We talked to American Ninja Warrior host Matt Iseman and athlete Jessie Graff

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‘American Ninja Warrior’ Continues to Evolve in Unscripted Landscape

American Ninja Warrior’s ninth season is coming to a close. Denver is a hot spot for the show’s participants and home one of its hosts. Matt Iseman is a Denver native. The show even shot an episode at Civic Center Park this season.

9NEWS spoke with Iseman and popular American Ninja Warrior athlete, Jessie Graff on Friday morning. They talked about this season and their thoughts on Denver.

9NEWS: Jessie, you’ve been on the show for a few seasons now. What’s different this time around?

Jessie Graff: Well it’s been an exciting season. Like I got to go farther than I’ve ever gone on the City Finals course, which is kind of my favorite course that I still haven’t beaten yet. But, you know, placing, I got fourth place. So that was really exciting for me. I’m stronger, I’m faster, and I didn’t go as far on Stage One. I didn’t get to hit a buzzer, but falls are just a part of the journey.

9NEWS: I told my sister I’d be talking to you guys this morning. She told me “OMG, Jessie is my idol”. So, she had the question, what is your pre-course ritual?

Jessie: I basically just say as calm as I can for a long time. You know when people are always coming up like, “Are you ready?” And I’m like, “Nope…Hanging out.” *laughs* I refuse to get amped up. Adrenaline is a powerful drug and you have to conserve it for those moments. So I just, I watch every competitor, I analyze every detail. I figure out the physics. I come up with a strategy. I watch people do that, understand why it’s wrong, come up with a new strategy, break down everything, and once I’m sure I have it, then I find all the things I don’t have. And just keep going over and over until it’s my turn, even until the last second. That’s pretty much it. Five to ten minutes before my run, I start warming up, maybe a little sprint in the morning beforehand to just wake my body up. It’s not so much about rituals as it is about analyzing.

Matt: For me, I have a Red Bull and some of my mom’s chocolate chip cookies. That’s why it was nice being in Denver. That’s where my parents are from.

Jessie: Matt, where’re your vegetables?

Matt: I know. I cheat when I’m about to host.

9NEWS: Matt, you’re actually from Denver. And you got to shoot an episode here back in May. What was it like coming home?

Matt: It’s the best. I got to stay with my mom and dad, Mike and Joan. I slept in my bedroom, which is unchanged since June of 1989, when I graduated from high school. My brother and his wife came out with my niece, Claire, who just started kindergarten. So, Claire, I hope you’re not watching this. I hope you’re studying right now for kindergarten. But it was amazing to be home and it’s so cool too because so many great ninjas, like the Wolfpack, are from Denver. I feel like Denver is one of the hot bed cities for American Ninja Warrior. And it was so fun to have my friends come to the course, bring their kids out and see American Ninja Warrior live.

9NEWS: So maybe some future ninjas there?

Jessie: So many. The kids are getting so strong. It’s crazy to see.

Matt: And I’ll be having Thanksgiving dinner at my parents’ house. So that’s big too.

9NEWS: Matt, many don’t know that you were actually a resident at University of Colorado hospital before you made the jump to comedy. How did you make that transition?

Matt: Well residency was an interesting time. I know there’s Dr. Bob and [Dr.] Kelly, who are my fellow residents who are still saving lives there. But for me, it just ended up, my heart wasn’t in it. And I decided to take a shot and try to find something that I love, and I found it in entertainment. And it’s funny, it’s something that Jessie talks about too, I think, is, working hard is the secret in life. But when you find something that you love, it makes it a lot easier to work hard. For me, talking about “Ninjas”, doing stand up comedy, I’m gonna be at Comedy Works in November, and for Jessie, I know training is that thing. And that’s one of the great secrets in life. Find something you’re passionate about, and you’ll never work a day in your life.

9NEWS: Well what can you tell me about Monday’s finale?

Jessie: Probably how intense the obstacles are.

Matt: Oh my god, it’s going to be so hard. I’m excited. Brian from the Wolfpack, I think, is sticking around. Ian is in it. Denver is going to be represented. Fort Collins, I should say. And Brighton. It’s gonna be awesome. I know my parents are going to be watching, if you want to go by and watch with them. They love to host. They host a good American Ninja Warrior viewing party.

Jessie: Oh yeah, that’s good.

9NEWS: Thanks for talking to us Matt and Jessie.

Jessie: Thank you.

Matt: Thanks. Bye Claire!

Article originally posted on 9News

Matt Iseman
Matt Iseman
I'm the host of American Ninja Warrior and I'm squaring off against 15 other celebrities, all representing their favorite charities while vying for the title of “The Celebrity Apprentice.”
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