Lauren Ash loves chance to share ‘Scare Tactics’
Lauren Ash spent two years at a job where she came to work every day fearing someone would play a horrible practical joke on her. It wasn’t that she was working in a hostile work environment, but the natural concern that comes when you are part of a series called “Scare Tactics.”
Netflix is now airing episodes of the show from Seasons 4 and 5, hosted by Tracy Morgan. The show is presented in an uncensored form for the first time.
“That means there will be language and nudity. It is the way people have always wanted them,” Ash says with a laugh. “Working on the show was a lot of fun, and I will say it is probably the craziest job I will ever do. It certainly was an interesting experiment in sociology and how people will react in intense situations.”
The series originally aired from 2003-2013 on the Syfy cable channel, with Ash joining in 2010 to play a variety of roles in the elaborate scares of individuals targeted by friends or family members. Her work ranged from a driving instructor at a location overrun by ghouls to a leader of a secret society looking to lure men into their circle. The common thread was to have something go so wrong the target would be terrified.
“Scare Tactics” was a perfect fit for Ash, as the Toronto native is an alum of Second City Toronto and Chicago main stages. Being able to think on her feet was necessary, as there was never assurances in advance of how those being pranked would respond. By Ash’s count, only one of the hundreds of people she helped scare didn’t get the joke immediately but eventually came around.
“We are taking people on a roller coaster ride,” Ash says. “For a lot of people, when the reveal happens and they realize what has been happening to them is not real, there’s a real release. It’s the same reason people love horror movies or why people ride crazy roller coasters.
“It’s that adrenalin rush we manage to give people through an experience they will remember for the rest of their lives.”
The one thing Ash found through all the episodes was she was “approachably attractive” enough that people felt comfortable around her. Her face proved to be so trustworthy that after many of the scares, the person would tell her at the end that they trusted her, a key to making the scare work.
Ash had experience in the hidden camera genre before “Scare Tactics,” having worked on the Howie Mandel comedy “Howie Do It” in 2009. The short-lived series helped her land the “Scare Tactics” job. After the two reality comedies, Ash rolled up a long list of TV and film credits, including her current job as Dina Fox on NBC’s comedy “Superstore.”
Working on “Scare Tactics” was fun and exciting, but Ash has an even greater passion for working on “Superstore.” Not only has she been given a quirky character to play but she is excited the show is filmed in Southern California so she can be close to home. To her, the network comedy is a “dream job.”
Loves to scare
Depending on the reaction to “Scare Tactics,” new episodes could be ordered. Despite Ash loving the opportunity to scare the living daylights out of hundreds of people and often getting the itch to scare some people again, getting her to be part of any new seasons would take some maneuvering. Not only does she have a role on “Superstore” and is the voice of Scorpia in the Netflix original animated series “She-Ra and the Princess of Power,” Ash has become a regular celebrity guest on numerous network game shows.
As for never being the focus of a practical joke when she was working on “Scare Tactics,” the residual concerns of being on the show lasted long after she had moved on to other projects. She was on what Ash calls “a really bad first date” recently when she thought she was finally the subject of a horrible prank.
“The guy picked his nose and ate it in front on me,” Ash says. “In that moment, I thought ‘Oh my gosh they are finally getting me back.’ But I also know all the tells. I can look around a room and tell you if there are hidden cameras or not. I started looking around the room and saw there was no two-way glass. There (were) no security cameras visible. The prank was that it was real life.”