Adam Conover never used to ruin anything. More than one year later, that is exactly what Conover will do every Tuesday during “Adam Ruins Everything,” a new show on truTV.
Conover, a Smithtown native who grew up on the North Shore, hosts the comedy show, which blends comedy, history and science to entertain and enlighten viewers about common misconceptions in society. The show touches upon various topics including giving, security, crime scene investigations, childhood, sex and more.
His first episode covers giving and touches upon the history of engagement rings, why shoe companies that give away free shoes are harmful and the reality of food pantries.
But for Conover, creating a show wasn’t something he just set out to do. Everything simply fell into place.
Once Conover reached middle school and high school, he became more interested in drama and theater. His mother, Stony Brook native Margaret Conover, said she remembers her son being a handful as a child, saying that it was hard to keep him focused on a task. But his Shoreham-Wading River High School’s theater program was one of the few things that grabbed and maintained his attention.
Conover got his first acting break after a teacher selected him for one of the star roles in the school’s production of “The Clumsy Custard Horror Show.”
Conover said his overall experience in his high school’s theater program made an impression on him as it gave him a glimpse into working in a performing arts career.
“I think the biggest thing I took out of it was that … it was like a real theater program. We’re not just kids putting on a show,” Conover said in a phone interview. “We are putting on a real show with a real audience that has expectations and the show has to be good.”
Adam Conover’s father, David Conover of Stony Brook, said he remembers his son being in nearly all school plays when he attended Shoreham-Wading River’s Prodell Middle School and the Shoreham-Wading River High School.
“He became very passionate about certain things. Teachers that he loved in high school, he would do all the work for,” David Conover said in a phone interview. “Drama was one of those things he was focused on doing really, really well.”
Margaret Conover also added that the high school’s program helped her son as “the creativity that was fostered and allowed in [high school] really gave him a wake up.”
Comedy was also pushed to the forefront after Adam Conover begged his parents to upgrade their television subscription to include Comedy Central when he was in middle school. Until then, his mother said she wasn’t aware of his interest in comedy.
As a child, Adam Conover always loved learning. He remembered watching science programs like “Bill Nye the Science Guy,” among other programs that fostered his love for acquiring information. Science played a big role in his childhood as his mother and father work in science-based fields and have their Ph.D.s in botany and marine biology, respectively. His younger sister Emily also has her Ph.D. in nuclear physics.
A career in comedy was never the first thing that came to mind for his family. Regardless, his parents were supportive of his dreams even after he quit a web development job to pursue a full-time career in comedy in 2006.
Conover left his job and rejoined friends from his Bard College days — the same group he was with in the early 2000s when Olde English, their sketch comedy, was established. The change left Conover’s parents concerned for their son’s well-being but supportive nonetheless.
“We were concerned about whether or not that was a good way of making a living, but we didn’t attempt to dissuade him from doing so,” his father said. “We always believed that people should follow their passion and if you do oftentimes the rest of everything else works out.”
According to the father, Adam Conover’s work with his sketch comedy group helped him land a job as a staff writer and cast member of CollegeHumor Originals in 2012. And Jon Cohen, one of the “Adam Ruins Everything” producers, said the show was initially released as a web series and received positive feedback from viewers, which encouraged Cohen, Conover and Sam Reich, another executive producer, to produce and pitch the show to television networks.
TruTV picked up the 12 half-hour episodes of the show last October. Cohen said he realized they would work to produce the show after Conover informed him that the coconut water Cohen was drinking was not very healthy.
“He’s obviously playing a heightened version of himself,” Cohen said in a phone interview about Conover. “He truly believes and is passionate about all of the information he has and he just wants to share it with people, not because he wants to be a know-it-all but just because he wants people to know the truth and that’s what’s going to be great about this show.”
“Adam Ruins Everything” will debut on Tuesday, Sept. 29, at 10 p.m. on truTV.
While his family never thought Conover would work in the entertainment industry, Margaret, David and Emily Conover agreed that they are proud of Adam and are certainly “not surprised” by his career choice.
“Making this show [was] my life goal, and true mission for me,” Adam Conover said. “This is exactly the kind of comedy I want to do, and is saying things I want to say. I suppose that if I had to think ahead, my goal would be to say those things even more effectively in season two, if we’re lucky enough to get one.”