Game Time

I watched something really fucking stupid on Youtube the other day. That’s easy to do, of course, you pretty much go to Youtube and click on anything and it’s bound to be really fucking stupid, especially if what you happen to click on is the scroll bar and you find yourself in the comment section. Youtube comments are to civilized discourse what a 20 pound sledgehammer is to brain surgery. In no other format would someone be stupid enough to implore a complete stranger to “show us your tits” while misspelling all four of those words.

Anyway, the Youtube recommended video algorithm (motto: Wasting your time with infuriating bullshit) decided, in all of its infinite wisdom, to recommend that I watch a full episode of the game show Joker’s Wild, which of course I did due to my long standing policy of always doing the most ridiculous thing possible at any given moment in time (a policy that works out surprisingly well as long as I stay away from the DMV).

For those of you who have never seen Joker’s Wild, here’s how it works. Producers scour the greater Los Angeles area in search of the ugliest people they can find to play this game show. I mean, really, really unfortunate looking people, like Charles!



I’m just kidding. I’m sure Charles is a wonderful human being, even if he was voted the Last Person You’d Voluntarily Leave Your Children Alone With. And I’m sure the ugliness of the Joker’s Wild contestants had more than a little to do with 1980’s fashion, which was apparently conceived while the entire nation was high on ether.

The game is played by having two fantastically unattractive people play the world’s shittiest slot machine, one in which you have to answer demeaning trivia questions while wearing polyester outfits that would hurt Helen Keller’s eyes. If you were lucky enough to vanquish your opponent, you got to play another round against Satan. No shit, here is what the host of the show I watched (Bill Cullen) said:

You know what happens here, Charles. You play against the Devil.

Who else thinks that this is not the first time that Charles has heard this sentence?

And then he spins the wheel a bunch of times, and the end result is that he wins something incredibly shitty by game show standards, like a puce colored stove. Seriously, while we have game shows with names like “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?”, back then things were being done on the cheap. And not only were the prizes cheap, but they were incredibly stupid, even by the standards of the 1980’s. “Who Wants to Own a Betamax Player Covered in Shag Carpeting?”

What I didn’t remember from having seen this show over three decades ago (probably because my brain rejected it on general principle) was that they used to get people from the audience to play as well. And after a Price Is Right-style elimination round, this old lady got to play against Satan for a La-Z-Boy sofa set which seems like a pretty decent prize until it dawns on you that the old lady probably died on that sofa.

Here’s the entire episode in case you haven’t lost the will to live yet:

Game shows were fucking horrible back then. Remember Supermarket Sweep? Random assholes got to run around the grocery store, and whoever racked up the biggest bill won. Well let me tell you something, as a parent I play that game every week, and not once did I ever feel like I had won after the cashier was done with me. Raped, maybe. Won? No.

Tic Tac Dough was another 1980’s game show staple, which tried to prove that the game Tic Tac Toe wasn’t just for toddlers and the feeble-minded, but failed miserably because, seriously, if the game can be won by a goddamn chicken, it’s probably one of those rare things that is too fucking stupid for television.

I never quite understood the fascination with game shows. A television studio gets random people to play Hangman, and everyone wants to watch it, but when I try to force one homeless guy to play Monopoly at my house, it’s federal kidnapping charges for me. What gives?

You know what I could got behind? Drinking Game Shows. That would be fucking excellent beyond belief. If Hunter S. Thompson had hosted Quarters! on prime time TV in the 1980’s, the world may very well have exploded in a giant fireball of awesomeness.

Hunter S. Thompson: Our next contestant is a filthy pigfucker so crooked that he screws his pants on every morning. (ducks) Jesus! Did you see the size of that bat?

Contestant: Happy to be here, Hunter.

Hunter S. Thompson: (maces contestant)

Contestant: (screams, claws eyeballs)

Hunter S. Thompson: Get a hold of yourself, man! We are professionals here! (Drinks all the beer, shoots out studio lights with a .44 magnum)

If that show had aired, I would have watched it non-stop until the world ended and I’m willing to bet that I wouldn’t have been the only one. Sure, there would almost certainly be some fatalities, but that happens on Jeopardy all the time (little known fact: Alex Trebek forces all contestants to play Russian Roulette before they are allowed on the show). And I bet the prizes would be a hell of a lot more entertaining.

Hunter S. Thompson: Tell that doddering son of a whore what he’s won, Don Pardo!

Don Pardo: A steamer trunk full of opium!

Why can’t we have game shows like that on the air? Instead we get this bullshit: