Sunday, July 08, 2012

How many of you contestants are from out of town?

The life of an aspiring stand up comedian is a grueling one. Years of knocking around, working crappy comedy clubs, first on open mic nights before eight drunks, then being banished to “the road”. Playing towns where you’re the first Jew they’ve ever seen, waiters talking and serving during your set, hecklers, hecklers who are funnier than you, “half price beer and weapons welcome” night, retirement homes where it’s hard to hear over the oxygen tanks, endless meals at Shoneys, all for little or no pay. It’s a tremendous sacrifice with absolutely no guarantees. But if you’re good, REALLY good, and you pay your dues, catch a few breaks then maybe – just MAYBE you could grab the brass ring –

…and become the next Wink Martindale.

It seems that the new pot of gold at the end of stand-up rainbows is hosting game shows. Howie Mandel, Bob Saget, Louie Anderson, Jeff Foxworthy, and now Drew Carey are leading contestants through bonus rounds. This is bad news for TV weathermen, disc jockeys, and Regis Philbin.  Let's revive THE WEAKEST LINK with Roseanne (it would be worth it just to hear her try to pronounce the questions).

I’m only sorry Sam Kinison isn’t still alive to host THE PRICE IS RIGHT. Couldn’t you just see it?

“No, you stupid bitch! $135.95 for a Hamilton Beach 4-slice toaster? Do you live in a FUCKING CAVE?! It’s $42.99. It’s a fucking toaster! It cooks up bread. How much do you pay for things? That shitty T-Shirt you’re wearing on NATIONAL TELEVISION, how much did you pay for that? $4000?! Jesus, even the dumb motherfucker next to you was only off by ten bucks and he couldn’t pour piss out of a boot if the instructions were written on the heel!”

Wait a minute. Does anybody have Lewis Black’s number?

The bottom line: if you’re a young comic coming up, don’t worry about your material, just memorize the rules for the wet T-shirt contest and never miss a chance to emcee karaoke night.

22 comments:

Phillip B said...

Lewis Black's attempt at a game show proved he was not Groucho. (This stuff might be harder than it looks.)

And we do miss Sam, and his voice. He would have been a thrill to see him at a Tea Party rally....

Phillip B said...

Ahem. It would have been a thrill to see Sam Kinison at a Tea Party rally.

And a comfort if I could type better with my thumbs...

David Schwartz said...

Ah, you totally nailed Sam Kineson's delivery! Thanks for the laugh this morning!

steve said...

Drew Carey has done a pretty good job on TPIR.

Ane said...

Reminds me of this interview I saw with Alfonso Ribiero (sp?), the short guy from Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. They asked him if he was jealous considering that Will Smith's career really took of after that show, and he said no, he had no reason to be bitter, he was happy with hosting game shows. Sure, that's totally up there with starring in all those big movies, no doubt.

GB said...

Remember in the mid-90s, when every comedian got their own sitcom, including of course Drew and Jeff? It appears game shows have become the new sitcom. Drew works because he makes it clear that he's not trying to be the next Bob Barker. He's not perfect, but I give him credit for trying to bring his own style to the show. Howie was a good host, but I could not stand "Deal or No Deal"; the 26 beautiful women could not make that insipid show tolerable. On second thought...

I gotta admit though, I do miss the days of polished veteran hosts like Wink, Chuck Woolery, or the late Dick Clark. They brought a little more warmth that's missing in today's shows. BTW, nice touch with the Sam Kinison reference! :-)

GRayR said...

I remember reading a while back that a young man who was a genius (IQ off the chart at 10-years old) when asked what he wanted to do with his life; he said "I want to be a Game Show Host".

I thought that was a bit strange, and then read about another 'very smart' scientist or researcher who was asked, "Had he grown up wanting to be a scientist". His answer was the same, "I wanted to be a Game Show Host".

And some of the smartest comedians I know also have gone this same route. Admittedly a lot of rather dumb ones too.

What is it about being a Game Show Host that draws smart people, and some not so smart into that field?

Interesting thoughts this beautiful Central Coast morning.
Thanks Ken.

Tom Quigley said...

In a recent ad I saw for THE PRICE IS RIGHT, it looks more and more like Drew Carey, with the darker hair and hornrimmed glasses (not to mention the more svelte figure) is trying to channel the show's original host when it aired on NBC back in the 1950's, Bill Cullen.

Liggie said...

Compared to constant touring, hecklers, and accusations about ripping off material, many comedians must think a steady gig like a game show or sitcom is very attractive. The only one who probably didn't was the late Bill Hicks, but he was a different cat.

Mike B. said...

GRayR:

I actually know the 10 year old (he's now a spry 25). Although he will likely never be a host, he's been a contestant on three shows and has done quite well for himself.

D. McEwan said...

What's good enough for Groucho is good enough for me.

Mike Schryver said...

I agree with Tom Quigley, Drew looks more like Bill Cullen every year. It brings a nice symmetry to the show, I think.

And Ken's spot on about the clothes the people in the audience wear. Don't they know they'll be on television? They look like they're going to a July flea market in a trailer park.

Ben Kubelsky said...

If Johnny Carson could do it for five years, there must be something right about hosting a game show.

Larry said...

I think Ghostbusters got it right. If you seem vaguely disreputable, you look like a game show host.

Tallulah Morehead said...

"Ben Kubelsky said...
If Johnny Carson could do it for five years, there must be something right about hosting a game show."


Jack Benny? I thought you were dead!

Johnny considered his game-show-hosting a step along his path, not the destination.

Jack Benny could never host a game show as he HATED giving away the prize money.

In the 1950s, I briefly hosted a game show called Blotto!, in which the contestants had to drink shots of whisky if they missed a question, so their ability to answer questions deteriorated as the game went on. The winner went head-to-head with me in the "White Lightening Round," where we eliminated the questions altogether, and we just traded shots. If I passed out before the contestant did, he or she got the big prize money. In 13 episodes, I never lost the White Lightening Round, but they had to take it off the air when I had my liver transplant.

GRayR said...

To Mike B.
Thanks for the information about that young man. I've always wondered about him. And I did not remember it was that long ago, I'm an old.
Thanks again Ken for your blog and thanks to all the rest who add so much.
Gary

Anonymous said...

I think Drew Carey is trying to channel Ken Levine. An admirable choice. :) I LOVED the Sam Kinnison rant. Hilarious! Julie

RCP said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RCP said...

I also thought the Kinnison rant was hilarious.

VP81955 said...

Mike Schryver said...

I agree with Tom Quigley, Drew looks more like Bill Cullen every year. It brings a nice symmetry to the show, I think.


We'll know it's complete when Drew begins making references to the Pirates (Cullen's team) instead of Drew's beloved Cleveland Indians.

Cap'n Bob said...

Howie Mandel funny? I never knew.

D. McEwan said...

It's news to me too, Cap'n Bob. That Howie is funny is, I think, some sort of urban myth, and in Mayberry, a rural myth.