From 'Double Dare' to deep dives: Marc Summers' inspiring story comes to Off Broadway

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It’s more than just a play.

It’s a fun way to let people know they’re not alone.

That’s probably the best way to describe Marc Summers’ one-man stage performance "The Life and Slimes of Marc Summers," the man who graced our TV screens as the longtime host of "Double Dare" and "Unwrapped."

Summers might be best known for hosting “Double Dare,” a kids’ gameshow that was the centerpiece of Nickelodeon. On that show, people would get green slime dumped on them, they’d have to dive into massive hot fudge sundaes to look for a flag, and all kinds of crazy, disgusting gags to win prizes like a trip to Disney.

Summers’ personality was perfect for the show.

Marc Summers is staring in the at "The Life and Slimes of Marc Summers" Off Broadway.
Marc Summers is staring in the at "The Life and Slimes of Marc Summers" Off Broadway.

But Summers also dealt with obsessive compulsive disorder, which could be a problem when dealing with the gags on the show.

He worked through it.

Summers has also twice battled cancer, and was involved in a horrible car accident in 2012 that severely injured his face and eyes.

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No matter what he was up against, Summers was up to the physical challenge.

His show lets people know they can do the same.

“That’s what it’s about, at this point in my life for a long time, paying it forward,” Summers said of his show. “I’m 72, I hope to be around for a while, but it’s about giving back. All the things I’ve ever done, I wrote a book about OCD in 1999. People will come up to me and say ‘I didn't know what I had, then I saw you on Oprah, or Howard Stern.

“There’s a well-known personality who came to the show Monday who called me yesterday and said ‘I was having a difficult time and that show changed my life. I have those same symptoms. I never discussed it with anyone.’

Double Dare plays a big part in Marc Summers' show
Double Dare plays a big part in Marc Summers' show

“To do it on stage and to make me think, 'I'm not crazy and I have what other people have,’ it changed my world. I’m hearing that more and more.”

Summers’ one-man show "The Life and Slimes of Marc Summers" is in the midst of a 16-week run that began on Valentine's Day and goes through June 2.

It's a fun show that includes musical components and a lot of gags from his game show, but unlike Double Dare, this isn't a kids show, and might be a little sensitive for viewers under 16, according to Summers.

“Parents think it’s Double Dare Live, but it’s not,” Summer said. “It’s not a show for little kids, it’s a very heavy show. We talk about my OCD, having cancer, the car accident. A lot of fun things, too and we do play Double Dare, but it’s a small part of the show.

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Marc Summers is staring in the at "The Life and Slimes of Marc Summers" Off Broadway.
Marc Summers is staring in the at "The Life and Slimes of Marc Summers" Off Broadway.

“We have a ball, but it’s very serious from humor to drama, and a 6-year-old won’t understand.”

Summers has come a long way from Nickelodeon days.

During the early days of the station for kids, Summers wore many different hats. And although he was no kid when he was on – he was in his early 30s – he quickly became the face of the station.

“They said I was like a cool older brother or a fun uncle,” Summers said. “Certainly from 1986 to 1994, it was a big part of my life. And then I was on the Food Network for 20 years. You get a certain recognition from people. When people say ‘are you somebody famous?’ If you ask, I guess not. Someone asked me for an autograph, and I said, sure, do you want me to (tailor it) for Double Dare or Unwrapped? They said ‘what’s Double Dare? I grew up on Unwrapped.’ So it’s a great mix.”

For Summers, it’s a chance to do what he loves most, entertain.

He’s done it since he was starting as a disc jockey and TV host or when he did his first play about a decade ago when he starred as Vince Fontaine in Grease at the Surflight Theatre in Beach Haven.

Marc Summers is staring in the at "The Life and Slimes of Marc Summers" Off Broadway.
Marc Summers is staring in the at "The Life and Slimes of Marc Summers" Off Broadway.

But a one-man show on his life? That’s pretty special.

“I’m living in a fantasy world right now,” he said “I was obsessed with 'Producers.' The other day, I was sitting in a dinner between shows … Brad Oscar walks in, I’ve met him several times, had dinner with him before, but we’re not closest friends. I’m sitting in a dinner between shows, I was eating breakfast at 4 p.m. and NY Broadway star, one of the biggest, comes up and talks to me about it.”

Whether famous or a regular person, Summers loves meeting with people after the shows, and he’s happy to sign autographs. Sometimes that can be a challenge because of the accident he had.

“I lost a lot of my memory, like I knew I was married to Alice, but I couldn’t remember her name,” he said. “The doctor said it’s going to take six to eight months to get my memory back. It’s 86 percent back. People I’ve known for years don’t always register in my mind, it takes a while, and it’s embarrassing.

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“From day one, I always shake people’s hand and say I’m ‘Marc Summers.’ I have a friend since third grade who flew in from (Kansas City) and I didn’t remember he was coming. He put his hand out and I recognized him, but it took a second. It’s Fred. That can be embarrassing. But I love meeting them.

“It’s nice to be important, but it’s important to be nice.”

And while this is a one-man show, he knows there are a lot of people who made the show possible.

His family is chief among them.

“I couldn’t do any of this without Alice,” he said of his wife. “She saw (the show) three times, it’s emotional as it is, but when she’s there, I tend to lose it. We’re married 50 years on June 16. It’s flown by and it was fun.

My son, my grandson, my daughter, who is giving birth any minute. Lots of support from the family. My son gave me a hug and said the sweetest things to me. That meant so much to me. My son doesn’t emit those emotions, I’m more emotional than most guys, it’s a side of my son I’ve never seen. It was special.”

The show runs through June 2 and tickets are available.

This article originally appeared on Asbury Park Press: 'Life and Slimes': Marc Summers shares struggles and triumphs