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Audience Game

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A segment sometimes used on game, talk, and variety shows, which gives members of the Studio Audience a chance to win a prize by playing a minigame on-stage. On game shows, they usually involve a shortened version of the Bonus Round or something related to the main game.

On game shows, they are usually used to pad out the end of a show if there wasn't enough time remaining in the episode to begin a new game (a scenario prevalent on shows with matches or contestant runs that straddled between episodes, such as Tic-Tac-Dough, and the syndicated Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? in later seasons). The resulting prizes tend to be small cash amounts or Consolation Prize-grade items, which is better than nothing but may not be as good as what the actual contestants were playing for. When played on non-game shows (particularly talk shows and variety shows), they are typically Played for Laughs (though some may play it straight like a normal game show), and may give all of their participants the same prize regardless of performance.

While a form of Audience Participation, this is in contrast to game shows that pick the contestants for the main game from the audience on a regular basis (e.g. Let's Make a Deal, The Price Is Right).


  • The Gene Wood Beat the Clock would sometimes let some audience members play a short stunt for money if there was time at the end.
  • The Better Sex actually used this as part of the bonus round, pitting the winning team against a thirty-member opposite-sex audience panel. Whatever audience members correctly agreed or disagreed to whatever answers were given for all six of the round's questions split a cash pot.
  • Caesar's Challenge: Unscramble five-letter words to earn chocolate coins and casino tokens.
  • Concentration: The 1970s syndicated version sometimes invited contestants onstage to try to decipher a "Double Play"-type rebus for $100. Like Match Game, usually only successful solves (usually one, no more than two) were kept.
    • Classic Concentration had the bonus round, but played for cash instead (ergo, matching cash amounts). The contestant won the sum of any cash amounts matched (or a total of $500 if they managed to clear the board). This was rarely seen, though.
  • The Joker's Wild had one in the 1980s; three audience members spun the reels for money, keeping what they won. The contestant with the largest amount got to play the Face the Devil bonus round.
    • There had been several variants dating to the 1970s, some of which used earlier variants of the endgame; the 1990s version used one too, though only to fill in time when the endgame ended early; three spins to match anything (prizes, trips, or cash amounts) on the Joker Machine for $100; failing that, you got a T-shirt.
  • Although Let's Make a Deal already picked contestants out of the audience to begin with, the end of the show is traditionally devoted to "quickie deals", where the host (and often the sidekicks on the Wayne Brady version) traverse the audience to offer small cash prizes to people if they present a certain item. On the Wayne Brady version, sometimes they may ask someone an observation question about something that happened during the episode, or which photo they had posted on the show's Instagram account (that, and the quickie deal items sometimes being announced on Twitter, often makes this segment double as an Enforced Plug for their social media pages.)
  • Match Game: An audience member was invited onstage to play a "Head-to-Head Match"-type question, usually either with Richard Dawson (on the CBS and early syndicated episodes), or later with Brett Somers, Charles Nelson Reilly or both. A correct guess won $50, and a wrong guess meant another player got to play. (Only games with correct matches  usually, just one were kept.) On some occasions, Rayburn would wander the audience looking for volunteers.
  • National Bingo Night subverted this by having the audience game directly impact the main player. The main player was on a Luck-Based Mission to fulfill a certain goal using drawn Bingo balls, while the audience actually played Bingo with the resulting numbers. If an audience member got a Bingo before the contestant met their goal, they lost the game.
    • Cruelly, if an audience member got a Bingo at the same time the contestant met their goal, the contestant still lost, making their happiness and celebration very short-lived. Worst of all? That exact scenario happened on the first game of the premiere!
  • Pak De Poen De Show Van 1 Miljoen called out a contestant for a bonus round. It was a quiz question for 25,000 BF (about US$8,337.50).
  • Tic-Tac-Dough: For a time in the early 1980s, a "Dragon Finder's Game" was played either after successful bonus rounds where the onstage contestant won (in which two audience members would be invited onstage to try to find the dragon from the remaining squares to win a cash prize of usually less than $500) or, if the game was played at the end of a Friday show where there wasn't enough time to start a new game, the two contestants would face a new bonus game board, with the first one to find the dragon winning.
