Exclusive: Dave Gregg and Cherie Gregg talk 'The Amazing Race'
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 02/27/2012
Dave Gregg and Cherie Gregg were eliminated during Sunday night's second broadcast of The Amazing Race's twentieth season.
The "Married Clowns" pair became the second team eliminated from the around-the-world competition after they arrived at the CBS reality show's second Pit Stop in Buenos Aires, Argentina in last place because they fell hours behind the other teams when attempting to complete the cattle-counting Roadblock and were unfortunately one of the four pairs to travel on a bus that got delayed due to a random shattered-window incident.
On Monday, Dave and Cherie talked to Reality TV World about their The Amazing Race experience -- including how much time they think elapsed between the bus delay and the time it took Dave to finish the Roadblock, why Dave ultimately struggled so much with the cattle task and why it was beyond his control, what adversities the couple had faced and overcome in their lives before competing on The Amazing Race, and how one smart idea allowed the couple to finish the "Boil My Water" Detour task before many of the other teams.
Reality TV World: How far behind Elliot Weber and Andrew Weber do you think you two arrived at the Pit Stop?
Dave Gregg: Oh my goodness, Elli and Andrew, how far behind at the Pit Stop...
Cherie Gregg: Probably a couple hours.
Dave Gregg: Yeah, yeah.
Cherie Gregg: I don't know, like an hour at least -- if not a couple hours. We were there for a long time.
Dave Gregg: Yeah.
Reality TV World: How long would you guys say it took Dave to finish the cattle counting Roadblock task and Cherie, what was going through your mind while he was attempting to complete it?
Dave Gregg: Honestly, I had no idea how long it was taking me, but I was just plugging away at it. But Cherie speculates it was about two hours.
Cherie Gregg: I think it might have been more.
Dave Gregg: More... (Laughs)
Cherie Gregg: We were there for a very long time. It was just -- it was a nightmare and I couldn't help him, and so, I was so glad that he didn't get too frustrated to the point of crying because I couldn't help him, and it would have made me cry more.
Dave Gregg: I didn't think it was worth crying over, quite frankly. I knew it was just math and it was just -- after having to deal with my dyslexia back when I was a teenager and the anxiety that I used to have about math, I knew that I had to push the anxiety away and just try to concentrate and focus on the problem at hand.
Reality TV World: So to elaborate a little more on what you just said, do you think it was the math skills that created an issue for you or do you think the issue was all the stress from the competition and the noise and seeing other teams pass you?
Dave Gregg: I think it was a combination of both, quite frankly. It was [the fact that] we had been traveling for days, we were exhausted and running on fumes. I had a terrible night sleep the night before on the bus because it kept having to be stopped to be repaired.
Cherie Gregg: Our heads -- we were in the next seats from where that window was broken and then they kept stopping to re-tape the window and it was a really loud [noisy] duct tape. So it was really very little sleep happening.
Dave Gregg: And so when it came down to the math skills, it was a matter of I literally hadn't done math -- long division -- in 20 years and I mean, with the inventions of calculators and computers and a wife who does all the math in our home, I just didn't have to deal with it. And not to mention I hadn't run up against my dyslexia in quite some time. So...
Cherie Gregg: He thought his calculating was wrong and he was just doing bad calculations, but he it turns out he was flipping the method.
Dave Gregg: I was doing the small -- I knew the method was I needed to do the small number, the number of cattle, into the kilos that was provided by the auctioneer. But I didn't realize that I was doing it from -- I was doing the small number into the big number, but from right to left, not left to right.
Cherie Gregg: When a dyslexic flips things, like a "D" to a "B" or --
Dave Gregg: I see it as correct.
Cherie Gregg: And you don't know that you're seeing it wrong. Yeah.
Reality TV World: The instructions of that Roadblock task said you had to complete the math problem before the auctioneer finished the process and moved onto the next corral of cattle. About how long would you say that window of time was? Did a short time period contribute to your struggle of finding the right answer, Dave?
Dave Gregg: Yes, it was about three minutes.
Cherie Gregg: Three minutes each time.
