What’s motivated Mike Rowe to complete more than 160 DIRTY JOBS ... and counting?
A deep reverence for dirt, his paternal role models, and the common American, he says.
Having grown up in Maryland watching his father and grandfather work side-by-side on manual tasks, Mike has always associated dirt with a solution.
Today, as the journeyman host of Discovery Channel’s popular series DIRTY JOBS, Mike has cultivated an even greater respect for those among us who descend, well groomed, into a pit at the beginning of every work day, and climb out dirty, exhausted, but unbowed at the end.
As a result, Mike is a spokesperson for a nation of unsung heroes. For DIRTY JOBS, Mike takes a walk in their shoes as he performs the jobs most Americans can’t imagine doing and in some cases, don’t realize they even exist.
By serving as an apprentice to the everyday folks who perform these unthinkable occupations, Mike pays tribute to them. From slime eel fisherman, to sewer inspector, to professionals who determine the sex of chickens, DIRTY JOBS offers an illuminating look at what lies beyond the world of 9 to 5, and no one is better suited to the task of good-natured guinea pig than Mike Rowe.
Before DIRTY JOBS, Discovery sent Mike to the Valley of the Golden Mummies to host EGYPT WEEK LIVE! There, he opened and explored ancient tombs live on the air with Dr. Zahi Hawass, Egypt’s Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities. From Egypt, Mike was sent to the Bering Sea to narrate yet another of Discovery’s most popular series, DEADLIEST CATCH. Mike also served as host of SHARK WEEK 2006, where he guided viewers through undersea episodes of things that bite.
In cleaner days, Mike Rowe sang professionally with The Baltimore Opera, sold over 100 million dollars of fake diamonds on QVC, and appeared in several dozen Tylenol commercials. He also hosted Worst Case Scenario for TBS, On-Air TV for American Airlines, The Most for The History Channel, No Relation for Fox, and New York Expeditions for PBS. In San Francisco, Mike is best known for his work on CBS as the host of Evening Magazine, a position he held for three years, and left in 2005. Along the way, he has narrated over 1,000 hours of television, and performed dozens of theatrical productions.
If he survives dishing the dirt and scooping the slop on DIRTY JOBS, he plans to take a long shower and return to the stage.
Season Premiere October 7, 2008 at 9pm E/P on Discovery Channel
*Q&A compiled from “You Ask, He Answers” at http://discovery.com/dirtyjobs
Q. Aren't you exhausted? What is your secret? Some special herbal supplement? Lots of caffeine? Magic healing balm? Personal masseuse? Do you ever feel like Stretch Armstrong?
Mike: I remember Stretch all too well, and the memories are somewhat disturbing. You might think that his resiliency and innate survival skill would eventually endear me to Stretch, but it was really the exact opposite. His indefatigable will to live turned my resentment into something darker, and his incredible toughness only served to magnify my own twisted desire to heap more and more indignity upon this wretched, yet indestructible being.
Q. What are the limits of the show?
Mike: The show has certain vague, but non-negotiable limits that are content related and determined by the network. From a production standpoint however, all dirty jobs must incorporate at least some of the following criteria.
1. A "who knew" factor, like Chick Sexing.
2. A "gotta get done" factor, like Road Kill Clean-Up.
3. A great character, like Bill Bretherton from Vexcon.
4. Tons of factual information, like Bat Biologist.
5. A lot of dirt, like Charcoal Maker.
6. Backbreaking manual labor, like indoor demolition.
I can think of no job that would be unsuitable, provided dirt and character were abundant.
Q. If you had to pick one dirty job for everyone to experience and understand, which one would it be?
Mike: Great question. Off the top of my head, I'd say waiter/waitress. If everyone had to spend a few months serving food to paying customers, the species would take a dramatic turn for the better in short order. Things like manners and expectations would improve across the board. Empathy would skyrocket and service would improve. Equally beneficial - garbage collector or sewerage worker. A big part of our collective entitlement lies in the belief that we can throw or flush something "away". A few months in a dump or waste water treatment plant will change the way you look at the world. Should be mandatory for all high school graduates in my opinion.
Q. What influences you artistically? Would you categorize yourself as an actor, a character, journeyman, method, dramatic, scenery chewer, comedic, or are you a little bit of everything?
Mike: I'm not a classically trained actor. I've studied a bit, but find that most approaches to the "craft" are a little too self-important and precious for me. Good acting requires a lot of hard work and discipline, but it's not as noble and important as all that. At base, I believe that a good actor is a good liar. I think I'm influenced by everything I read, everything I hear, and everything I see. Not necessarily inspired, but certainly influenced. I admire Steven King very much.
