Two of the most important characteristics the Bureau considered when selecting its staff were: “Willingness to make an ass of oneself in a public arena,” and “susceptibility to hare-brained get-rich-quick schemes.” For a publication with little editorial supervision and a salary of “maybe we’ll put up some ads someday,” we knew that our writers couldn’t succeed without these traits. To mask our unethical hiring practices, we concocted a question that would reveal our applicant’s sensibilities in these areas without asking them explicitly, which our legal team (“Drunk Pete”) informed us was inadvisable.
The question was, “On which game show would you most like to be a contestant,” and the responses are reprinted below. The editors’ responses are included due to the fact that they were at the tail end of a four-day “coffee marathon” at the time, and forgot that they didn’t need to apply to their own site.
The correct answer to this question is obviously Family Feud. The real question is: which host do you want? The current host, who played J. Peterman on Seinfeld, is out for obvious reasons. The previous host, Richard Karn of Home Improvement “fame,” is also disqualified, due to beard-related issues. This still leaves three excellent choices: the chronic sexual harasser, Richard Dawson, the Prozac addict, Ray Combs (who later killed himself), or Louie Anderson, who needs no introduction. Combs might be interesting because of his 4’ 6″ stature and for the fact that you could see the repressed despair of a broken man in his eyes, but he’s probably the least fun of the bunch. Louie Anderson would be… oh, just look at him:
I mean, tempting. But the real winning choice is Dawson, who in addition to groping each contestant backstage was also a rage-filled narcissist. To get the most out of my experience on Feud, I would need to make a few tweaks. The most important step would be to abandon my real family in favor of a troop of hot chicks. I’m thinking Pussycat Dolls. Now, this substitution is not solely for personal benefit. See, Dawson could barely control his wandering hands in the presence of fifty year-old housewives from Kansas. Given a line-up genuine gussied-up skanks, Dawson’s will would surely break, and he’d hurl his skinny microphone at his producer before molesting the closest Doll in sight. This is television history we’re talking about here, and I want to be part of it.
Plus, I have my finger on the pulse of the American public consciousness. Check it out: “Which fruit or vegetable is most likely to lead to a visit to the proctologist?”
Survey says! Potato.
I have a couple candidates, both of which are inspired from my childhood in front of the tube.
A few of my friends are convinced that Nickelodeon’s GUTS was the coolest thing since the ‘90s reintroduction of Creepy Crawlers, but I have always been more partial to the lesser-known Legends of the Hidden Temple. At the beginning of the show, there are six two-person teams, and after several rounds of elimination, the final pair is allowed to take on the Temple Run. The temple itself was a cutaway facsimile of a Mayan temple, with a series of booby-trapped rooms and dead ends. (I forget what the contestants were looking for in the temple—I think magical pendants or some shit like that.)
If nothing else, I’m always tempted to buy a Hidden Temple t-shirt. (Note: The Bygone Bureau is in no way associated with Bygone Shirts, although I must commend them on their excellent site name.)
My other childhood game show was Where in the World is Carmen San Diego? I learned less about geography, and more about how little people knew about geography. During the show’s final stage, ominously called The Map, contestants were given a list of a dozen countries to locate on a giant floor world map. Planting these odd sirens correctly would somehow enable you to capture Carmen San Diego. If the contestant was successful (which rarely happened), the grand prize was a free trip to any place in the country. I find this free flight unbearably cheap, considering that the show wasn’t called Where in the Continental United States is Carmen San Diego? But judging from the geographic know-how of the contestants, complimentary international travel would probably land them in Sudan instead of Japan.
Oh, and speaking of Japan, I can’t deny an attempt at the four-stage obstacle course of Sasuke, or as it’s been renamed in America, Ultimate Ninja Warrior. (For the record, the show has absolutely nothing to do with ninjas—unless you assume that all athletic Japanese people are ninjas, which seems fair.) After a few drinks, I usually convince myself that the obstacles are easier than they look, despite the fact that only two individuals have ever climbed to the top of Mount Midoriyama. While there is almost no chance that I could ever succeed, the title of ‘Ultimate Ninja Warrior’ would look impressive on my résumé though.
I hate watching game shows. I’m also sure I wouldn’t like to be on one. I can’t stand being embarrassed, and I don’t want to hug or kiss any smarmy host. Even with those conditions considered, there are three game shows I wouldn’t mind trying. Two of them are no longer on air.
Wheel of Fortune: I never got how the buying of letters worked, but I’ve always wanted to spin that wheel and applaud as it went around.
Classic Concentration: It would be a lot easier than Jeopardy! and I’d still get to meet Alex Trebek.
Scrabble: The television adaptation sounded quite different from the board game, but I think I could hold my own. I once memorized all the two-letter legal word combinations and made a start on the threes. I went through a phase in high school.
Before Bob Barker retired (died?), he was the archetypical sleazy game show host of The Price is Right. He was a true progressive; he was a complete letch to every single woman that appeared on the show, regardless of race, creed or color. And the show itself; what magnificent genius! An hour-long advertisement, bookended by advertisements, and marketed to the section of the population with the most disposable time and income: the pensioned elderly. We can thank The Price is Right for the proliferation of RV’s that today grace America’s highways. I only wish I could travel back in time to Bob Barker’s 1970′s heyday and win second-rate home furnishings advertised by network TV’s Hugh Hefner. My only worry would be that I wasn’t strong enough to spin that giant wheel. How did all those old ladies spin that giant thing? The show even flew in the face of the laws of physics.
I’ll admit that I cheated when I applied to write for the Bureau. I felt that devoting my time to Amy Tan novels was far more important than filling out an application, so I had my game show-loving grandmother, Georgia Barber, write it for me. Here’s what she wrote:
“What gameshow would I like to be on? I’ll tell you one thing about game shows: I’m not watching The Price is Right ever again. Not once in this lifetime am I ever again watching it. I might even avoid that channel entirely, except during the daytime because The Young and the Restless is on. Did you know that it’s the highest rated daytime drama on television? But really, since Bob Barker retired that sloppy excuse for a man–Drew Carey–has been calling the shots. I usually don’t like anyone with two first names, Laurie Ann two doors down also has two first names and I don’t like it one bit. Her house usually smells of cat urine. It makes me sick, it really does. I can’t imagine seeing Drew Carey’s fat body lollygagging over the stage like some sea lion stuck out of water. But that Bob, he was somethin’ else. What’s the world coming to? Is Drew Carey sexy? I’ll tell you one thing: not to me. I might be 87, but I still know what turns me on. And it’s not Drew Carey.”