Top 10 Confessionalists in MTV Challenge History
Confessionals are a key part of the Challenge. Good commentary elevates a season. Simultaneously, bad or lackluster commentary can ruin iconic moments. The Challenge evolving from 30 to 60 to 90 minute episodes has also increased the amount of confessionals we get by an exponential amount. I decided to go through the history of the show and rank the Top 10 confessional-givers. For this ranking, the weighting of confessionals went 70–30 Quality/Quantity, where quantity would either be a tiebreaker, or a barrier to entry. For example, people like Jemmye’s commentary, but she’s never been in the Top 10 confessionals for a season she’s been on. Also, I want to give a shoutout to Reddit User: u/WillSeamon for compiling the most detailed confessional spreadsheet that I spent a good couple days studying.
If you want to know who has the most confessionals in Challenge history, I included this video where I list off the Top 25, and go in detail on the Top 10.
Chris Tamburello: Too much mumbling.
Casey Cooper: Great reactions and a bubbly personality. More of a side-gag character.
Wes Bergmann: Some of his humor is a bit repetitive. High quantity confessionals, medium quality.
Marie Roda: Good confessionals, though she’s generally outside the main-plot.
Johnny Bananas: A Kenny impressionist.
Paula Meronek: Great in the narrator role.
Jemmye Carroll: The funnier Jemmye moments are her in-person shady comments and reactions. Has never been in the top ten for confessionals for a season.
Darrell Taylor: One of the funniest challengers ever, his confessional totals are a bit too low to put top 10. Great reaction-faces as well.
Tina Barta: If Coral is Dr. Pepper, then she is Mr. Pibb. Mr. Pibb is pretty damn good if you ask me.
Cohutta Grindstaff: Fantastic with idioms, an amazing accent, and seemed like a lock, then you go into his stats, and he didn’t have a lot of confessionals. High quality, low quantity.
Katie Doyle: Best Challenge competitor to watch get into drama or an argument, confessional stats are lacking.
Ryan Knight: Pound for pound one of the funniest players ever. Just not enough confessionals to get into the Top 10.
10 The Miz
Miz has put up a Hall of Fame WWE Career in part since he has been one of the best talkers in the company’s history. Even though his in-ring work might be a couple of levels below some of the other people at the top of the company, his promos make up for it. The Miz’s promos come with such a passion and ferocity that you become invested in him.
Before the Miz was cutting promos on John Cena en-route to main-eventing WrestleMania, he was racking up confessionals on the Challenge. Miz had the most confessionals of any player on Gauntlet 1, Inferno 1, and Inferno! We don’t have any pre-Gauntlet confessional data, so that means Miz led the confessional amount for 3 out of 4 seasons we know of, and he did so by a significant margin. The Miz’s confessionals brought so much energy to the Challenge that it gave urgency to a show that was much more low-stakes back in the day. You could argue that the Challenge never evolves into the 5th Major Sport Label it has today if not for Miz’s passion in confessionals.
A weird sidenote: The Miz has a moment on Inferno 2 where he wears little trunks for a daily challenge and says his body doesn’t look good in them. Ironically, his WWE career took off once he switched from pants/shorts to tiny tights as they made him look more legitimate.
9 Big T
Big T has been an absolute sensation throughout her three seasons of the Challenge. In her first season, we got little glimpses in her abbreviated run. Total Madness, she brought refreshing energy, and her accent had me smiling whenever she was on screen. While Big T was likable, her confessionals generally fit into a category of being a side-gag character (averaged the 2nd least confessionals among females). Double Agents happens, and even though we are only 6 episodes in, Big T’s confessionals have gone to another level. Currently, Big T has the second-most confessionals on Double Agents and has been a central character where every week, I find myself nominating her for Episode MVP, not necessarily, but she’s always in the hunt. Big T is talking game, making funny quips, and of course, her energy and accent give her this advantage that nobody else has
8 Nelson Thomas
Nelson evolved from being one of the worst confessionals in Challenge history to hitting a point where his confessionals being bad became ironically good. Then his confessionals reached a point now where you unironically love and wait for them. His early confessionals were him trying to play a serious character role where he’d speak slowly and dramatically and wouldn’t resonate with fans at all. Nelson is a goofy and corny guy, and once he embraced that, his confessionals began clicking. When he gives a confessional today, you are half-watching to see if he misuses a word, mispronounces a particular saying, or makes up a word out of nowhere.
When I write a Challenge article, the word formerly known as audacity no longer exists; it is now ordacity (even if my auto-correct tries to fix it behind my back like it attempted to right now). Other key Nelson slip-ups are him saying we’re living in the 2018th century, needy greedy instead of the nitty-gritty, or on Invasion saying: “It’s not the bark in the dog, it’s the dog in the bark.” The man has become a national treasure.
7 Kenny Santucci
Rewatching any season with Kenny and Evan is rough because of the Tonya stuff. My guard is super high-up and judgmental towards them for any action they take, crossing any social correctness lines. Acknowledging that, Kenny made me laugh consistently, even though I openly dislike him while I watch. It makes sense that MTV built their franchise around him for a half-decade period. He was good at shooting the shit and roasting people. Kenny’s immediate candidness and ability to peg some left to right would have made him one of the best live-tweeters ever.
