Sunday, April 02, 2023

Funny Games

Got a quick start this morning finishing The Secret Garden, then having breakfast. Listened to the Peggy Lee Sugar n' Spice album while I ate. I'm guessing this is from the early 60's, due to the inclusion of "I Believe In You" from the 1961 show How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying. Other good ones in this collection of uptempo ballads include "Teach Me Tonight," "The Best Is Yet To Come," "I Don't Wanna Leave You Now," and "I've Got the World On a String." 

Peggy hadn't even finished when I jumped on my bike and headed to work. Work was off-and-on busy. Not only is it the beginning of the month, but we're a week away from the biggest holiday of the spring season. I was tired and frustrated and had a hard time dealing with the volume, especially when my printer stopped working for some reason at one point. I had a long line that had to move to another register. They said they weren't upset, but I felt bad. It slowed down long enough later in the day that they pulled me briefly to sweep the store, and my relief was on time.

Went straight home and into dinner and YouTube. Finished the night with funny game shows in honor of April Fool's Day yesterday. Comedy and game shows go back to the genre's beginnings. There were game shows on radio that revolved around laughter, like It Pays to Be Ignorant. Groucho Marx had by far the most popular comedy-oriented game show on early TV. You Bet Your Life was basically Groucho making cracks at very strange people before asking a few trivia questions. Check out the lady with the crazy "sheep hair" and the opera singer in this episode from 1956!

You Bet Your Life was so popular, it spawned imitations. Two for the Money started off on NBC, but it finished out its run on CBS. Herb Shriner was the original host; by the time this episode debuted, he'd been replaced by Sam Levenson. This is basically an early Family Feud with solo contestants, with each contestant having to guess as many answers that fit a given subject as they can, but it's mostly a set-up for Levenson's wiseguy humor. 

The original Funny You Should Ask debuted on ABC in 1968, as part of a block of racy game shows with The Newlywed Game and The Dating Game. Here, host Lloyd Thaxton asks a five-person panel a question about their lives while the contestants are in a soundproof booth. The contestants have to match which celebrity said what answer. This was kind of fun, sort of an early cross between Tattletales and the later version of Match Game; too bad it only ran a year, and most of it was wiped. 

Speaking of the later 70's version of Match Game, that may be the long-runner champ among comedy shows along with You Bet Your Life. Its evening shows could get even racier, as in this episode from 1979. You never knew what would happen, whether it was Brett Somers and Charles Nelson Reilly sniping at each other or Gene Rayburn doing bad imitations or an especially strange answer from the contestants.

Match Game also spawned imitations. Celebrity Sweepstakes ran for two years on NBC in the mid-'70's. This one has a horse racing theme, with celebrities sitting in a box resembling a starting gate. The contestants make bets on whether or not they think a celebrity's right about the answer to a question. They're even given odds on the celebrities' likelihood of being right. Fun gameplay with a unique theme. Sadly, this one seems to simply be lost, disappointing for a game that was fun and challenging.

Make Me Laugh was much simpler. Three up-and-coming comedians tossed out their best jokes to try and make two regular contestants and a celebrity laugh. The original version with Robert Q. Lewis in 1958 only ran for three months. Bobby Van hosted a syndicated revival in 1979 and 1980. The episode I have here showcases a very young Bob Saget, along with Bruce Baum. Tiny Tim is the celebrity.

Kwik Witz  from 1996 is an improv show on the same lines as Who's Line Is It Anyway? or Random Acts of Comedy. Two teams throw out riffs on various subjects the host suggests. The winners were selected by the audience and usually won a gag gift of some kind. Wayne Brady is on the episode I have here. I can see why this was a four-year hit in syndication, often running after Saturday Night Live on NBC affiliates. It's fun to watch everyone run through their little skits, often on some pretty strange subjects.

Laugh your way into the spring with these wacky comedies!

1 comment:

Linda said...

Two for the Money was a very odd show. Herb Shriner was certainly "an acquired taste."