Dave Gregg: Each time.
Reality TV World: Oh wow, that was it?!
Dave Gregg: Yeah, that was it.
Cherie Gregg: And then you had to run downstairs to where the guy was and get your number in in-time.
Dave Gregg: Yeah.
Reality TV World: So based upon what you're saying, it sounds like you would basically blame the cattle task for demise, right? Were there any other major factors that you believe led to your elimination?
Cherie Gregg: Yeah, the bus as well.
Dave Gregg: The bus as well.
Cherie Gregg: We were very proud to have finished the solar kitchen task faster than the other people in our area because we started it last of the four teams in our area and finished it second, because Dave thought to just put half the water in and it boiled faster. So we were proud that we got out of there fast and got onto the second bus.
We were happy to know that there were teams on another bus behind us somewhere, but we didn't know how far behind. So, we thought we were in the middle of the pack, and then when the bus broke down, there's where the beginning of our demise went, because there is where we lost a lot of time.
Dave Gregg: And a lot of sleep.
Cherie Gregg: And a lot of sleep and a lot of stress started happening, and when you have a lack of sleep and adrenaline and now you know you're fighting for last, it puts a lot of pressure on you -- let alone massive anxiety. And when the cattle were all on top of each other and you don't know if your calculations are wrong or if you had counted the wrong number of cattle...
Dave Gregg: You don't know where you're going wrong.
Cherie Gregg: You don't know where you're going wrong and there were four of them at that last task, and only [Vanessa Macias] finished it quickly. The other three boys, from my point of view, looked like the three stooges because they were running up and down the stairs trying to give guesses every three minutes and it was like the blind leading the blind.
So even helping each other wasn't necessarily going to be helpful. They were all getting it wrong multiple times and we didn't realize until we saw it that the other two boys had actually teamed up in the end.
Reality TV World: We saw you guys saying that you felt your only hope was a non-elimination leg, so just to confirm, it seemed like you guys pretty much knew you were in last place leaving the cattle task, right?
Dave Gregg: Yes. I mean, they had already led the cattle away from the bins.
Cherie Gregg: If there were other teams coming in behind us, they wouldn't have taken the cattle away. (Laughs)
Dave Gregg: (Laughs) Yeah. We were sure that it was going to be us being the last team, but we were really hoping for the non-elimination.
Reality TV World: Dave, in your final words, you mentioned you and your wife had been through much worse during your 20 years of marriage than just being eliminated from The Amazing Race. I'm assuming part of that was referring to your cancer battles and you just mentioned struggling with dyslexia -- so is that what you were referring to? Would you mind talking about that a little bit and what you meant by that?
Dave Gregg: No, not at all. Yeah, I mean, when we first met and started dating, that's when I was first diagnosed with Hodgkins Disease and Cherie had a few years earlier dealt with...
Cherie Gregg: It was less than two years before...
Dave Gregg: 1988, yeah.
Cherie Gregg: My mom had died of lung cancer -- the kind of cancer you get from smoking three packs a day and she never smoked a cigarette in her life. And it was a horrible, miserable thing to watch her die that way.
Dave Gregg: And I told her that if she wanted to break off this relationship, she could, and I would thoroughly understand. But she didn't. She stuck it out and she stuck with me through that first round of Hodgkins and then fast forward to 2001...
Cherie Gregg: Ten years later...
Dave Gregg: Later... We're with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus and performing in the show and it turns out that I have another bout of Hodgkins Disease, so we knew there was a chance of it coming back and it came back and I had to leave for three months to get radiation treatments. Cherie came with me and she stuck with me through that too, and...
Cherie Gregg: It's just scary that you don't know how fast it's going to move or if it's curable. Dave was just so lucky to have survived it twice and so many people...
Dave Gregg: Don't.
Cherie Gregg: Don't even survive it once. We're very lucky, very fortunate, to be able to lead the life we lead. We get to entertain people, make people laugh for a living and then have this great, amazing adventure with The Amazing Race. We wished it could have been longer, but just to get the opportunity to do it...
Dave Gregg: It was a great privilege and an honor.