  • Super Pay Cards!: Study eight playing cards on a board, and recall where one of them was to win an appliance (based on the bonus round). This was included only in Canadian airings for Loophole Abuse surrounding CanCon rules. (The show was taped in Montreal, but only The Announcer, who hosted the segment, was Canadian — That Other Wiki claims that a Canadian person had to actually be on-screen to count)
  • What's My Line?: Starting during the 1970/71 season of the syndicated version, four audience members were invited onstage to play a game called "Who's Who?" The celebrity panel, one at a time, tried to match up a list of four careers with the correct person. For each celebrity that was wrong, the foursome each won $20, with a top prize of $80 for a complete stumper (along with a couple of small prizes, usually a supply of Turtle Wax car care products and Amity leather products).
  • If there was time at the end of a show (which depended mainly on how quick the "search" round was won), Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego called audience members into the Chief's office to answer geographical questions for a T-shirt. A wrong response gave you an atlas instead.
  • Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?: As of the "shuffle" format on the U.S. version, an audience member plays a losing contestant's next question for $1,000 — winners get humorously dubbed a "Thousandaire". During a Disney Cruise week, the prize was an unclaimed vacation that could have been won in the main game. The consolation prize was previously the Home Game, but got changed in 2012 to 20 free games on the show's Facebook version.
    • On the 2014-15 season, they added a second audience game — a Fastest Finger-like "put these four answers in the correct order" question with four people from the audience using cards.
  • Most episodes of the Leno-hosted You Bet Your Life end with one audience member answering a single trivia question. Getting it right wins a small prize, getting it wrong wins nothing. Jay does everything in his power to steer the contestant to the right answer, so it's rare to see someone lose it.
  • Game Show Moments Gone Bananas was otherwise your run-of-the-mill "most outrageous moments"-type Clip Show, but it also had segments with Ben Stein hosting Beat the Clock and Family Feud minigames with audience members to win cheap grocery items.
  • Some talk shows also do these as segments;
    • Late Night with Jimmy Fallon often did game segments with audience members or the night's guests, typically with ridiculous premises for Rule of Funny — such as "Lick It for Ten" (lick a weird item and win $10), "Battle of the Instant [x]" (Fallon picks random teams from the audience and instructs them to quickly form a band or prepare a dance number), "Models and Buckets" ("the game that everyone is talking about", often resulting in contestants being Covered in Gunge), "Competitive Spit Takes", "Spanx but No Spanx", and "Put It On a Cracker" (while blindfolded, guess the three ingredients they put on a cracker). Some were outright Calvinball such as "Wheel of Carpet Samples", and "Wheel of Game Shows" (where all the games are either impossible to win or poorly explained), with joke prizes common in these cases (such as carpet samples, a Saturday Night Live board game with missing pieces, and Led Zeppelin T-shirts with a missing L).
    • The Ellen DeGeneres Show has also been well-known for its audience games, including trivia games (such as, most famously "Know or Go" — where you must answer the question correctly or get dropped through a trapdoor Russian Roulette style) and other physical games (with Ellen being frequently amused at the contestants' expense). One time, after featuring a viral video of a Japanese game show where contestants must pose themselves through a shaped cutout in an advancing wall, she staged her own version as an audience game (her Colbert Bump of said video also made the segment a de facto Backdoor Pilot for an official U.S. adaptation, Hole In The Wall). In 2017, these segments became the subject of a primetime Spin-Off series for NBC, Ellen's Game of Games.
    • Conan did a sketch called "Basic Cable Name That Tune", where an audience member had to identify the song that the band and homeless lounge singer Brian LaFontaine had just performed. However, because they're on basic cable and can't afford the rights to the original song, they perform a suspiciously similar version with lyrics blatantly parodying the original (such as "C-Section in America"). Conan also lampshades the similarities with Bid-a-Note-style clues, such as "If we were to play the real version of this stadium classic chant, Queen's lawyers would undoubtedly say, 'We will, we will, sue you'".