Friday, November 20, 2009

Ken Ober

Well, here's another one who dropped off before his time.

Ken Ober was known to many as the host of MTV's "Remote Control". It was the first, and probably best, of many game shows on the channel that subverted the format with jokey categories and gimmicks like a chair that sent contestants flipping over backwards when they lost and a spinning wheel from which contestants were supposed to identify music video "artists".

I had my shot on that wheel in the show's final season. The episode I was in aired on St. Patrick's Day 1990 but it was taped on a freaking freezing Manhattan day the prior December. I remember I had planned to wear my NYU sweatshirt on the show but they changed us all into green shirts and stupid hats for the occasion.

Ober didn't come backstage to greet the contestants. He just showed up on set. But he did show me some personal grace. There was a question about which four characters besides Barney and Fred could see the Great Gazoo. Deductive reasoning got it for me. Dino was one, of course. And the other characters must be the ones who weren't going to blab to anyone about it. Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm, who didn't talk. And Dino's counterpart in the Rubble house, Hoppy the Hopasaurus, of course.

Ober, and everyone else on the show, seemed awfully surprised that I actually answered the question. I think it may have been intended as a stumper. (They often put in questions for which they didn't expect an answer.) After the question, an interruption from "Ken's mother" took place. Ken said "Wow, Mom, I'm just dusted that that kid got that one." Then he looked at me and gave me the thumbs-up while Mom said something stupid.

I ended up winning the day, even though I did something really stupid and almost lost because of it. (I won't go into it here. Ask me about it some time.) And I correctly identified all but one video in the Grand Prize round, missing out on a trip to, where else, Ireland. The video I missed was by Bobby Brown. My response upon learning what I missed? "I hate Bobby Brown!" I said this on national television at the height of the man's popularity. I really heard it from the studio audience, who had been totally with me up to that point.

The whole thing was totally fun and I went home with a bunch of prizes, including a motorcycle that I never rode, all of which I had to pay taxes on. Boo.

Thanks, Ken, for giving me my first and only (so far; I'll get on "Jeopardy" if it kills me) game show experience. You'll be fondly remembered.


Kizz said...

How many conversations have we had about your Jeopardy auditions? You never once thought to add, "...but I as on a game show once." I promise I would have prompted with a "Really?"

MAB said...

I assumed that everyone from NYU knew about it. It happened during my first year there.