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UPDATED With Eyewitness Report!! TV FUNHOUSE’s Robert Smigel Utilizing Norm Macdonald & Sarah Silverman To Revive MATCH GAME??

I am – Hercules!!
Robert Smigel, the fellow behind Triumph The Insult Comic Dog and SNL’s “TV Funhouse” cartoons (and co-screenwriter with Judd Apatow and Adam Sandler of “You Don’t Mess With The Zohan”), has just shot a pilot for a TBS revival of the old “Match Game.” If that’s a strange match, note that Smigel’s pilot panel included some genuinely funny people, including fellow SNL vets Norm Macdonald and Sarah Silverman, and Bob Einstein (Albert Brooks’ brother, Steve Martin’s old writing partner and currently Marty Funkhauser on “Curb Your Enthusiasm”) in the guise of hapless daredevil Super Dave Osbourne. Rashida Jones, rumored to star in the coming “Office” spinoff, was also part of the mix. Macdonald was insanely funny on "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" and won $500,000 to boot. Read all of The Hollywood Reporter’s story on the matter here. UPDATE!! "The Refugee," who reviewed "U2 3D" for AICN a few months back, attended the pilot taping. His report:
Hey, Herc-- Big TV fan here, so I love your column. You do great work. Thanks for the weekly coverage of Doctor Who... that's fun to read after I've seen the latest episode. Okay, I had no idea you were going to do a story on the new Match Game, but since you have... let me tell you what it was like since I was there. Let me say up front that everyone who knows me knows I'm a *huge* fan of the original Match Game... so much so, that my friends and I did our own, live version last year at my apartment. We had a makeshift set, six "celebrities," an audience of almost 30 people (yeah, my apartment is that large) and I played Gene Rayburn, wearing a seersucker suit I found at a thrift store on Fairfax. I even collected all the most politically incorrect commercials from the 1970s I could find on YouTube, and burned them to DVD so we could have commercial breaks. And of course, my "celebrities" were encouraged to drink, especially the two who played Brett and Charles. This event has become legendary among my friends to the point that all the people *they* know are begging me to do it again. But you can't catch lightning in a bottle twice, so we'll see. That's the attitude the producers should have taken toward the new Match Game, which I attended last Thursday. They taped two episodes in the Bob Barker Studios at CBS Television City, the same studios in which they taped the original. They even used the early, orange-and-sparkly cream version of the set that was used on the original (complete with orange shag carpet!). And there was no dreadful "Star Wheel," which was added in the latter years of the show (which pissed off Richard Dawson and hastened his exit from the show). Even the original logo (which no longer has a year or "PM" attached to it) is being used. So far, so good, right? Um... not really. The new version can be described in one word: Awkward. I know that the Match Game has tried to be revived several times, with less and less success, and I've discussed why with my friends. We all have come to the conclusion that Match Game was a product of its time, and worked because of tight network censorship. It's really hilarious when the celebrities are forced to find substitute words for what you *know* they would want to write on the card. Yes, the original Match Game was also a classic because Gene Rayburn was the best game show host ever, and because of the hilarious rapport between Brett and Charles, and because Fannie Flagg, Patti Deutsch and Joyce Bulifant were some of the best celebrities to sit in the sixth and last seat because of their ability to add a brilliant zinger answer to the end of each round. But the show was funny because it was *slightly naughty*, not because it was raunchy. (It also was politically incorrect, which we'll never see again.) I don't envy the producers, as we live in a Jerry Springer culture where nothing is taboo anymore, shock humor is the standard, and celebrities like Britney Spears show off their _________ every time they step out of a limo. So, the "slightly naughty" approach just doesn't work in our culture anymore. At the same time, when the celebrities on Match Game can mention words like "pussy", "ass," and "cock" and can discuss the particulars of a woman's vagina and the joys of anal rape... it just really isn't all that funny anymore. It's just filthy. And for the celebrities involved, it's a bit classless and embarrassing. So... how were the celebrities and the game play? Host Andy Daly was surprisingly good. He has a really quick wit and seems really comfortable as a game-show host. Unfortunately, he didn't have much rapport with the celebrities, and it appeared that it was the first time they had ever worked together, so that was part of the awkwardness. Gene Rayburn was fearless, and it also helped that he already knew many of the celebrities socially outside the context of the show. (If I were running the new show, I would have taken everybody out for a night of bowling and drinking a couple of days before taping, to help everyone develop that rapport which is so vital to the series' success.) But perhaps that will improve with time. It was obvious that the producers are trying to turn Sarah Silverman and Scott Thompson into the new Brett and Charles. Forget it... they have no chemistry whatsoever. Actually, it was Sarah and Super Dave Osborne that riffed off of each other brilliantly, and it could be Super Dave that's the surprise breakout star from this show. He was consistently funny, and always had a great one-liner. Besides Sarah Silverman who seems comfortable in this element and was clearly enjoying herself, the other consistent bright spot was Niecy Nash. One question ran along the lines of "Charlie Sheen's friends are going to bring him something he's never seen at a bachelor party before... a _________" Her answer was "a great script." That brought the house down. Plus, she's upbeat and dressed cute for the show. Give her the sixth seat now--she's earned it. Scott Thompson was pretty tepid, which truly surprised me, but I do have to say that Norm MacDonald was absolutely dreadful. I mean, *really, really dreadful*. He seemed bored and listless the entire time, as if he was forced to be there, and his jokes were not only flat, but in one case, a 9/11 joke was so inappropriate (especially for a question about Tarzan and a gorilla), the audience booed loudly. Trust me, that one will be the first thing edited out. In fact, the more they can edit Norm out of the show, the better. He sucked the energy out of the room whenever it was his turn on camera. So, overall, I'm fortunate that I had the experience of going to the taping, but I'm not sure this version of the show will work. Even with a solid host and everything else the producers are doing to remind the audience of the original... the world has changed. And I can sit around with my friends and talk dirty if we want. We don't need to stay up late to see celebrities do it. And certainly not on Match Game where it's way more entertaining to be naughty, not filthy.

