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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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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