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'Would I Lie' host Aasif Mandvi: Good lies include 'certain amount of truth'

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The lies on "Would I Lie to You?" amuse host Aasif Mandvi. Photo courtesy of The CW
The lies on "Would I Lie to You?" amuse host Aasif Mandvi. Photo courtesy of The CW

LOS ANGELES, April 7 (UPI) -- Aasif Mandvi said the game show, Would I Lie to You?, premiering Saturday on The CW, tests contestants' ability to tell a convincing lie.

Mandvi hosts the show in which one team must guess whether the story a member of the opposing team tells is true.

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"The best lies are the ones that have a certain amount of truth in them, so you can pull from your own life," Mandvi said in a recent Zoom roundtable.

"If it's a story about high school, you can talk about going to high school and the kind of high school you went to, even though the story ultimately might be a lie," Mandvi said.

The CW's Would I Lie to You? is an adaptation of the British game show that has been on since 2007. In the U.S. edition, Matt Walsh and Sabrina Jalees lead the teams.

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When the contestants pick a card with a true story, it is their job to make it sound as suspicious as possible without actually lying. Liars sometimes trip themselves up by trying to sound too truthful, Mandvi said.

For example, if they add extraneous details, the contestants may catch contradictions.

"You've given out so many details that now they're cross-referencing things," Mandvi said. "That's part of the strategy of the game of how much do you reveal and how much do you not reveal?"

Two different celebrities join each of Walsh's and Jalees' teams each week. When it's a team member's turn, they read a card and their opponents ask them questions to decide if they're telling the truth or lying.

"They're making it up on the spot," Mandvi said. "When they pick up that card, read it and it's a lie, that is the first time they're reading that card."

The producers and writers of Would I Lie to You? create the lies. The true stories come from extensive interviews they conduct with each contestant.

"Sometimes those interviews can be a couple of hours," Mandvi said. "They are remembering it like, 'Oh right, that insignificant thing that I mentioned in an interview.'"

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Mandvi, Walsh and Jalees participate in those interviews, too, so that they sometimes pick one of their own true stories.

"They talk to me about childhood and school and being a dad, just delve into your personal life and try to find a great story," Mandvi said.

Celebrity guests will include actors John Hodgman, Richard Kind, Nikki M. James, comedians Jordan Klepper and Rachel Feinstein and former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.

Mandvi said Would I Lie to You? does not specifically seek out improv comics, although some of the above practice improvisation. Mandvi said producers sought good storytellers within and outside the entertainment industry.

"Preet Bharara has no improv background, but he's a great storyteller," Mandvi said. "It really is just about people who can tell a good story and make it believable."

Mandvi has been acting since 1988. He was a Daily Show correspondent under Jon Stewart from 2006 to 2017.

Would I Lie to You? allows Mandvi to shed the political trappings of his humorous correspondent persona. However, Mandvi said all of his appearances are truthful in some way.

"There's a version of me in everything," Mandvi said. "Whenever you're performing in front of a live audience, you're always doing an exaggerated version of yourself."

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Mandvi recently played the role of Ben Shakir on the drama Evil. Mandvi recommended the British Would I Lie to You? to Evil executive producer Robert King, who went on to produce the CW Lie.

"Next time I saw him, [he] said, 'I love that show, I'm addicted to it, I watch it all the time. Why are we not doing an American one?'" Mandvi said. "Literally, that's where it started."

Would I Lie to You? airs Saturdays at 8:30 p.m. EDT on The CW.

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