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TV Funhouse: The Complete Series!!

Readers Talkback
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  • June 20, 2008, 2:53 p.m. CST

    April 1st?

    by LordPorkington

    It fucking must be for this to be true...

  • June 20, 2008, 2:54 p.m. CST

    Wow CecilBenedict...

    by LordPorkington

    Repressing any emotions there at all? Anything you need to tell us? You'll feel better for it, just be brave and come out.

  • June 20, 2008, 2:57 p.m. CST

    And CecilBenedict...

    by LordPorkington

    I don't consider it beyond the realms of possibility, I just consider it almost too good to be true in terms of comedy value, assuming they all deliver the goods they're capable of.

  • June 20, 2008, 2:58 p.m. CST


    by LordPorkington

    I'll meet you behind the bus-shelter at 8. Bring the strap-on that sings 'Uncle Fucka' on a loop...

  • June 20, 2008, 3:06 p.m. CST

    Bring Rashida with you...

    by LordPorkington

    I'm still not fully converted to the 'back side' yet. She might spice things up. And has this turned into the LordPorkington and CecilBenedict Show or something? Where in the wide, wide world of sport is everyone? I bet the dirty bastards are waiting for us behind that bus-shelter...

  • June 20, 2008, 3:08 p.m. CST

    Mr Mcpoops! Just the person we need...

    by LordPorkington

    And despite your opinion of TV's Funhouse, you have to admit that Triumph the Insult Comic Dog is funny. Go on. Admit it! That character is purely Smigel with a rubber dog on his hand ripping the shit out of people. Sheer brilliance.

  • June 20, 2008, 3:10 p.m. CST

    chlorophil, more like borophil... right...right?

    by seabiscuits

    rob smigel is the best. so is norm macdonald.

