People: Marty L. Parker adds 'Game Show Host' to his 'Bucket List'

Erica Thompson

Several years ago, Marty L. Parker was a trader at the New York Stock Exchange. He attributes his successful, 12-year career to his hyperactive brain - a side-effect of ADHD - which allowed him to read the stock prices on the monitors at a rapid pace.

But he was bored. "My creative outlet when I was a trader was building theme beds," Parker said. His creations included a bed resembling a saloon with doors and another that looked like a mountain with a train making its way around.

Parker eventually left Wall Street and channeled his creativity into his company, Bucket List Productions. His first creation was "Mud Ninja," a 5K mud race through obstacles in front of spectators, a course he built on his father's farm in Greenfield, Ohio, in 2012.

Parker is passionate about making interactive entertainment accessible to anyone who wants to participate and purchase a ticket, unlike reality TV shows.

"You have to get chosen. [It] kinda makes me mad. I tried to get on 'Survivor' three times [and] 'The Amazing Race' twice. They didn't pick me," he said.

In 2013, Parker developed a second production that is perhaps his most well-known: "Trapped in a Room with a Zombie." Fortunately, he created the experience at the beginning of what is now a "room escape" craze. Essentially, a group of participants is locked in a room and must solve puzzles and decipher clues in a limited amount of time in order to escape. But "Trapped" adds a unique detail: a tied-up zombie is in the room, and its chain is released a foot from the wall every five minutes.

The "theater piece," as Parker calls it, is located downstairs at the Bosco Center Downtown, and in seven other locations throughout the country. Still, with over 800 industry competitors, Parker is constantly coming up with new ideas, like "The Game Show Game Show," which has been open upstairs in the Bosco Center since May.

Anyone who purchases a ticket can star in the game show, which is broadcast live on the internet. Participants are given a web link to forward to family and friends who want to watch at home. In addition to answering pop culture trivia questions, contestants spin the "wheel of fortune cookie" to select from a variety of other familiar-sounding games. "Tear Tractor" involves a moldy cheese-flavored jelly bean on a toy tractor, "Teal or no Teal" includes greenish-blue briefcases and "Let's Make a Squeal" features a squeaky pig.

Parker will even customize questions for large groups like bachelorette parties. "I did it with my best friend [Chuck]'s 40th birthday party," he said. "We had a category called 'Chuck's underwear.'"

Winners are awarded tickets to other room escapes or gift cards to local businesses. And everyone leaves with a special consolation prize.

Parker hosts the show as "Harry Pinklebottom" with assistance from a Marilyn Monroe lookalike co-host, "Vanessa Fairbanks."

"It's a lot of improv," said Associate Producer Tabbie Tirey, who also portrays Fairbanks. "There is a lot of banter back and forth and messing around with the contestants."

Parker honed his entertaining skills by working as a mascot before he became a stock trader. He portrayed Ohio University's Rufus (formerly Mr. Bobcat) for three years, and even Lou Seal for the San Francisco Giants.

Beyond providing a fun time with "Trapped" and "The Game Show Game Show," Parker's primary goal is to enrich the corporate teams that sign up for the experiences. "Trapped" is all about team building for companies, which often struggle with communication issues. Employees are often afraid to share ideas due to a fear of failing, Parker said.

"This entire concept is based upon failure. Failure is your friend. The only way you're gonna know and get to the answer quicker is through failure," he said.

On the other hand, "The Game Show Game Show" is about team bonding. "Trust is really built outside the workplace, getting to know the people [and] getting to care about the people," he said.

Parker is already at work on his next big idea. The project, a combination of the reality competition show "Wipeout" and "The Walking Dead," is right in line with his vision for Bucket List Productions.

"If you had a list of all the things you want to do before you die, we want to produce events that are on that list," he said.

About Marty L. Parker

Age: 41

Day Job: Owner of Bucket List Productions, LLC

Hometown: Greenfield, Ohio

Current neighborhood: Dublin

Currently listening to:Random game show sounds (literally)

Favorite restaurant in Columbus: Piada

Favorite TV show: "Turn"

Favorite movie: "The Goonies"

What food trend do you want to see end and why? None. "I am a huge fan of everything edible."