Category Archives: Comedy

Get Ready to Match the Stars!

February is my least favorite month for writing a blog post, because it’s the shortest—month, not post. I know what I want to write about: a current obsession. The current obsession: the 1970s version of the TV program Match Game. But what angle should I take? If you write without a point, that’s journaling, and I hate journaling. Apparently, however, I’m a fan of stream-of-consciousness blogging.

What I’d really like to know is why watching grainy YouTube videos of this forty-year-old comedy/game show makes me so happy. (I launched a similar inquiry into Christmas music several winters ago, and again the following holiday season.) I won’t belabor the precise format of Match Game, but contestants try to anticipate answers given by celebrities to fill-in-the-blank-style questions. Originally, in the 1960s, the questions were straightforward: “Name something you pour gravy on.” They evolved to be more suggestive: “Mary likes to pour gravy on John’s _____.” (The shift was a ratings boon.)

Why do I love 1970s Match Game?

a. The campy host, Gene Rayburn

b. The big-name panelists, including regulars Richard Dawson, Charles Nelson Reilly, and Betty White

c. The irreverent, off-the-cuff humor

d. The party atmosphere

e. All of the above

But “all of the above,” in this case, isn’t everything. If it was, I would have the same warm fuzzies for the latest incarnation of the show, hosted by a quick-witted Alec Baldwin and frequented by funny people such as Jason Alexander, Cheryl Hines, Tim Meadows, Jane Krakowski, and Jenna Fischer.

What does 1978 Match Game have that 2018 Match Game lacks? Charm, I think.

What makes 1970s Match Game charming?

a. The retro (then au courant) hair and clothing styles

b. The need to tailor answers to get past the censors

c. The lack of political correctness

d. The low-tech set (relative to today’s standards)

e. All of the above

I (barely) remember watching Match Game as a kid; I’m sure I didn’t understand much of the banter. My clearest recollection is of the audience saying, for example, “How dumb is she?” in response to a question that started, “Dumb Dora is so dumb . . . .” Seeing the show now gives me self-perspective: “I was six, or eight, when this was filmed. The dated references reflect the world in which I grew up, and of which I was just beginning to become aware. I am a product of this time.”

At the very least, I think my heavy exposure to Match Game’s ad-libbed comedy has improved my cartoon captions!

A Thanksgiving Roast

Have you ever seen a roast on Comedy Central? The “roasted” individual typically sits in a throne-like chair on a raised platform, as comedians take turns making fun of him (and of Turkey on a throneeach other) in front of a live audience. The guest of honor then has the opportunity to rebut the merciless put-downs that have been hurled at him throughout the event.

In honor of Thanksgiving, I thought it might be fun to put the holiday itself on the dais. Over the years, comedians have certainly viewed Turkey Day as fair game, and the Internet is a veritable cornucopia of their insults. So, if you will, please imagine a plump turkey (possibly wearing a Pilgrim hat and holding an “Eat Chicken” sign) on a stage, gobbling graciously as it is lambasted.

  • Johnny Carson: “Thanksgiving is an emotional holiday. People travel thousands of miles to be with people they only see once a year. And then discover once a year is way too often.”
  • David Letterman: “Thanksgiving is the day when you turn to another family member and say, ‘How long has Mom been drinking like this?’ My mom, after six Bloody Marys, looks at the turkey and goes, ‘Here, kitty, kitty.’”
  • Jay Leno: “Thanksgiving: when the Indians said, ‘Well, this has been fun, but we know you have a long voyage back to England.’”
  • Jon Stewart: “I celebrated Thanksgiving in an old-fashioned way. I invited everyone in my neighborhood to my house, we had an enormous feast, and then I killed them and took their land.”
  • Dylan Brody: “You know that just before that first Thanksgiving dinner there was one wise, old Native American woman saying, ‘Don’t feed them. If you feed them, they’ll never leave.’”
  • Roseanne Barr: “Here I am 5 o’clock in the morning stuffing breadcrumbs up a dead bird’s butt.”
  • Kevin James: “Thanksgiving, man. Not a good day to be my pants.”

Unlike the ordinary “roastee,” a holiday cannot defend itself. Yet many eloquent individuals have, in effect, told the aforementioned comics to shut their pie holes:

  • H. U. Westermayer: “The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts.  No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving.”
  • Robert C. Linter: “Thanksgiving was never meant to be shut up in a single day.”
  • Edward Sandford Martin: “Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow.”
  • Wilbur D. Nesbit: “Forever on Thanksgiving Day / The heart will find the pathway home.”

Stick a fork in me, I’m done.