  • June 20, 2008, 3:17 p.m. CST

    R.I.P. Gene Rayburn

    by CarmillaVonDoom

    Nobody will ever come CLOSE to his crazy-uncle vibe. Greatest game-show host of all time. Period.

  • June 20, 2008, 3:18 p.m. CST

    It'll be better than Blankety Blank...

    by LordPorkington

    With Lily Savage. Nobody can surpass the brilliance of Les Dawson on the UK version of Match Game though. And before anyone suggests Terry Wogan, you can fuck right off.

  • June 20, 2008, 3:19 p.m. CST

    the question is

    by Bloo

    can he keep up with the level of comedians, will we ACTUALLY see Sarah Silverman on MatchGame or was it just for the piolet<P>McDonald I can see doing Match Game, I'm not sure what else he is doing nowadays, but yeah<P>the other question is who will be the "Richard Dawson" of this new version of Match Game if they get it off the ground

  • June 20, 2008, 3:28 p.m. CST

    This would be my favorite show!

    by futureman3000

    Order 100 episodes TBS, Sarah Silverman, Norm Macdonald and Super Dave are 3 of the funniest people alive.

  • June 20, 2008, 3:32 p.m. CST

    This sounds AWESOME

    by hst666

    This could be REALLY FUNNY. This is also the first I learned that Super Dave was Al Brooks brother.

  • June 20, 2008, 3:38 p.m. CST

    Loved the original as well.

    by hst666

    I was between the ages of 5 and 8 I believe. However, I have caught a couple on the GSN and they were amusing. If Smigel can bring in some good comedy anchors (PLEASE NORM!!) then this could rock.

  • June 20, 2008, 3:50 p.m. CST

    Color me excited

    by Shut the Fuck up Donny

    I'm not a big Silverman fan, but the other names are very appealing to me. Plus, I used to watch Match Game religiously on GSN for years. The question is, who will be our token gay guy to replace the irreplacable Charles Nelson Riley? Bruce Villanch? Mario Cantone? Rip Taylor? This reintroduction of a classic will be made or broken on the quality of the regulars, and their chemistry. Nobody gives a "blank" about the game itself.

  • June 20, 2008, 3:53 p.m. CST

    I smell a Bruce Vilanch sighting in the near future.

    by Kurutteru Yatsu

    I don't know, without Gene, CNR and Brett Somers I just don't know if I can bring myself to watch. Unless Norm and Sarah will be around a lot, then yeah.

  • June 20, 2008, 3:58 p.m. CST


    by Quint

    I LLLLLLLLLLLLLLOOOOOOOVVVVVVEEEEEEE Match Game. How are they going to top Gene Rayburn in terms of sense of humor and kid-toucher-esque creepiness?

  • June 20, 2008, 4:02 p.m. CST

    that could work

    by jccalhoun

    if they have these people and the comedians that are the regulars on the Comedy Central roasts this could be fun. Put it on at 10pm and take advantage of being on cable to make it edgy.

  • June 20, 2008, 4:04 p.m. CST

    Dumb Dora

    by NinjaChampion

    this is fantastic news. I've wanted this show to come back for awhile now. I was thinking someone like Andy Richter would be a good host, but Smigel is good too.

  • June 20, 2008, 4:22 p.m. CST

    As long as Norm can answer every blank with

    by skimn


  • June 20, 2008, 4:30 p.m. CST


    by MR. MURDOCH

    I thought Lorne exiled Norm McDonald to like the third realm of Hades, never to be seen again...I haven't heard his name in years... I know he has (or had) his fans, but I personally couldn't stand him...

  • June 20, 2008, 4:33 p.m. CST

    Who will wear the Nelson Reilly Ascot?

    by m.dung

    This was a great show in the 70's. I think McDonald would make a better host. I can hear him now: Johnny always put butter on his _____. Baba ba ba ba ba ba ba.

  • June 20, 2008, 4:39 p.m. CST

    Can TBS follow Comedy Central's lead

    by skimn

    and air this at 1am like Secret Stash, and air it uncensored?? Then add in comics like Louis CK and Robert Schimmel and I'll be there.

