Six out of ten acts successfully raised the Wall on the first episode of "Rising Star," but the performer with the brightest smile after the ABC show's premiere was none other than the friendly expert, Brad Paisley.
"It's a blast, isn't it? When the Wall went up for that first time, or the minute that hillbilly opened his mouth!" the country star told reporters of the night's first auditionee, Georgia youth pastor Joshua Peavy, following the live taping in Los Angeles. "It was ten times more fun than I thought it would be."
Of the celebrity talent on the singing show—also including Ludacris, Kesha and host Josh Groban—Paisley seemed to be having the most fun throughout the broadcast, happily standing up to shake hands with audience members near his console-equipped chair and shouting to crowds on the other side of the studio. "They're nice so far—we'll see when they turn on me because I voted somebody off, and how that's gonna go!"
Still, each time he opens his mouth to make a comment, it's with a twinge of hesitance. He noted that the scariest thing about being on live television is "saying something dumb," as the first minutes of the episode had him crudely joking that Bill Clinton is more Kesha's presidential "type" than Barack Obama. "I was joking around, come on! She loved it," he told The Hollywood Reporter. "What's great is that we're buddies, all of us. So when I'm jibbing her, trust me, she's fine. She had a dollar sign in her name! She's fine."
Paisley told reporters that he loves the mostly-live aspect of the show, as he's voting alongside his seven-year-old son, Huck. "I got a text in the middle of the show that said, 'Huck disagrees!' I wrote back and said, 'You tell him he's not the expert yet!'"
Of the format altogether, he explained, "These shows have felt a little tired for a while to me—although they're great, these shows that do this have had their highs—but we're talking about now is 2014. How do you do it to where it feels like everything else in your life, to where it's instant? If you're influencing something, why should you have to wait? ... That's how we find the next Carrie Underwood or Kelly Clarkson or somebody like that. You're not gonna find them by giving America anything but ultimate control."
While America is voting to discover a new musical act, viewers will inevitably get to know the country star a little better by watching him each week. "They'll find out that I'm a smart ass!" he laughed to THR. "In hopefully a good way, because I definitely am always looking for the funny angle at any given time. I think humor fixes everything."
And like the show's own real-time voting, he's ready for instant feedback from the audience about himself and his jokes. "So everybody remember: when I say something, I mean it to get a laugh! it's not to be mean, it's to get a laugh. Nine times out of ten? We'll see if that works. You can tell me when I don’t, when I fail!"
"Rising Star" airs Sundays on ABC.
- This story first appeared on THR.com