Reality TV World: Well, I think you both are very strong! So why did you guys ultimately decide to take on the "Boil My Water" Detour task instead of the "Light My Fire" one? Looking back and seeing how Art Velez and J.J. Carrell breezed through the fire task, do you wish you had switched tasks or picked "Light My Fire" to begin with?
Cherie Gregg: We originally wanted to do "Light My Fire" -- yeah, the fire task. But just like J.J. and Art, we couldn't find where to go for it.
Dave Gregg: Right.
Cherie Gregg: They spent a lot of -- unlike J.J. and Art, when we saw the "Boil My Water," we were like, "Let's just do this." We knew where this was and we knew what it was. When we left the Cafayate Town Square, our intentions were to go to "Light My Fire," thinking it would take a long time to boil water.
Dave Gregg: But it turns out they had something else planned for us. (Laughs)
Cherie Gregg: But we couldn't find it! So I was like, this is here. Let's just get this started and do it [and like I mentioned earlier] And we finished it quickly because of the water.
Dave Gregg: Yeah, actually because we were the last ones in our area to set it up, we ended up being second...
Cherie Gregg: To leave.
Dave Gregg: To leave.
Cherie Gregg: Out of the four teams that were in our area.
Dave Gregg: Simply because I knew not to put the whole bottle of water in the tea kettle and only do half the bottle because you only needed it to whistle. It didn't need to [be a full water bottle].
Cherie Gregg: So, yeah. Dave knew the science of how to make the water boil quick, which was great for us, but everybody has their strengths and weaknesses. And then when we got to the cattle task, the clue was "Where's the beef?" If we had realized it was going to have anything to do with math, I would have done it. It's just automatic.
Dave Gregg: At first I thought I was going to eat a cow. (Laughs)
Reality TV World: You guys were on that second bus heading to Buenos Aires -- the one that ended up being delayed because of the shattered window. You talked a little bit about what happened, but how much time do you think you lost from the incident and did you have any idea the third bus passed you along the way?
Dave Gregg: We suspected the third bus would probably head past us, but we weren't sure, quite frankly. Some things might have happened to them too. We had no idea.
Cherie Gregg: We didn't know how long -- how much further behind the other teams were leaving. We finally get on the road after they repair the window with the tape, but then we'd be going highway speed and the wind would catch the tape and start pulling the plastic off.
So we'd stop again and just when you're finally falling asleep, you hear [noises] and it'd be waking us up again -- the re-taping -- because we kept stopping.
Dave Gregg: Yeah, what was supposed to be an 18-hour bus ride turned out to be a 20 or 22-hour ride.
Cherie Gregg: Yeah, we got in at like 9:30. I can't remember when we were supposed to get in, but it was hours later.
Reality TV World: So it seems obvious to say then that if your bus never broke down, you would probably have finished ahead of Nary Ebeid and Jamie Graetz and Kerri Paul and Stacy Bowers, correct?
Dave Gregg: Right!
Cherie Gregg: Yes.
Reality TV World: Nary and Jamie admitted this episode they had lied to all of you by telling everyone they were teachers instead of federal agents, which is their actual profession. Did you believe they were teachers while you were on the show and what was your reaction when you discovered otherwise? Would you really have been that threatened had you known what they actually did for a living while you were racing against them? Because it's safe to assume that's why they lied to begin with.
Dave Gregg: I don't think we would have actually been threatened by what their professions are exactly. Everybody goes in -- this is a great cast. This is a great cross-section of American culture, and what was great was everybody goes into these tasks on even ground, really. We all had strengths and weaknesses.
Cherie Gregg: Some people were definitely and obviously better physically than us but we didn't go out on a physical challenge. And then it didn't matter how physical you were or what training you had or how many years you were in the army or what special abilities you had.
If you're on a bus that gets broken down, you have no control over it. If you get in a cab with a driver who says he knows the directions and doesn't know, you have no control over it. There's a lot of luck involved, so...
Dave Gregg: Finding out that Jamie and Nary were federal agents over teachers wasn't really a game-changer for us, but...
