'Biggest Loser' Long Island alums star in comedy about dieting
First came Flavor Spray, a low-cal concoction invented by North Woodmere entrepreneur Sean Pomper. Then came "Reality Horror Night," a low-budget flick he created starring reality show contestants and shot at Glen Cove Mansion.
Now it's "The Diet Show," a live comedy production starring alums of NBC's hit "The Biggest Loser." The show -- perhaps the first of its kind -- was directed by Pomper, co-written by him, comedian Gilbert Gottfried and North Woodmere's Karen Katz, and recently premiered at Stage 72, a cabaret space in Manhattan. (For info and dates -- Feb. 2, 16 and March 2 -- visit broadwaysgoingonadiet.com.)
"Diet" stars a cast of 11, including Erik Chopin (from West Islip, winner of "TBL" season 3), Suzanne Mendonca (of Franklin Square, "TBL" season 4), Tara Costa (Bethpage, season 7), and the Germanakos brothers (Jim of North Massapequa, season 4, and Bill of Lynbrook, Season 4's winner).
"We're not making fun of heavy people, we're making fun of dieting," says Pomper. Though Bill Germanakos does admit at the top of the show -- it's a "double-reinforced stage."
The yuks keep coming, about yo-yoing, Spanx, food jingles. Jim Germanakos -- of the Freeport Police Department and once known as "The Singing Cop" on "The Rosie O'Donnell Show" -- sings a medley, from "My baloney has a first name... " to "What would you do -- oo -- oo for a Klondike bar?"
The key to "Diet's" charm -- and "TBL's" success -- is the assortment of heartfelt confessions by cast members. "None of these people are actors," says Pomper.
"We're normal people with normal struggles," Jim Germanakos agrees. "I haven't been able to do a squat without grimacing since high school," he jokes.
Pomper, too, knows the drill. "When have I not dieted?" he asks, laughing.
It's a bare-bones production, and "I'm not makin' anything," Pomper admits. "But there was this woman in the audience who'd had gastric bypass... and she was screaming with laughter. That made me feel good."
The show has had another unintended side effect.
"I don't wanna make junk anymore," Pomper says. "A horror movie -- OK, I did it. I guess it coulda been better. But this hit me close to home."
He hopes it does for audience members, too. "They leave either wanting to diet," he says, "or at least more aware that they're not alone battling the bulge."