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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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