Cherie Gregg: I believed they were teachers! (Laughs)
Dave Gregg: That they were teachers! (Laughs) I take everything at face value until proven otherwise.
Cherie Gregg: I don't like being lied to, but I also understand it was a game.
Dave Gregg: It was a game, yeah.
Cherie Gregg: And that was part of their strategy.
Dave Gregg: Right. It wasn't personal.
Cherie Gregg: Our strategy was to be friendly and have fun and hopefully people would want to help us and want to share answers or share ideas.
Dave Gregg: And we did have quite a few sharing scenes.
Reality TV World: During last week's episode, Misa Tanaka and Maiya Tanaka got eliminated because they couldn't find the Pit Stop and where The Amazing Race host Phil Keoghan was standing on the mat although they were running all over the correct area. Since you finished the first leg before them, did you see them running around lost and what was your reaction? Did you think it was actually an easy mistake to make or were you wondering how they possibly could have missed the finish?
Cherie Gregg: There were a lot of different areas and a lot going on around the area.
Dave Gregg: Yeah, it was rather confusing to find Phil, but quite frankly, we didn't see what happened at all until...
Cherie Gregg: They were there.
Dave Gregg: They were there. So.
Reality TV World: What were your thoughts when you found out Rachel Reilly and Brendon Villegas were competing on The Amazing Race? Did you feel they were going to be a big threat and at what point did you discover they had competed on Big Brother? Because it seemed like most of the teams didn't weren't aware of who they were.
Dave Gregg: We were one of those teams that weren't aware of who they were. (Laughs)
Cherie Gregg: The rumor had gotten to us when we met them in the airport in L.A. Someone had said that they heard they were from Big Brother and we love and watch The Amazing Race, but we weren't -- we don't get to watch TV very often, so we didn't watch Big Brother.
So we had no idea, but we talked to them in the airport and they seemed nice enough. Again, we take everyone at face value and until they hurt us, then there's no reason for us to hurt back or be mean back.
Dave Gregg: Yeah, we took them at face value.
Cherie Gregg: And let them prove themselves one way or the other to us.
Reality TV World: Looking back, do you think you two or any of your fellow Racers were upset that Rachel and Brendon were competing on The Amazing Race for a million dollars despite the fact Rachel had already won a million from competing on Big Brother? How did you guys feel about that?
Dave Gregg: Honestly, I knew whether they won a big prize or whether they were five-time millionaires from the lottery before, I don't think it makes a difference. Going into the Race, you do it for the adventure, for the love of travel, for the love of being part of something.
Cherie Gregg: And some people do it for the million dollars.
Dave Gregg: That's true!
Cherie Gregg: You have people from all walks of life, here for all different reasons.
Dave Gregg: That's true.
Cherie Gregg: And I believe in making your dreams come true and if this is their dream, they have the right to try to make that dream come true as well and it's, you know. I think everybody -- again, I don't judge a book by it's cover. You have to give everybody a fair chance to prove themselves to you.
Dave Gregg: Just because they won a million dollars before doesn't mean they're going to win a million dollars again.
Cherie Gregg: No, and just because we feel lucky in life doesn't mean we don't deserve another chance to be on The Amazing Race.
Dave Gregg: Exactly.
Reality TV World: How were you cast on The Amazing Race and was it your first time applying for the show?
Cherie Gregg: No, it wasn't our first time applying for the show. We applied 10 years ago for Season 4. We had applied and another set of clowns [Jon Weiss] and [Al Rios] had applied that year, and actually another set of clowns [Sean and Kurt] had also applied.
None of us knew the others had applied, and we all worked together, and it turned out Jon and Al got on the Race and we never heard from them. We applied again the next year and realized they probably weren't going to want clowns so fast again.
Dave Gregg: So, we went on about our lives thinking that being on The Amazing Race was not going to happen. And then lo and behold, we get a call that...
Cherie Gregg: ...From our publicist that someone from The Amazing Race thought that we'd be good for the show and encouraged us to apply again. So we went through the whole casting process and sent in a video just like anyone else, and they liked us! Lucky us!