“Ask Us Anything” PD And Writer On Reaching Episode 300, Gratitude For Cast, Most Memorable Guests, And More
JTBC’s “Ask Us Anything” has almost reached its 300th episode!
After premiering on December 5 2015, “Ask Us Anything” even came close to being discontinued before the program was revamped into a school concept. With a main cast of Kang Ho Dong, Seo Jang Hoon, Kim Young Chul, Lee Soo Geun, Kim Heechul, Min Kyung Hoon, and Lee Sang Min, who flaunt great chemistry and bring laughs every week, “Ask Us Anything” has been able to become JTBC’s longest-running variety program.
Ahead of the show’s 300th episode on October 2, the show underwent another change. Starting September 4, “Ask Us Anything” is airing at 7:40 p.m. KST instead of the usual 9 p.m. KST. In celebration of the upcoming milestone, producing director (PD) Choi Chang Soo and writer Hwang Sun Young sat down for an interview to discuss the program.
When asked to share their thoughts on reaching their 300th episode, writer Hwang Sun Young responded, “I keep track of my schedule on my wall, but before I was told, I had no idea it was our 300th episode. I don’t even know how time has gone by. We really made it here with many difficulties, one episode at a time. I can’t believe that it’s already our 300th episode.”
PD Choi Chang Soo answered, “With your age and romantic partners, after a certain period of time has passed, don’t you stop counting? Suddenly, ‘Ask Us Anything’ became a regular program that doesn’t count its episodes. Nevertheless, it feels new that we’ve reached episode 300. When our program was just starting out and not doing well, Seo Jang Hoon said, ‘I wish we could just do 30 episodes.’ However, that became 300 episodes, and I feel proud. It’s the longest-running regular JTBC variety program. It’s meaningful in many ways, but I want to congratulate the cast in a small way.”
As they have both worked on the program from the very beginning, the interviewer noted how much affection they must have for it. Choi Chang Soo shared, “To me, ‘Ask Us Anything’ is my first directing project, and I think it’ll be my most successful, last program. I believe I was lucky to have been able to meet such good writers, staff, and cast members to overcome the odds and create such good results. I don’t know if I’ll ever have this kind of opportunity again as a PD. To me, this program is like my child. That’s why even when I was directing another program for two years, when I received a directing offer, I naturally came back as if it were obvious. I’m so happy that I can work with this team again.”
Hwang Sun Young explained how difficult each week of the program has been but then added, “Despite all that, I feel so good when people around me say that ‘Ask Us Anything’ is so fun. I think comments like that ground me. It’s a program I can’t easily let go of.”
They also thanked the cast members, with PD Choi Chang Soo sharing, “When we get together and discuss in small groups, it’s so natural that it really feels like school. As they wear uniforms every week and clock-in to a specific set, I began to think that this place could really be like school to the cast. For six years, the seven cast members have consistently taken care of themselves. I’m thankful that we made it here without anyone falling behind.”
Regarding their special 300th episode, Hwang Sun Young shared, “Our motto is, ‘If we go wild, the next episode will be hard.’ We just want to incorporate the meaning of celebration into it, so I don’t think we’ll have a big special. However, we will invite some meaningful guests for episode 300.”
Hwang Sun Young continued to share her pride in the program, explaining, “When celebrities watch the program, they may feel that the guests are doing a lot and get scared [to appear]. However, the guests who felt most like that are the ones who say, ‘They treat us so much more comfortably than I had thought.'” Choi Chang Soo added, “For anyone who hasn’t been on ‘Ask Us Anything’ yet, please contact us. Don’t feel pressured, and come on the show.”
When asked about what makes their school concept so unique, Choi Chang Soo answered, “The strength that speaking informally holds is greater than you’d think. We’re the only variety program done informally. The quality and direction of the conversation itself is completely different.”
For their favorite episodes or guests, Hwang Sun Young shared, “Kim Hee Sun, who helped fulfill our 5 percent viewership ratings goal, was memorable, as well as Lee Kyung Kyu who had the longest filming time but left nothing to be cut out. IU contacted the production team first, saying, ‘I want to play with the cast.’ She even personally asked and brought Lee Joon Gi.”
Lastly, they were asked if they had any future wishes. Hwang Sun Young explained, “I hope the cast is healthy. Both the production team and the cast are getting older, so we can’t keep doing what we did in the past. Within that, we’ll try to show laughs that can be related to. The program will slowly change. It’s not that we haven’t been changing it because we weren’t noticing those things, but because sudden change would result in aversion. We are trying to slowly make change, including changing the cast’s characters. Please trust and watch over us.”
Watch an episode of “Ask Us Anything” below!