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The grim lives of game show hosts

April 28, 2004

What is it about watching other people win things that we find so enthralling? My personal gain from getting No Whammies! is certainly questionable. And I'm pretty sure my life probably would have turned out better if I hadn't been privy to who's making whoopee and telling Bob Eubanks about it or what Stud Number 3 did on his date with Becky behind the bleachers at the abandoned high school.

Even those of you who eschew the likes of Hollywood Squares and "only watch Jeopardy," please remember that Alex Trebek also hosted the daytime Classic Concentration. This cliffhanger of a show brought to life the basic game of "memory" you played on the living room carpet with the babysitter. A game that any kid the age of four should be able to master (unless they happen to be the children of game show contestants, I imagine). Mustache or no, Mr. Trebek is still Canadian and was definitely living multiple lives. On one end he serves the high brow crossword puzzle crowd, while on the other, he's giving hope to fat housewives everywhere when they squeal that they've SOLVED THE RIDDLE before the retards on the show can. The internal battle constantly rages between the "oh, I don't watch that stupid trash" to the fact that you secretly never miss Supermarket Sweep.

With that I would like to briefly expose those special hosts who were only smiling toothily on the outside. Inside, their lives were blinking, beeping, spinning, clapping, big money worlds of pain.

Marc Summers

I Double Dare you not to wash your hands! Even if you won't admit it, you all wanted to be on Double Dare. Weren't you just dying to stick your entire arm into a giant snot-filled nostril to snatch the all important flag that would allow you to skid on to the next slopulent obstacle? The magical words "Physical Challenge" still draw a certain sense of awe. Who cares what the answer is - let me at the slime pit!

First I want to get this out of the way: fuck Family Double Dare. You think I'd want to share that glory with my parents? It is written that parents are strictly forbidden from entering the kid world. My mother has no business going headfirst down a slide into a pile of fake dogshit...oh wait... But seriously, I hated watching some poor kid's uncoordinated dad try to do the egg carry on the spoon stunt across the stage. I guess it was funny seeing someone else's dad wipe out on his ass, but if it were me, I only saw it for what it was: he was ruining my chance to participate in the Obstacle Course which, in the larger picture, meant I would not win the Grand Prize. Boiling blood would be an understatement

How would you be able to face the humiliation back at school if you didn't propel the One-Ton Hamster Wheel fast enough? Every kid on the planet was watching this show (oh - except for those kids whose parents wouldn't get them cable - ha ha! You're poor!). If you failed, it was absolute ridicule for sure.

Amidst all this chaos was Marc Summers. Jesus bless his soul, he'd dreamed of being a game show host since boyhood and now found himself being daily rained on with slime, gak, whipped cream, elbow grease, syrup, marshmallows and the remains of whatever the Nickelodeon staff had eaten for lunch that day -- all the while cursed with a raging case of OCD. Poor Marc - he just wanted to read some questions, wash his hands 1800 times a day and pay the mortgage. He did not deserve such torment. But, like any tormented celebrity, he managed to cash in on his strife by "writing" a book about his personal struggles. He hosted a cool show, but he's pretty lame when you really stop to think about it. I'm moving on.

Ray Combs

Ray Combs This is honestly the most tragic. He is the only we can truly speak of in the past tense. When the surveys of what hundreds of people had to say became too much for him to bear, he hung himself in a closet.

I loved Family Feud probably more than any other game show. Unlike Family Double Dare, I really would have braved the cruel public eye to appear on the show with my kin. I always tried to picture what my family's opening "portrait" would have been. The first thing that usually comes to mind is an axe. And then everything goes dark.

