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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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Holiday Extra Special

Make The Holidays ’80s Again

Enjoy the holiday cheer Wednesday December 21 at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection

Whatever happened to the kind of crazy-yet-cozy holiday specials that blanketed the early winter airwaves of the 1980s? Unceremoniously killed by infectious ’90s jadedness? Slow fade out at the hands of early-onset millennial ennui? Whatever the reason, nixing the tradition was a huge mistake.

A huge mistake that we’re about to fix.

Announcing IFC’s Joe’s Pub Presents: A Holiday Special, starring Tony Hale. It’s a celeb-studded extravaganza in the glorious tradition of yesteryear featuring Bridget Everett, Jo Firestone, Nick Thune, Jen Kirkman, house band The Dap-Kings, and many more. And it’s at Joe’s Pub, everyone’s favorite home away from home in the Big Apple.

The yuletide cheer explodes Wednesday December 21 at 10P. But if you were born after 1989 and have no idea what void this spectacular special is going to fill, sample from this vintage selection of holiday hits:

Andy Williams and The NBC Kids Search For Santa

The quintessential holiday special. Get snuggly and turn off your brain. You won’t need it.

A Muppet Family Christmas

The Fraggles. The Muppets. The Sesame Street gang. Fate. The Jim Henson multiverse merges in this warm and fuzzy Holiday gathering.

Julie Andrews: The Sound Of Christmas

To this day a foolproof antidote to holiday cynicism. It’s cheesy, but a good cheese. In this case an Alpine Gruyère.

Star Wars Holiday Special

Okay, busted. This one was released in 1978. Still totally ’80s though. And yes that’s Bea Arthur.

Pee Wee’s Playhouse Christmas Special

Pass the eggnog, and make sure it’s loaded. This special is everything you’d expect it to be and much, much more.

Joe’s Pub Presents: A Holiday Special premieres Wednesday December 21 at 10P on IFC.

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It Ain't Over Yet

A Guide to Coping with the End of Comedy Bang! Bang!

Watch the final episodes tonight at 11 and 11:30P on IFC.

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After five seasons and 110 halved-hour episodes, Scott Aukerman’s hipster comedy opus, Comedy Bang! Bang!, has come to an end. Fridays at 11 and 11:30P will never be the same. We know it can be hard for fans to adjust after the series finale of their favorite TV show. That’s why we’ve prepared this step-by-step guide to managing your grief.

Step One: Cry it out

It’s just natural. We’re sad too.
Scott crying GIF

Step Two: Read the CB!B! IMDB Trivia Page

The show is over and it feels like you’ve lost a friend. But how well did you really know this friend? Head over to Comedy Bang! Bang!’s IMDB page to find out some things you may not have known…like that it’s “based on a Civil War battle of the same name” or that “Reggie Watts was actually born with the name Theodore Leopold The Third.”

Step Three: Listen to the podcast

One fascinating piece of CB!B! trivia that you might not learn from IMDB is that there’s a podcast that shares the same name as the TV show. It’s even hosted by Scott Aukerman! It’s not exactly like watching the TV show on a Friday night, but that’s only because each episode is released Monday morning. If you close your eyes, the podcast is just like watching the show with your eyes closed!

Step Four: Watch brand new CB!B! clips?!

The best way to cope with the end of Comedy Bang! Bang! is to completely ignore that it’s over — because it’s not. In an unprecedented move, IFC is opening up the bonus CB!B! content vault. There are four brand new, never-before-seen sketches featuring Scott Aukerman, Kid Cudi, and “Weird Al” Yankovic ready for you to view on the IFC App. There’s also one right here, below this paragraph! Watch all four b-b-bonus clips and feel better.

Binge the entire final season, plus exclusive sketches, right now on the IFC app.

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Everybody Sweats Now

The Four-Day Sweatsgiving Weekend On IFC

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This long holiday weekend is your time to gobble gobble gobble and give heartfelt thanks—thanks for the comfort and forgiveness of sweatpants. Because when it comes right down to it, there’s nothing more wholesome and American than stuffing yourself stupid and spending endless hours in front of the TV in your softest of softests.

So get the sweats, grab the remote and join IFC for four perfect days of entertainment.

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It all starts with a 24-hour T-day marathon of Rocky Horror Picture Show, then continues Friday with an all-day binge of Stan Against Evil.

By Saturday, the couch will have molded to your shape. Which is good, because you’ll be nestled in for back-to-back Die Hard and Lethal Weapon.

Finally, come Sunday it’s time to put the sweat back in your sweatpants with The Shining, The Exorcist, The Chronicles of Riddick, Terminator 2, and Blade: Trinity. They totally count as cardio.

As if you need more convincing, here’s Martha Wash and the IFC&C Music Factory to hammer the point home.

The Sweatsgiving Weekend starts Thursday on IFC

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