Notes about game show hosts…

9 05 2012

Some time ago, in this blog, I wrote about the current version of The Price Is Right, and how I like the current host and announcer: Drew Carey and George Gray, respectively.

A friend of mine and I recently chatted about game shows, and we agreed that, in general, the better hosts of recent game shows are, or have been at one time, stand-up comics. This is true of The Price Is Right, as both Carey and Gray spent time on the stand-up circuit.

The reason, to me, that comics make good hosts and announcers is because they know how to engage the audience, and get them interested in the game.

There are some hosts who fit that category for me. One is Bill Engvall, who had spent six years as part of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour, and is the host of the currently-running season of Lingo. He’s very good at talking with the players and keeping them interested on the game.

A couple of others come to mind, and though they were never on the stand-up circuit, they do have backgrounds in comedy acting, and that has helped them engage the contestants and audience. I’m referring to former Family Feud hosts Richard Karn of Home Improvement fame, and John O’Hurley, who is best known for the repeating role he had on Seinfeld, and also his appearance on Dancing with the Stars. Both Karn’s and O’Hurley’s versions of Family Feud are currently airing on GSN, and they are fun to watch.

On the other side of the coin, the first host of the latest version of Family Feud, Louie Anderson, and the new current host of the show, Steve Harvey, just don’t work for me. With Anderson, I never liked him much, so it’s not surprising that I didn’t like him on FF, but I was a bit surprised that I do not like Harvey’s work that much. Harvey was a stand -up comedian at one point, and has been in comedy for years after that, but I don’t like seeing him as FF host.

I did like the previous versions of FF, such as the Ray Combs version that ran in the late 80s/early 90s. Again, Combs had a background of stage comedy, which helped him to work with the players and the audience.

But to me, the original host of Family Feud continues to be my favourite. Richard Dawson, like all the other FF hosts, has a comedy background. A regular in the 1960s series Hogan’s Heroes, he spent the early 70s being a regular in comedy classics Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, and The Dick Van Dyke Show. Dawson was also a regular panelist in the early years of Match Game before being given his own show: Family Feud. Now, Richard knew how to engage the players and the audience, and the way he controlled the flow of the show helped make Family Feud one of the all-time game show favourites.