But let us not forget the happy times! First - Ray was the audience "warm-up" comic before such laugh attacks as Perfect Strangers and Amen. When you get to heaven, you can thank Ray for prolonging Sherman Hemsley's career. Hallelujah! He be saved! That was when he landed the choice gig hostin the Feud. It was clear Ray had made it when he looked perfectly at home "borrowing" women's high heels and tromping around the stage. Perhaps he was trying to make up for the fact that he was born just above the dwarf margin and wanted that extra few inches. Or rather, he was suppressing the little girl who was screaming to "let me out of this closet now!" Either way, trouble was a-brewin. Ray lost his show, he lost his wife, he pretty much just lost IT. Out of a hundred people surveyed, what are some of the most common ways to commit suicide?

And the Survey Says!

  1. Pills & Booze
  2. Shooting yourself in the head
  3. Courtney Love shooting you in the head and writing the suicide note
  4. Jumping from a building
  5. Jumping from a bridge
  6. Provoking a badger to attack
  7. Hanging yourself in a closet. Michael Hutchence seconds that.

Chuck Woolery

Sources have recently revealed Chuck Woolery's secret plot to strong arm Clear Channel into turning over full control of its assets, stations and affiliates. In his possession are vials of a flesh eating virus so potent that will it wipe out all of humankind in mere days. Do not underestimate the powers of Chuck. The wolf-like grin that always guaranteed he'd be back in two and two also betrays a certain evil reserved for few others who have trod this good earth. Pol Pot, Hitler, Oprah....none can stand up to what Chuck is sure to someday deliver: a love connection between the people of earth and certain doom. Don't fuck with Chuck; he'll just as soon tear out your throat with his giant mandible as he would send you out on a shitty date with a girl who wants a guy with a "good sense of humor."

Bob Barker

The Price is Right, bitches. Unlike some of these other hosts, Bob definitely has embraced his career. In more ways than one. Let's see what's behind door number one -- a gorgeous living room set! From the American Expressions collection, Thomasville offers a you a luxurious leather sofa-bed, loveseat and matching end tables. Sure to make any family feel at home! And door number two? A trip for two to Orlando, Florida! The beautiful Sunshine State, where at any moment a deranged truck driver can sneak into your hotel room, kill you and then dump your body by the interstate! And finally, Rod, let me see door number three - whoa, I think we have a winner: a sexual harassment suit from spokes-model Dian Parkinson! (yes, like the disease.)

So there was Dian. Holly was the redhead. And Janice was, um, the other one. Bob didn't care; he just wanted a piece of (aging) spokes-model ass. My favorite part was when the models dressed up like safari adventurers or hula girls during the Showcase Showdown to go along with whatever theme the producers dreamt up in order to get them into something revealing. I never did see any of them dress up like a dinette set -- that would have been totally hot.

Bedazzled! Along with the 115 year old host still scratching around the hen house, this show is guilty of other grave sins. For instance, sequined sweatshirts, gay sailors and serious head wounds frequently made their way into the daytime spotlight. How many times did some overzealous fanboy spin the Wheel a little too fast and bash himself in head with it? Bob always sort of stood there with his skinny mic looking uncomfortable. He probably isn't allowed to lay hands on the contestants. He just can't be trusted like in the old days.

You may not immediately see the connection between 55-year-old women from Wisconsin and drag queens. The obscene over-use of the BeDazzler spans the bridge between those having hot flash action and those having hot ass action. Middle aged women get their hands on the BeDazzler and pretty soon every sweatshirt they own is covered in rhinestones and sequins. I need not speak of the importance of the hallowed rhinestone to the tranny's fabulous collection de couture.

Which reminds me: please take a moment to quietly honor the passing of Rod Roddy, the most sequined, bedazzled of them all. Whenever I think of Rod Roddy and his technicolor dreamcoats, I imagine a lonely spinster locked up in a high tower slaving away day and night to produce yet another glittering outfit. She toils, arthritis in her fingers aching, in order to make sure each coat has the just the right amount of glam, while allowing enough room for comfortable movement in the shoulders. He was a big man, afterall. And a big man's coat takes a damn lot of sequins.

Bob wanted me to make sure I passed this on: please help control the pussy, er, pet population. Spay or neuter your pet. I'll see you next time.

Come on down!

Rod Roddy, RIP

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