I don’t think it needs to be said that Running Man is an exceptional variety show. From the ridiculous and seemingly impossible missions to the lovable cast, the show has an irresistible charm that manages to grab viewers from all demographics. It’s my absolute favorite variety show to tune into these days, and it’s also probably one of the reasons why I stick to the world of K-pop in its less glorifying cycles.
However, as a fan, even I have to admit that Running Man is not the most consistent program out there. The episodes vary greatly, capriciously shifting from the truly spectacular to the undeniably mediocre. While the show is often renowned for its comical and epic happenings, the program also tends to drag, leading to some lackluster and boring minutes of so-called entertainment.
Unfortunately, despite all the improvements and changes Running Man has implemented over the years, these moments seem to happen more and more frequently in recent times. And admittedly, there are quite a few variables to take into account when determining an episode’s entertainment value. It could be a tedious mission or task that could drag the episode down, or it could be a lack of lively cast interaction due to an unfitting landmark. However, the factor that seems to most often take the blame for lowering the quality of an episode is its guest.
Running Man, especially as of late, is becoming very reliant on its guests, regularly featuring and focusing on them in every episode. And as all regular watchers of the show would know, these guests can make or break an entire episode. Sometimes, a particularly good guest can make the episode so much more enjoyable to watch, providing amusing gags or some competitive spirit. However, more often the case, a particularly boring guest can bring an episode’s quality down twofold, annoyingly taking up screen time that could have been much better used by a member of the regular cast. And since a guest’s behavior could so strongly influence the episode they feature in, I wanted to make a personal guide on what it takes to be a successful guest on the show. So without ado, let’s get started, shall we?
1. Make good use of the regular cast members.
Running Man has many great assets to it that make it so amazing, but nothing is more valuable to the show than its cast. Over time, the much-loved cast has morphed from a diverse mix of variety newbies and professional gagmen to a much more balanced group full of skilled, experienced entertainers, each able to stand on their own in the program. Truly, the cast has become one of a kind, and their slowly-developed chemistry together is definitely one of the show’s best charms.
Seeing as the cast is full of adept, seasoned entertainers, a guest should see it in their best interest to fully utilize this cast. Admittedly, chemistry is something that doesn’t come easily for some, and the Running Men themselves often come with their own hidden agendas. However, all the Running Men usually go out of their way to welcome their guest and make them feel as comfortable as possible.
A common team set-up on the show is to pair one guest up with Kim Jong-kook and HaHa, another guest with Yoo Jae-suk and Gary (or alternatively Kwang-soo), and leave the remaining members as a team. While this set-up is admittedly becoming very stale and predictable, it truly works to a guest’s favor, for they are paired with experienced and leading Kim Jong-kook and Yoo Jae-suk, who would definitely go out of their way to ensure a guest gets proper screen time and appreciation. And again, this could also cause problems if the guest fails to be amusing in the time they’re given, but all a guest really needs to do is accept their advances and go along with their leads to create some amusing and entertaining interaction.
The extent of the cast’s effort in aiding the guest could most clearly be seen when famous Wonder Girl Sohee guested the show along with some of her idol peers. Sohee, being known for her timidity, barely uttered a peep while on the show, but the cast still tried to get her involved in gags and games, often making some of the most ridiculous reactions on the littlest of Sohee’s actions. While the episode (revolving around math of all things) was surely not the show’s best, it was still an endearing sight seeing the professionalism the cast had in handling their guests, going out of their way to make them feel as comfortable on the show as possible.
2. Get competitive and be involved.
While the standard cast is there to help you, a guest really shouldn’t rely on them solely. This unfortunately is a common problem, especially towards female guests who usually leave their partner (oftentimes the chivalrous and competent Kim Jong-kook) to do all the work. A passive guest is almost always a boring one, so instead, a guest should try to involve themselves fully in the game or activity they’re doing, trying their best to win even if they’re unable to do so. Running Man is driven by competition after all, and seeing a guest get riled up and overactive is an encouraging sight that signals that the guest is taking the show seriously.
And also, these hot-blooded moments are oftentimes hilarious to watch, for the Running Men and the viewers alike. For example, it’s likely that Shin Se-kyung‘s or Gong Hyo-jin‘s episodes wouldn’t have been nearly as amusing without their over-competitive, hot-blooded reactions. Likewise, despite the general negative reaction towards female idols in variety, Sunny and Yoona‘s episode and IU and Hara‘s many appearances on the show were met more positively. This is because they were able to momentarily drop their images as delicate female idols and actively compete, ferociously chasing after the Running Men in hopes of ultimate victory. While not a guest, Song Joong-ki even created his entire character out of being overenthusiastic, always arrogantly volunteering to go first only to later fail at the task. Moreover, even if a guest fails, this still opens them up to body gags, amusingly annoyed reactions, or entertaining scoldings, so a guest should try to get themselves as involved as possible.
3. Don’t be afraid to resort to trickery.
Hey, this is Running Man after all. The show has become synonymous with betrayal (Lee Kwang-soo and HaHa are supposedly famous “traitors”) and is known for its multiple twists and secrets. Consequently, a guest should be open to deceiving the other members. A good twist such as a hidden, extra nametag or the introduction of a spy can ultimately affect the entire course of the game, so a guest should use these to their full advantage in their path to victory.
Han Ji-min‘s hidden nametag, Lee Da-hae‘s purposefully and hilariously suspicious behavior, and Ji Jin-hee‘s countless betrayals certainly helped slice up their respective episodes, helping them attain their surprising victories. Also, while I’m not really advocating cheating, sometimes it brings about some of the most outrageous reactions from the other members, so a guest could resort to it with some discretion. After all, it’s all for the sake of entertainment.
4. Build and establish a character.
Admittedly, scripting isn’t the best thing for a guest to fall back on, and even then, establishing a distinct character usually takes time and multiple, consistent variety appearances. However, a character can definitely help an entertainer, for they provide some consistent entertainment and humorous gags and interaction.
For example, Choi Min-soo‘s “Hunter” persona was the root of some of Running Man‘s most epic and chilling moments. Also, in a recent episode, despite being rare variety participants, Han Hyo-joo and Go Soo were able to quickly establish amusing and distinct characters in the course of the episode. Han Hyo-joo was quickly and hilariously antagonized, fitting into an unexpected victim character — a rarity among female actresses, and Go Soo’s sluggishness and slow reactions earned him a lazy, laid-back character. The establishment of these characters and the active participation of the famous actors made for one of the better Running Man episodes in a while, for the seemingly mundane task of making kimchi was made interesting with the cast and guests’ lively interaction.
5. Have fun.
Lastly, the final thing a guest should remember when appearing on Running Man is to have fun. Honestly, despite the occasional tedious and painstaking missions, Running Man is seemingly an enjoyable program to be in. The games are thrilling, refreshing, and laughably childish, and the cast is a riot. While it is ultimately promotion and business, an entertainer should avoid thinking of variety as work and just have fun with it all. Viewers seek natural, albeit humorous interaction anyway, so an entertainer may as well take advantage of that and enjoy their time on the program, since it’s a genuinely enjoyable program to begin with.
As a fan, I’m honestly perplexed at the show’s lack of consistency as of late, and the biggest variable in determining the quality of an episode unfortunately lies greatly within the guest, an aspect the writers or producers can’t necessarily predict or amend. But despite being such a polarizing variable, one can’t disregard guests all together. To do that, one would have to disregard the successful guests as well, and that’s not something I’m willing to do since Running Man has definitely featured more than their fair share of spectacular guests.
So readers, this was my list on what it took to make a successful guest. What are your thoughts? Have you got more advice to add? Mention them below!