  • June 20, 2008, 4:40 p.m. CST

    The thrill of Match Game in the '70s

    by skimn

    ...teehee..they said "boobies"..teehee

  • June 20, 2008, 4:50 p.m. CST

    Bob Einstein was also Super Dave Osbourne.

    by Rev. Slappy

    I would love to see him and his brother together in something again, love his bit in Modern Romance.

  • June 20, 2008, 4:50 p.m. CST

    They must get Scott Thompson from Kids in the Hall!

    by TotoroSan

    Just think about it. He could do the Buddy Cole act and be the perfect gay stereotype replacement for Charles Nelson Reilly.

  • June 20, 2008, 4:51 p.m. CST

    Dave Attel is doing (another) New Gong Show

    by Logo Lou

    for Comedy Central.

  • June 20, 2008, 4:53 p.m. CST

    I love this idea!!!

    by snowpuff

    But who's going to watch it? I guess it won't matter if it costs nothing to produce, which it won't.

  • June 20, 2008, 4:54 p.m. CST

    Fuck yeah...

    by wash

    ...on every single bullet point on this bitch.

  • June 20, 2008, 5 p.m. CST

    Jimmy Pardo...

    by rheimbro

    should be the host of this show, he does a great job hosting every month at the UCB in LA.

  • June 20, 2008, 5:12 p.m. CST


    by posbasso

    Sucks the worst. One of the worst comics on SNL. His voice worked for Death, but otherwise--HE SUCKS!!! Sarah Silverman isn't much better...

  • June 20, 2008, 5:47 p.m. CST

    Rev. Slappy...

    by LordPorkington

    Did you read the article? It states quite clearly that Bob Einstein is Super Dave Osbourne, but thanks for reconfirming that for us ya mook!

  • June 20, 2008, 5:47 p.m. CST

    Ressurect Patti Deutsch's career

    by Ingeld

    and Fannie Flagg while you are at it.

  • June 20, 2008, 5:59 p.m. CST

    Bob Einstein/Super Dave

    by skimn

    also played George Bluth Sr.'s "eyes and ears" on Arrested Development. Gotta sneak in an Arrested plug.

  • June 20, 2008, 6:25 p.m. CST

    You forgot that Bob 'Super Dave' Einstein is . .

    by Oski

    Also the surrogate on Arrested Development.

  • June 20, 2008, 6:55 p.m. CST

    I'll take Whoopie for the block.

    by fiester

    Sorry, wrong show.

  • June 20, 2008, 6:56 p.m. CST

    The best thing about the old Match Game

    by fiester

    Was how the whole panel of celebs were all smoking and drinking up a storm. If they keep that aspect of it, I'd watch.

  • June 20, 2008, 7:07 p.m. CST

    Totorosan, good call on Buddy Cole character

    by Shut the Fuck up Donny

    as I had forgotten that very amusing gay stereotype. However, as filthy as Scott can get with his Buddy character, they might just black out that whole part of the screen each episode!

  • June 20, 2008, 7:21 p.m. CST

    Blank A Doodle Doo!

    by RenoNevada2000

    I've been hooking my 11 year old step-daughter on the reruns on Game Show Network. This is so great!

  • June 20, 2008, 7:22 p.m. CST

    Blank Willow

    by RenoNevada2000

    I wrote it kind of sloppy gene, so I have a sloppy Pussy.

  • June 20, 2008, 8:06 p.m. CST

    norm won all that money, then blew it at the track

    by bacci40

    and sorry, no charles nelson match game....this will be like the hollywood squares redux

  • June 20, 2008, 8:08 p.m. CST

    video from Match Game '74

    by Sir Loin

    fiester is right, they were all loaded and that's what made it great! Here's a classic segment: I remember watching that after school in the afternoon! No WAY they'd allow that today.

