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.


My thoughts about the current new season of The Price Is Right…

5 01 2012

A few months ago, CBS saw the debut of the 40th season of The Price Is Right, and Drew Carey’s 5th season as host. This also marks the first full season with George Gray as the full-time announcer of the show.

A couple of notable differences in the set this year. In addition to the “40th anniversary” markers between the doors on the stage, the video screen behind the audience is now much larger than it used to be. This thing is huge! There is also an LED lightbar that runs across the curtain behind the audience.

I’ve said in the past, on both Twitter and Facebook, that I like Drew Carey as the current TPIR host. He took over to start season #36, after the legendary Bob Barker helmed the show for the first 35 years. Some time ago, Drew lost a lot of weight – as I recall, he’d said he’d lost something like 80+ pounds! He’s now much thinner than before – he looks amazing! –  and he’s said he’s healthier now. In fact, he announced some time ago that he was told by his doctor that he no longer needs diabetes medication! Excellent news!

The good thing about what Carey has done since taking the helm of The Price Is Right is that, instead of trying to emulate Barker, he’s really made the show his own, and has put his own style into hosting it. Trying to emulate Barker would have done Bob and the show a major disservice. I believed that when Drew took over, and still believe it now. What Carey has done is breathe a new life into the show.

George Gray is the latest announcer for the show, taking over from Rich Fields, who left after season #38. It is well known (Rich mentioned it himself) that the producers of the show wanted to go a different direction for an announcer. After a trial of various voices that took much of last season, the producers chose Gray as TPIR’s new announcer.

Those who’ve followed TV over the years may know the name George Gray. For a year, he was the host of the American version of Junkyard Wars, and he was also the host of the half-hour version of The Weakest Link.

Although I liked him in those host roles, being a show announcer suits him. He does an excellent job in engaging the audience, and he works well on stage with Carey.

Will TPIR reach its 50th anniversary in 10 years? Hard to say. The game show nut in me hopes so. I’m not expecting the show to run another 25 or 35 years, but if both Carey and Gray stick around, I think The Price Is Right is in good hands for the future.