked against such traumatic experiences as getting fired and losing a limb. All are played for laughs by the panel of comics.

And surprisingly, there was a lot of disagreement on stage and in the audience as to which experiences ranked worse than others.

“It’s a good way to gauge who you know is a sociopath,” Jamil says. “Like, the things that some people find shocking, other people don’t. And so, it’s a really divisive show and everyone in the audience felt very split by it. All of our friends and family who came, we were split apart by it. And I think that it’s going to be a really amazing conversation-starter which is something that I’m quite excited about.”

George Dickie

George Dickie

George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.

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