Johnny Bananas Devenanzio has been a reality TV staple for years.
He’s appeared in 20 seasons of the MTV juggernaut, The Challenge, winning six in total.
While his future on the competition series remains very much up in the air, he’s focusing his attention on First Look’s Celebrity Sleepover.
The series debuted last week following Saturday Night Live, and it’s a lot of fun. If you haven’t checked it out, you’re missing out!
We had the chance to chat with the reality star-turned-TV host about his new project, as well as his future on The Challenge.
Have a look below.
TV Fanatic: Are you able to speak about how Celebrity Sleepover came about?
Johnny: Celebrity sleepover was the brainchild of, uh, you know, the amazing team that I have behind me at LX TV.
I host a travel show through that production company on NBC called First Look, and for obvious reasons, travel was just not really an option.
While we still tried to film a few episodes in a few segments of First Look, it was just like the amount of barriers and the amount of red tape and, uh, you know, the hoops we had to jump through, it was just too many hurdles.
With the resources that we had with the fantastic team that we have, all the creative minds there, we kind of recalibrated and reloaded.
We wanted to do something that was gonna abide by all the protocols, and it was going to be COVID-safe.
Something that we would be able to kind of capitalize on the fact that there’s a lot of celebrities out there who are used to being in the spotlight and used to being on camera and used to doing interviews and promoting stuff.
And there’s a lot of people who weren’t able to do that. And we wanted to capitalize on that. We wanted to make this really fun and playful format.
Everyone during COVID has gotten very used to sitting around their house in sweat pants and and PJ’s.
The appetite for content has never been higher, and then, on top of that, there’s this desire out there with music and with TV and everything.
We just basically wanted to take all these elements, wrap them together and, and once we mixed them all up that the finished product was Celebrity Sleepover.
One episode of the series has aired so far. What has the reaction been like?
Great, man. It’s been fantastic. I think my fans followed me.
While I think a lot of them have been quite sad that they haven’t been able to see me on The Challenge, I think for my fans, they’re just happy that there’s some platform or somewhere they’re able to see me.
And I think seeing me in this new format, in this new light, taking on this new challenge, I think for a lot of fans out there, it’s bittersweet.
They don’t get to see me on The Challenge that they’re used to, but they still get to see me nonetheless.
And while Celebrity Sleepover definitely has challenged me in new ways, it really has forced me to be a listener instead of a talker.
It’s forced me to really be able to allow my sensitive and vulnerable and more serious side show.
I think a lot of fans have really taken kindly to that, you know, seeing a different side of me, but while still maintaining kind of my wild, crazy bananas side as well.
Same old bananas, just with a new coat of paint.
Can you tease some of your favorite moments from upcoming episodes?
For those who didn’t get a chance to see the premiere, it’s actually up on YouTube now and on Peacock TV. You have to search a First Look for that because it is a First Look Presents.
Getting to have a slumber party with Kelly Kapowski. How many kids growing up dreamed of doing that?
Being able to have her as part of the show, take part in some really fun games and food dares that we did.
The ability to just see her and some of these other celebrities in an environment in a form that most people don’t get to see them.
A lot of times when you see these celebrities on regular talk shows, they’re really buttoned up.
Everything’s a lot more on the serious side while they want to have a playful atmosphere and a playful tone.
It’s kinda difficult when you’re in front of a live audience with all the lights and the cameras and all that.
We provide them with an opportunity to relax, let their hair down, have a cocktail if they want while they’re in their PJ’s they’re in their home.
It really does allow them to kind of be more themselves to be more comfortable being themselves because they’re coming from their comfort zone.
Sammy Hagar coming up. He told me a really funny story, which most people don’t know. People know Sammy Hagar, as you know, the frontman of Van Halen.
Most people don’t know what led him to that position or led him down that path. And he reveals to me that an encounter with extraterrestrials in fact, had a lot to do with him becoming the lead singer of Van Halen.
So that’s a really cool story. But there’s just so many unexpected things that happen. I think there’s going to be something for everyone, and there’s a lot to look forward to.
Do you have any dream guests that you’d like to participate in Celebrity Sleepover?
I’ve said this in past interviews, but I’d love to have Mike Tyson on as a guest. We actually have a mutual friend who was kind of in the process of trying to make that happen.
He’s just such an interesting guy. I mean, you know, beyond the fighter, beyond, Iron Mike and the persona out there.
He’s a really deep thinker, man, and I’ve watched some of the episodes of his health, his podcast, and he really has a very unique way of just looking at and interpreting reality and just seeing things through his own eyes.
And I always loved that. I always loved being able to talk to people and kind of see things through their lens. Because I think I have a very unique perspective on things.
Elon Musk would be another. I would love to have him on for the same reason. What he’s managed to do and how he’s managed to revolutionize so many things, and how he’s changed the world.
I’d just be fascinated again, to talk to him and just drill down and see what,what goes on, what makes him tick.
Do you see yourself returning to The Challenge, or are you taking a wait-and-see approach to it?
Yeah, I think I’m taking a wait-and-see approach at this time. Listen, man, I don’t know what more I can accomplish on The Challenge. You know what I mean? I think for me, life is all about setting goals and setting my sights on the next hurdle or the next big accomplishment.
And I mean, I hold basically every record on The Challenge when it comes to seasons done when it comes to wins when it comes to money.
So it’s like as, as much as I love that atmosphere and as much as I love that family that I have there, that’s basically what is my home in a lot of ways.
And it’s what gave me the platform and the ability to kind of get to where I am today. I’m really just focused on these new projects and Celebrity Sleepover and evolving as a television personality and as a character, instead of just being as one-dimensional reality TV Johnny bananas.
I’ve now been able to force and challenge myself to evolve more and become more of a well-rounded person. And again, man, hosting is tough, man. It’s fun, but it’s tough. And I love every minute of it.
Catch new episodes of First Look’s Celebrity Sleepover every Saturday, after Saturday Night Live.
Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.