Q. Do you tend to be a leader or a follower?
Mike: Leadership I think is a state of mind. I find that people who know precisely where they want to go often see themselves as leaders. But aren't those people following something too? Only the leader can say what drives his actions. Likewise, the willingness to follow is also a choice, and does not preclude the ability to lead. In fact, I think the best leaders are those who are happy to follow, but step up when circumstances demand. The courage to lead is admirable - the ambition to lead is not. Sometimes I wonder if it takes more courage to lead or follow.
Q. It’s admirable considering the popularity of Dirty Jobs that you remain approachable and talk with your fans on a consistent basis. What is the best part of being famous, and what is the worst part?
Mike: Let me say first that anybody with their name in the title of a hit show that airs in 128 countries has no business complaining about anything
Regarding humility - I think it's something to aspire to, but like anything else worth having, not that easy to come by, especially in this business. There is a certain amount of ego required to deliberately thrust yourself onto a stage or in front of a camera, which defies a natural humility.
As for fame itself, there's very little about it that's inherently good or bad. The problem with fame of course, is that it doesn't need to be earned - more often than not, it's handed out by the machine, and usually on a temporary basis. Maybe that's why it's so hard to handle.
Q. Where Did You Get Your Sense of Humor? Is your family a particularly funny bunch of folk or are you an anomaly?
Mike: I like the power line theory. There were many running through the woods behind our house. I would climb them as a kid, all the way to the top, and listen to the electricity humming through the wires. I am still contemplating the effects.
Q: Do you have a comfort food that you would want your Mom to cook if you were coming home for a visit?
Mike: My Mom makes an amazing Maryland Crab Soup. That, with homemade bread and a cold beer, is hard to beat.
Dirty Jobs: Seasons 1 & 2 DVD Set Get your filthy hands on the first and second seasons of Dirty Jobs. 35 episodes for only $69.99 from Discovery Channel Store!
Join host Mike Rowe for an unsanitary look at the dirty jobs that someone has to do. From one fine mess to another, Rowe demonstrates how sewer inspectors, garbage collectors and other unkempt heroes keep the world clean for the rest of us. It's a fun, foul look at some of the grimiest, grungiest, grossest jobs around.
Season 1 Episodes:Bat Cave ScavengerWorm Dung FarmerRoadkill CleanersChinatown Garbage CollectorSewer InspectorPig FarmerChick SexerVexconSludge CleanerHot Tar Roofer
Season 2 Episodes:Lobstermen, Seaweed Harvester & Snake ResearcherConcrete Stamper, Penguin Keeper & Bloodworm DiggerWater Barrier & Bell MakerHouse Gutter, Rat Exterminator & Mosquito Control OfficerStump Remover, Fainting Goat Farmer & Bug BreederSalmon Carcass Counter, Dirty Jobs Mailbag & Poo Pot MakerWine Barrel Maker & Mule LoggerBaseball Groundskeeper, Boat Mooring Repair & Well DiggerWine Cave Digger & Airport WorkerSalt MinerWine Maker & Cattle RancherHydro Seed Operator, Mike's Mailbag & Steam Ship CleanerBillboard InstallerSnake WranglerLeather TannerBridge PainterVomit Island WorkersAlligator Egg CollectorWild Goose Chase150th Dirty Jobs ExtravaganzaSpecial Effects Artist & Kelp HarvesterReef Ball MakerDump Truck Cleaner & Exotic Animal KeeperSpray Insulation Technician, Runway Painter & Odor EaterBig Animal Vet, Barbeque Cleaner & Oil Tank Removal.
Get your filthy hands on the first edition of Dirty Jobs, Season 3 - that's 23 episodes for only $29.95!Join host Mike Rowe for an unsanitary look at the dirty jobs that someone has to do. From one disgusting mess to another, meet the men and women who make their living doing the dirtiest jobs around.Episodes include:Steel Mill WorkerBarge DemolitionCave BiologistSlime EelsBuoy CleanerShingle MakerCranberry FarmerBrick MakerMud Mineral ExcavatorRice Plantation WorkerDirty Jobs of the Big Apple: Water Tank Cooper and Elevator RepairFloating Fish FactoryDairy Cow MidwifeAerial Tram GreaserErosion Control TechnicianTurkey InseminatorMastic SlingerCar CrusherIce Salvage CrewSnow Oil SeparatorWind Farm TechnicianCave CleanupPrinting PressmanTake a fun, foul look at some of the grimiest, grungiest, grossest jobs around.
Get all Dirty Jobs DVD Episodes on DVD, T-Shirts, Mugs, Collectibles fom the Discovery Channel Store.
"Dirty Jobs" Season DVDs from Amazon.com