Marc Summers unveils life story in one-man show

Marc Summers, the iconic host of Nickelodeon’s “Double Dare” and a familiar face on television for over three decades, is now showcasing his life story in New York City through his one-man play, “The Life and Slimes of Marc Summers.”

It is something Summers, 72, thought would never happen. He was nearly out of the entertainment industry after his time with Nickelodeon and Food Network had concluded. (Paramount is the parent company of Nickelodeon and CBS.)

But Summers’ path wasn’t always a smooth one. He faced significant personal challenges, including early rejections based on his appearance and last name, which was Berkowitz at birth.

“I had an NBC executive say to me once, ‘Your nose is too big. And your name, Berkowitz, is too Jewish. Change your name. Get your nose fixed. But until you do that, I’m not gonna hire you,'” he recalled.

Before his television breakthrough, Summers considered leaving the industry altogether. 

In 1986, Summers was hired as the host of “Double Dare,” a role that would become iconic. A total of 2,000 people auditioned for “Double Dare” in New York and Los Angeles. 

Summers admitted he never wanted to work on a kids show, but his approach to hosting the show became a sensation and defined a generation.

“I treated them like they were grownups. And that worked for me,” he said.

However, his public persona masked a private battle with obsessive-compulsive disorder. He said he had no idea what OCD was, but had been experiencing it since he was six years old. 

“I was living this nightmare of making everything perfect and neat,” said Summers.

He first spoke openly about it in the early 2000s and discusses it in his one-man play.

His struggle reached a critical point when his wife, Alice, caught him obsessively straightening rug fringes late at night. 

“What are you doing?” Summers recalled her asking. “I have no idea,” he replied.

Thanks to therapy, Summers has made significant strides in managing his OCD and saved his relationship with his wife. He said he’s managed to retrain his brain to avoid intrusive thoughts. 

Summers says bringing his play to New York City has been a “dream.” Although a portion of his career has played out in front of a live audience, being able to share his story in front of a crowd every night has been rewarding.

“I get choked up about it, because … I didn’t think this could ever happen at this point in my life,” said Summers. I was pretty much out of the business. You know—the Nickelodeon thing, you know, ran its course. And I was at Food Network for 20 years. And that ran its course. And here was this opportunity. And what it’s turned into has just been mind-boggling.”

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