DID YOU READ

10 weird old game shows

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When the mood strikes, there’s little that’s more amusing than watching some weird, old game shows. They were crucial in the early days of television, and things were very different back then. These days, the line between game shows and “reality” television is very much blurred, as evidenced by Jackass star Steve-O’s current crazy show “Killer Karaoke,” where people have to sing songs while being attacked by dogs and snakes and other such tribulations. Stuff like that is edgy on purpose, but there is a long history of building a competition around anything and seeing if it sticks, and that makes for some accidental oddness. In other cases, it’s just letting drunk celebrities screw around a lot and constantly fling double entendres, which makes for its own sort of strangeness. Then there are just some things you can’t believe ever happened at all. So let’s take a look at some weird, old game shows – and in the interest of fairness, we’re going to leave out all those brain-breaking Japanese torture contests this time around.


1. “Queen for a Day”

This is one of the earliest ones, having originated as a radio show in 1945, and came to TV in 1956 for an 8-year run. Why is it weird? Because it’s kind of morbid. Essentially, a bevy of contestants had to compete for prizes, and the winner was the one with the worst life. True, it’s kind of a nice karmic thing to award washing machines to people with crap luck, but it’s also essentially nationally-televised rubbernecking.


2. “You Bet Your Life”

This one is odd because there was barely a game involved at all. There was the occasional quizzing of contestants and some secret word skullduggery, but it was really just an excuse for the legendary Groucho Marx to amusingly chat people up – and you really don’t need much more than that for some solid entertainment. (In a similar vein, “Who Do You Trust?” gave a young Johnny Carson the same sort of leeway, as he spent more time interviewing the competing couples than he did actually playing the game.) Game shows often featured celebrities pre-fame, and here you can see Groucho bouncing off of sci-fi author Ray Bradbury.


3. “Front Page Challenge”

Did you ever in your life think that you’d ever see Malcolm X on a game show? Neither did I, but this classic Canadian program managed the feat only a few months before his tragic assassination. To be fair, this was a much newsier sort of show, with notable journalists asking questions of a newsmaker they couldn’t see to try and identify what current events they were involved in. After the game portion, it became essentially an episode of “Meet The Press.”


4. “Let’s Make a Deal”

Here’s a show that began quite normally with host Monty Hall daring contestants to trade away things they already won for the chance at something better or some kind of “zonk.” However, it got weird because the audience glommed onto the notion that said contestants were selected on Monty’s whim, and thus started dressing up in crazier and crazier costumes in the hopes of getting chosen. You’ll see that madness on display in this clip. Note the guy in the stork outfit.


5. “The Match Game”

Just because it’s not obscure doesn’t mean it ain’t weird. One of the most popular game shows of its day started out stiff, but once the ‘70s hit, it was just an excuse for a pack of random pseudo-celebrities to get bawdy and drunk. They had to be drunk, right? Brett Somers, Charles Nelson Reilly, Richard Dawson, Nipsey Russell, Rip Taylor, Dick Martin, Betty White, Marcia Wallace, Fannie Flagg and lecherous host Gene Rayburn and his super-skinny microphone had an often-raucous time filling in the blanks with wacky double entendres about old men who *blank* ten times a day, or how Johnny put butter on his *blank.* That is, when they bothered to actually play the game.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.

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Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.

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Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.

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Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!

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Inter-not

Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.

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Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.

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If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.