  • June 20, 2008, 8:08 p.m. CST

    Now this is a great idea!!!

    by picardsucks

    Hope they don't script it and let them wing it like the original!!! Charles Nelson Riley was such a funny motherfer. I also hope they sit around drinking scotch on the rocks and chain smoking like the original. THis better be completely non PC with plenty of offcolor unappropriate jokes.

  • June 20, 2008, 8:15 p.m. CST

    i dont think you guys get what was great about the original

    by bacci40

    first, the game show itself (like groucho's you bet your life) was secondary to the comedy...but the reason the comedy worked was because the people on stage usually played straight....never what if sarah silverman uses double entendres...shes a dirty jewish whore who likes sucking italian what if norm is funny...thats his fucking get sean connery and maybe we have a deal...

  • June 20, 2008, 8:49 p.m. CST

    This should be hosted by...

    by mr_macphisto

    ...Dave Foley.

  • June 20, 2008, 9 p.m. CST

    SNL version, anyone?

    by theBigE

    It was the one thing that made me laugh on the episode when Shia Lebouf hosted this spring! Shia's Doug Henning-type magician was hilarious. The cast was being questioned about the murdered host. Did anyone else see that and laugh like I did? <p> Oh, and this sounds great. I couldn't tell in the article who was hosting, however.

  • June 20, 2008, 10:39 p.m. CST


    by jackofhearts29

    rising... falling... falling... rising... falling... falling... gone... blissful neutrality

  • June 20, 2008, 10:53 p.m. CST

    Smigel's voice = Gene Rayburn

    by Merkin Muffley

    He sounds just like him!

  • June 21, 2008, 12:18 a.m. CST

    Norm Macdonald

    by ChetPussy

    I really believe norm macdonald is one of the funniest people on the planet. His bits on Conan might be the funniest late night moments in history especially his quip about courtney thorn smith's movie with carrot top and his larry flint impression. Check them out on youtube. Even his recent appearence on the daily show riffing on the crocodile hunter was pure gold. Its really too bad he isn;t more popular

  • June 21, 2008, 5:01 a.m. CST

    Fireproof...dont diss on the animation

    by bacci40

    my friend does it, and he works damn hard...and i like his stuff...dont make me show you the back of my pimp hand...smigel writes the scripts

  • June 21, 2008, 7:58 a.m. CST


    by haggardatbest

    That sketch was seriously one of the only funny ones all year. Armisen's character had me laughing just by looking at his face. Adding the Paul Lynde voice and shaking we he laughed had me howling.

  • elevates it a bit. That's a great concept, *celebrity characters* rather than the actors who play them appearing as guest hosts. What I wouldn't give to see "and also, from San Diego's Channel 4 News team, weatherman Brick Tamland"

  • June 21, 2008, 3:55 p.m. CST

    Aren't the Dean Martin roasts the knock offs?

    by INWOsuxRED

    The pussified version of the Friar's Club roasts, made for the early days of network TV?

  • June 21, 2008, 3:59 p.m. CST

    I hope they leave in all 9/11 jokes

    by INWOsuxRED

    The fact that the audience booed just makes me want to see it even more.

  • June 21, 2008, 5:18 p.m. CST

    Norm McDonald was funny?

    by ironburl

    When? Somebody link me to a youtube clip, because I've seen his sour, grumpy, puss on TV hundreds of times and I've only ever felt like pushing him down a flight of stairs. If you can't find a clip, let me kn ow the name of a movie, skit, or even a funny line he ever had. I can TOTALLY see the reviewer's claim that he sucked the energy from the room. He is like a fun leech.

  • June 21, 2008, 9:37 p.m. CST

    by Chest_Rockwell

    I've always thought Match Game would be the prime game show to update. You can say soooooooooo much more on tv than you could in the 70's. Plus, you also have the entire "tech" vocabulary that wasn't even in existence.

  • June 21, 2008, 9:40 p.m. CST


    by Series7

    Amazing movie if you missed it you suck. Not amazing because of U2 but because of the 3D part.