If you’re wondering why Johnny Bananas isn’t on this list, it’s because he stole some of Kenny’s most-used/best lines when insulting other people. Kenny’s confessionals involving Wes were all-timers, and of course, there’s the Kenny Maria stuff that is ingrained into my memory forever.
6 Da’Vonne Rogers
If you included Da’Vonne’s Big Brother run, then she’d be higher on this list. Her confessionals were a bit limited on Final Reckoning based on the fact she was in the Redemption House, which limits what type of stuff you can talk about, other than Britni and Chuck’s weird-ass relationship. Her WOTW 1 performance was superb, whether she was bickering with Bear, going at Wes, or serving up Dee a whole platter of humble pie.
Da’Vonne has an innate understanding of using her hand, eyes, and body to authentically express emotion and personality. She could say basic stuff, and she’d still be a good confessional, then you realize she is quick-witted, and her presence shines no matter what room she in. On the Big Brother “All-Stars,” it felt as though she was the only star at times.
5 Theo Von
Considering Theo Von is a professional comedian and podcaster, it is no surprise that he is on this list. Like the Miz, Theo cut his teeth by going on the Challenge and riffing in front of millions of people. What’s also important to note is that if you go back to his Road Rules, he is a bit of a skinny country outcast type guy who is misunderstood, and it’s only when you see confessionals that his personality would shine bright. Theo got in shape after Road Rules, became an elite competitor on the Challenge, and now that he had that going for him, his jokes hit harder since he has more of an audience due to him being more aesthetically pleasing.
Personally, I’ve never been a fan of his stand-up; however, when on the Challenge, similar to Kenny, his ability to deflate other people is elite. A Fresh Meat quote from him that I always remember is when Wes is spazzing out in anger at people since he knows he will be facing Johanna in elimination, “Unfortunately, I can’t really figure out what Wes is saying because I don’t speak idiot.” Similar to Big T, having an accent boosts your confessionals.
4 Abram Boise
Abram’s confessionals are like that of a serial killer in the best way possible. He is often more muted and speaks eloquently with great detail, almost as if he is presenting his senior thesis. There aren’t many people as well-spoken on the Challenge as a calm Abram.
Then out of nowhere, he comes in with this Tasmanian Devil level of energy as if he snorted enough lines of coke that even Lindsay Lohan would tell him to slow down. We all know about his antics during the Bloodlines elimination between his brother Mike and Stephen Buell. The confessionals that stood out the most are his Pole Wrestle elimination with Ty, where he keeps yelling the word Die over and over again, and his Balls In elimination against Brad on Inferno 2, in which he goes from calm to explosive in seconds. Abram’s confessionals are a rollercoaster of emotions.
3 Ashley Mitchell
What’s so funny is Ashley’s raw confessional numbers aren’t great because she’s gotten eliminated so early on many seasons; however, she averages a high amount of confessionals whenever she’s on. Invasion of the Champions is when she began to shine (the one season she totaled the most confessionals). What separates Ashley from others is she is okay taking shots at her other cast members, is honest when others aren’t, and most importantly, is willing to make jokes that might not paint her in the best light or even be self-deprecating, yet, that level of confidence and realness is endearing. Ashley’s comment about liking getting tied up during her elimination with Natalie is something that most cast members wouldn’t be willing to say, or it would feel inauthentic if they did.
Her War of the Worlds 2 confessionals were vastly underrated because she was never in the entire season’s main plot aside from one or two episodes, yet would appear every episode and drop a hilarious confessional. Ashley also had the confessional on Invasion, where she coined the term “Polidicking,” which has become part of the Challenge lexicon. That alone should put her on this list.
2 Devyn Simone
Everything about Devyn’s confessionals are elite. Her hair and makeup are always pageant perfect for starters, so she presents herself like a professional. Devyn isn’t an amazing athlete or thrill-seeker; thus, she reacts to the daily challenges authentically and humanly. Her reactions are what we would be thinking if we competed, and what separates Devyn from someone like Casey Cooper, who also had great reactions, is that Devyn is also extremely clever. She is intelligent, has better diction, and uses word-play. Crucially, she can even fill the narrator-role where she guides us in on what’s going on in the challenges, etc. Many people like Paula, Sarah, and Wes fill that important narrator role, and because of it, their confessionals feel less important since we see so much of them, and it’s partially why they aren’t on the top 10. In her two seasons, Devyn racked up a ton of confessionals in the narrator role yet maintained a high quality of personality and humor.
Some great quotes by her; one during the BOTS final: “Just because I came FROM Africa doesn’t mean I want to die IN Africa.” During an endurance challenge when they hiked logs up and down a mountain: “This was not made for black people. When was the last time you saw a black lumberjack? Go ahead. I’ll wait.”
1 Coral Smith
Do I need to write anything here? Coral was like the Babe Ruth of the Challenge when it came to personality and confessionals. She sprinted so others could jog gingerly behind and eat up whatever leftovers remain. Coral had a high volume and a high quality to her confessionals. Like Devyn, she could play the narration role, yet because she was also a top player in the game, her confessionals had more weight. Likewise, Coral knew how to take down her opponents with words and facts. Above I link a clip from a Fresh Meat after-show where she gives her thoughts on some cast members. To me, that after-show episode is one of the great Challenge artifacts because Coral talking about these people is somehow more entertaining than 95% of all other Challenge episodes ever.
I don’t think another Coral will ever exist because if they do, they will be getting their own Netflix or HBO series instead. She’s one in a trillion.