"Hi gang! Pop Quiz here! We ask several historical questions to our players, then act flabbergasted at their overwhelming ignorance!"
— Father Time
as this Trope on a game show sketch, Histeria!
The visible front end of any Game Show
. This is the person who moderates the show and actually runs the game; s/he also enforces the rules (though s/he usually has to defer to off-screen officials for any close judgment calls), engages in small talk with the guests, and keeps the mood light and fun.
Game Show Hosts are popular butts of jokes
in fiction. This may have something to do with their need to maintain a jovial atmosphere as previously stated, even when contestants are losing, which might make them seem aloof; or maybe they just come across as slimy and slick, like common depictions of a used car salesman
. For whatever reason, fictional game show hosts are often presented as smarmy, obnoxious, untrustworthy opportunists who seem to revel in the misfortune of contestants (a Dead Unicorn Trope
of course). Also, since quiz show hosts know, by necessity, the answer to each question (at least in theory: there are some game shows, like Family Feud
, that don't list the answers on the card), they tend to come off as condescending — perhaps unintentionally, but nonetheless. They also tend to be almost exclusively male
; women on a game show's staff are more likely to be Lovely Assistants
Despite their reputation, some hosts become legendary if they have a specific gimmick to them, or they end up coming off as sincerely wanting a contestant to win big. Since, in most instances, it's not HIS money they're giving away, the host is more or less rooting for the contestant, even if it's only in the back of his mind. To some hardcore game show fanatics, the skills of the hosts (and the sincerity of him) can make or break a show's success, and they seem to be right: some of the more successful game shows are known in part for how the host carried the show along.
There has been a recent (not new) trend, at least for high-profile American programs, to cast has-been D-listers and comedians as Game Show Hosts.
Notable Game Show Hosts include:
- Bill Cullen, the original host of The Price Is Right, Blockbusters, and many other shows.
- Bob Barker of Truth or Consequences and The Price Is Right, probably the most famous game show host in history.
- A close second might be Alex Trebek of Jeopardy!, High Rollers, Classic Concentration, and Double Dare (1976)
- Bruce Forsyth, the British host who gives a new meaning to the term "Brucie Bonus".
- Gene Rayburn of Match Game.
- Ross Shafer and Michael Burger of both 1990s revivals.
- Richard Dawson, from the original Family Feud.
- Also the late Ray Combs from the 1980s revival of same.
- Not to mention Louie Anderson, Richard Karn, John O'Hurley, Al Roker, and Steve Harvey.
- Chuck Woolery, original host of Wheel of Fortune and Love Connection; also Scrabble, The Dating Game and Lingo.
- Pat Sajak of Wheel of Fortune.
- Monty Hall of Let's Make a Deal.
- Wink Martindale of Tic-Tac-Dough.
- Bob Eubanks of The Newlywed Game and the 1980s version of Card Sharks.
- Bert Convy of Tattletales and Super Password.
- Peter Tomarken of Press Your Luck.
- Todd Newton of its revival, Whammy, and Hollywood Showdown.
- Peter Marshall, original host of The Hollywood Squares.
- Also John Davidson, Jon "Bowzer" Bauman, and Tom Bergeron for the various revivals.
- Regis Philbin of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? (the American version) and Million-Dollar Password.
- Drew Carey of The Price Is Right, Power of Ten, and Whose Line Is It Anyway?.
- Anne Robinson of The Weakest Link became so popular in Britain that she migrated to the United States to host the Americanized version.
- The syndicated version would be hosted by George Gray. Yes, the same guy who is now The Announcer on The Price Is Right.
- Brit host Chris Tarrant has hosted at least 16 different game shows, but is most associated with Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?.
- Speechwriter/actor Ben Stein of Win Ben Stein's Money.
- The Buzz! series of party video games features Jason Donovan as a stereotypical Game Show Host.
- The various sarcastic voice-over hosts of the You Don't Know Jack series, most notably Cookie.
- The short-lived live-action game show version on ABC featured Paul Reubens as Troy Stevens, a parody of a normal Game Show Host.
- Marc Summers of Nickelodeon's Double Dare. Ironic, in that Summers has obsessive-compulsive disorder, yet hosted a show that reveled in getting everyone messy.
- Dick Clark of the various Pyramid shows and Scattergories.
- Jim Lange of The Dating Game, Bullseye US, and Name That Tune.
- Tom Kennedy of You Don't Say!, Split Second, Name That Tune, and Body Language.
- His brother, Jack Narz, of Now You See It and the syndicated Concentration.
- Howie Mandel on Deal or No Deal.
- Lynne Thigpen on Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? and its successor series, Where in Time Is Carmen Sandiego?, though she wasn't the quizmaster.
- Jack Barry on Twenty One and The Joker's Wild.
- Allen Ludden on General Electric College Bowl and Password.
- Jeff Probst of Rock & Roll Jeopardy! and Survivor.
- Joe Rogan of Fear Factor.
- Some traditional game show fans can get a little testy if you call the latter two (or similar programs) game shows.
- John Daly of What's My Line?.
- Geoff Edwards of (The New) Treasure Hunt and Starcade.
- Art James of The Who, What or Where Game, Blank Check, The Magnificent Marble Machine, and Pay Cards!
- Jim Perry of the 1978-81 iteration of Card Sharks and 1983-89 American Sale Of The Century.
- Phil Keoghan of The Amazing Race.
- Silvio Santos, founder and owner of SBT and a Long Runner. He's basically a Brazilian Cullen who resembles Dennis James with the ageless appearance/voice formerly held by Dick Clark and the bonus of a unique microphone style from at least 1974. You name it, he's probably been involved with it, ever since about 1961...and this montage shows just 40 of them.
- Bill Rafferty of the late-1980s editions of Card Sharks and Blockbusters.
- Jordi Hurtado and Juanjo Cardenal (who also doubles as The Announcer) have become incredibly popular in Spain after 15 years in Saber y Ganar.
- Groucho Marx for You Bet Your Life.
Fictional Game Show Hosts:
- Guy Smiley, a Muppet performed by Jim Henson on Sesame Street.
- Damon Killian, host of The Running Man in the 1987 film, played by Richard Dawson! (In the original Stephen King book, his name is Dan Killian and he's the producer rather than the host. In the movie, he's the show's host and creator.)
- Mike Terry, host and play-by-play announcer of The Prize of Peril in the short story of the same name by Robert Sheckley (written in 1958).
- Mr. Wink, the host of the Japanese game show in The Simpsons episode "Thirty Minutes over Tokyo", voiced by George Takei.
- In one episode of Red Dwarf, an American game show host named "Bing Baxter" supplies the voice for Lister's Confidence-made-flesh. Which show Mr. Baxter hosted is never revealed.
- The webcomic Pibgorn features a demon who takes the name and appearance of a game show host named Tom Torquemada.
- Chip Ramsey, the Hollywood Cyborg host of Lexi-Cross.
- The unnamed host of Smash TV who is also the Big Bad, since he is the last boss you battle.
- The Mario series has a few of these, including Chuck Quizmo in Paper Mario and Game Guy in Mario Party 3.
- Gruntilda plays the part of one in the game show–like sections of Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie, respectively Grunty's Furnace Fun and the Tower of Tragedy.
- In the opening scene of Once Upon a Mattress, the Wizard tests Princess No. 12 in quiz show fashion.
- The many hosts of the You Don't Know Jack games, including fan favorite Cookie Masterson.
- In Shrek, the magic mirror presents Lord Farquaad with his potential princess mates using the format of The Dating Game.