  • June 21, 2008, 10:06 p.m. CST

    ah, it's now confirmed

    by necgray

    Well, now that I read your post in this TB, Fireproof, it's evident to me that you're a Disney corporate shill. You've been arguing with me about the Muppets because I badmouthed Disney, so you decided that I was the enemy. So what, did YOU do the Disney internship and make a wot of weawwy cwose fwiends and you don't wike it when peowe awe mean to ol' Walty and his company? Tell you what, instead of getting uptight about anti-Disney sentiment, go rub up against your stuffed Mickey doll.

  • June 22, 2008, 10:51 a.m. CST


    by jmyoung666

    Did you lose your sense of humor?

  • June 22, 2008, 11:48 a.m. CST


    by theBigE

    Glad someone else enjoyed that sketch too! <p> I agree with the reviewer - keep it naughty, not filthy. That was part of the charm!

  • June 22, 2008, 12:06 p.m. CST

    with those guests and that producer...

    by necgray

    I'm wondering if this isn't some bizarre hipster meta-joke on Smigel's part. Mocking the "ooh, aren't we naughty?" aspect of the original Match Game by having genuinely dirty comedians...

  • June 22, 2008, 12:27 p.m. CST

    I'd like to see it given a shot, so we could see for ourselves

    by 2for2true

    Loved the show growing up - always thought is was a shame that it didn't keep going a la the Price is Right. The cast sounds great, but evidently Norm MacDonald is someone you either love or hate. I thought he was great on My Name is Earl, doing his great Burt Reynolds imitation.

  • June 22, 2008, 12:30 p.m. CST


    by 2for2true

    Starting June 24th, Rescue Me returns, kind of....with 6-7 minute original episodes at 10:00pm EDT. You're welcome.

  • June 22, 2008, 6:34 p.m. CST

    Yes, a shill

    by necgray

    You didn't start giving me shit on my Muppet posts until I blamed Disney for what I saw as a lack of understanding of the characters. Then suddenly you decided to take shots at me and the Muppets. You're still calling it an "unwise" investment. If you aren't a Disney shill, why do you care how "wise" or "unwise" their investments are? And who but a Disney shill calls Walt Disney "Uncle W"? And what in the blue hell are you talking about re: earning street cred by bashing Disney??? I actually agree with you that bashing Walt is a yawn, but because it's too easy, not "old". Seriously, name me one "wanna-be-in-yo-face artiste" that earned "street cred" bashing Walt Disney? Yeah, I didn't like the Venture Brothers until the Brisbee episode. They weren't "hip" until they made fun of Disney...

  • June 22, 2008, 7:43 p.m. CST

    I don't think shill is the right word

    by INWOsuxRED

    although I wouldn't doubt he owns a denim jacket covered with disney character patches that he wears everywhere.

  • June 22, 2008, 11:07 p.m. CST

    Muppets Wizard of Oz: ABC

    by necgray

    "Nothing to do with"? And since you love to not clarify what exactly you mean by "pitiful failures", how about this time you do? Or is it easier to make your point with groundless hyperbole? And as long as we're talking shelf-life of a mocking point, let's discuss this "threadbare" word you seem to love. Since the puppets themselves get rebuilt, refurbished, or recreated every couple of years. Or do you mean threadbare as in nobody cares? Because I believe we've been over that territory and the fact that Muppet projects keep coming up and the fact that Disney bought them for multi-millions should really prove you wrong by this point. Honestly, how "threadbare" is Mickey freaking Mouse? In any case, I'm sure you'll have some snarky, stupid reply to this. As much as you give me a headache, I think I'll let it go now.

  • June 23, 2008, 7:07 p.m. CST

    The Match Game has been brought back before!

    by RicardoMontalban

    What's happened to originality in Hollywood? The original "Match Game" worked because of the unique chemistry between host Gene Rayburn and a few of the regulars like Charles Nelson Reilly, Bret Sommers and Richard Dawson. You can't duplicate that. The game itself is kind of lame. Several versions of the game came back over the years and failed for that reason. Hey movie fans check out this great new blog... it's called: