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Smarmy Host

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A related trope to Kent Brockman News (or Immoral Journalist) and Hates the Job, Loves the Limelight, this is the Game Show Host or sports announcer counterpart. You know the type: preening, narcissistic, slicked hair and an equally slick personality. He can flash a gleaming smile for the camera, but it's a Smug Smile lacking warmth. He will crack lots of jokes and engage in Witty Banter, but you always suspect he's really an insufferable Jerkass, and you're often proved correct in that assumption.

When used in an actual broadcast, this tends to go best when said host is schooled enough in Self-Deprecation to realize that he comes off as this, and uses it to make more jokes, in which case he's often a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.

Has quite a lot in common with, but is usually more influential than, the Lounge Lizard.

Often goes hand in hand with Delusions of Local Grandeur, newsreaders believe they are local celebrities due to their jobs.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In a Bizarro Episode of Ergo Proxy, Vincent and company end up trapped by a Proxy who acts as a game show host and has this personality to a T, and delivers exposition in the form of quiz questions.
  • In an episode of Martian Successor Nadesico, the various female characters on the show participated in a fashion show to be the new captain captain for a day, and Jun and Nagare acted in the role of commentators. The latter fit into this role like a glove, being a rather jerkish The Casanova.
  • Tamaki of Deadman Wonderland.

  • Frank Miller's RoboCop sees Luke Spindle, a creep of a talk show host who frequently insults his audience and guests, causally drops a homophobic slur, kisses a girl in the audience, decks a guy who rightfully calls him a punk, and makes lewd remarks to a female police officer. Naturally, the female cop uppercuts Spindle, and later, an audience member makes a failed attempt to kill him.

    Fan Works 

  • Fred Willard often played this type, especially in Christopher Guest's movies, with Best in Show being a good example.
  • The jerkass Millionaire host in Slumdog Millionaire.
  • Subverted with Corny Collins in Hairspray. He has the hair for it and is somewhat self-absorbed, but he is wholly redeemed by the fact that he's not a racist and, in fact, is very open to racial desegregation. In the end, he openly defies the villain role and generally functions as a Reasonable Authority Figure.
  • Damon Killian of The Running Man, who is a Villain with Good Publicity.
  • The Hunger Games' Caesar Flickerman (pictured) comes across as a moderately smarmy sports commentator, the real distasteful part of the character is that he is casually talking about the horrible deaths of various children as they fight to survive in the arena.

    Live Action TV 
  • Guy Smiley from Sesame Street.
  • The Joe Schmo Show had a cast of Reality TV archetypes, with the hosts' being that of "smarmy host".
  • Frequently mocked on A Bit of Fry and Laurie, including with various real-life targets such as Noel Edmonds. One episode had a Double Subversion where Laurie played one of these and Fry was a highbrow author who lost patience and gave him a "The Reason You Suck" Speech about his personality, intellect, and method of interviewing; the audience was laughing at this, and then halfway through he "forgot" his lines and it was revealed that the characters themselves were rehearsing the interview, the purpose of which was to stir up publicity and make the author look edgy and impressive.
  • Knowing Me, Knowing You with Alan Partridge: Talk show host and former sports presenter Alan Partridge.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus has a lot of sketches based on this trope. Michael Palin as the host of Blackmail is one of the more notorious, though Eric Idle seems to have played the majority of them.
  • On December 1, 1976, the notorious broadcast of Thames Television's Today show aired in the London region, featuring Siouxsie Sioux and members of Sex Pistols. During what was apparently thought to be pre-show banter, host Bill Grundy, apparently drunk, made a rather explicit pass at Sioux. The resulting wordplay, which included guitarist Steve Jones swearing at Grundy, resulted in the famous "The Filth and the Fury!" headline in The Daily Mirror, and effectively ended Grundy's career.
  • Reality Show satire UnREAL (2015) has a typically insincere Smarmy Host as host of Show Within a Show Everlasting, a dating show. In Episode 4 he's shown practicing his patter right after having sex with a dismissed contestant, and right before sending her to the airport.

    Video Games 
  • In the classic arcade game Smash TV, the chatty host is definitely this trope, using such catchphrases as "Big money! Big prizes! I love it!" In this game, he goes much farther than just being a smarmy announcer. If you make it to the last level, he is the True Final Boss.

    Web Video 
  • Played for increasingly dark laughs in Sex House. When The Host comes into the show for the first time, he's way too personal with everybody, and Derek notes he looks 'dead-behind-the-eyes'. Over the course of the show, he goes just as insane as everybody else.

    Western Animation 
  • Daffy Duck fills the role in the Looney Tunes short "The Ducksters," in which he takes delight in the humiliations Porky Pig goes through on his radio quiz show.
  • The host of the show "Can You Spend It?" in the Punky Brewster episode "Punky's Millions" seems to hope that Punky and her pals don't succeed at spending a million dollars in 24 hours. They don't succeed and the host celebrates it. (The story does end well, though.)
  • Chris McLean, the host of Total Drama is an exaggerated version, being a smug, sleazy, and shameless jerkass to humorously (or disgustingly, depending on who you ask) sociopathic levels.
    • Blaineley, former co-host of Celebrity Manhunt and later the Total Drama Aftermath, counts too. She's pretty much a washed-up female Chris.
  • Beaux Handsome in WordGirl. There's also Seymour Orlando Smooth. One of the villains, he's not only smarmy, but skeezy—a corrupt host who rigs all of his game shows so that none of the real contestants has an actual shot at winning. Oh, and he uses his dazzling white teeth to stun his opponents.