Editor's note: Three weeks ago, comedian Jeremy Essig and KDHX marketing director Chris Ward announced the first installment of their new local game show "Loser: A Live-Action Game Show." RFT Music writer Allison Babka volunteered (perhaps too readily) to be a contestant and report on the shenanigans. Her first-person account of winning the night's craziness is below.
"Have your pets spayed and neutered." "We'll take the Physical Challenge." "A NEEEEWWWWWW CAAAAAARRRRR!"
As a lifelong game show nut, I've yearned to hear these words in person. During my most impressionable years, TV was was littered with tests of trivia and skill, which influenced my Tourette's-like shoutings of "I can name that tune in three notes!" as well as my weird crushes on Wink Martindale and Marc Summers. I had game show fever, and the only prescription was a year's supply of Turtle Wax.
So when local funny guys Jeremy Essig and Chris Ward recently asked for contestants for "Loser: A Live-Action Game Show," I said yes without hesitation. Billed as a combination of "Don't Forget the Lyrics," "Pictionary" and "Nick Arcade," there was no way "Loser" could fail to fulfill my game show dreams. Hell, yes, let's make a deal!
Before the studio audience filtered into the Heavy Anchor, the hosts split the six contestants into teams and explained how the game worked. In one corner were the Stone-Age Metroid Spider-Men, comprised of Jason Robinson (former vocalist for The Orbz), Chad Wallace and Shane Presley. My team, the Monty Hall Hellions, featured Noah Hacker and Rob Durham, a last-minute sub who was a bit unhappy with missing game seven of the NBA Finals.
We waited backstage for Essig and Ward to welcome the audience to the absurdity that was about to happen. As Essig called us forward and introduced us with twinkly '70s game show music, I feared I'd piss myself from both ecstasy and nerves. Essig, a comedian, and Ward, marketing director for 88.1 KDHX-FM, exchanged a few jokes ("I like to keep my co-hosts at cock height," claimed Essig), and we were ready to roll.
First up was the music category, in which teams would answer questions about a band and then identify members of that group from a photo. For bonus points, contestants were to sing lyrics from a specific song by that band, backed by Essig on guitar and Ward on drums.
As the supposed music category ringers, Robinson and I sat closest to the "buzzer" - a mallet with which we banged a gong once we knew an answer. Robinson nabbed first control of the category with his knowledge of '90s hip-hop act TLC and correctly identified T-Boz and Left Eye but forgot about poor Chilli, as we all do. Robinson left the bonus performance for teammate Wallace, who earned major audience approval and ten points by singing "Creep" and showing off some sweet moves.
I took control next by knowing about Radiohead and Def Leppard, but I was familiar with just two Radiohead members and zip from "the band with the one-armed drummer." With my teammates abstaining from singing, I stepped up to the mic and warbled the only sixteen words to "Fake Plastic Trees" that I knew, meowing the rest of the melody (I plan to pay penance by performing this song at karaoke tonight.). I fared even worse with Def Leppard's "Hysteria," skipping a verse to go straight to the chorus, though Ward gamely played his tiny drum kit with just one hand in a nod to the band. I got five points for each song, hooray!
Continue below for an appearance by Michael Jackson and some kids.
Support Local Journalism.
Join the Riverfront Times Press Club
Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.
Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.
Join the Riverfront Times Club for as little as $5 a month.
Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.