Debra DiGiovanni is a regular panelist on the new Match Game
Photos courtesy of Match Game
Ah, Match Game — for those who were either too young or too drunk to remember, it most famously aired in the 1970s as a televised game show in which comedians and assorted well-known people got sauced and said funny shit.
And, uh, well, it’s kind of the same now.
The Comedy Network’s new version of Match Game, featuring comedians Darrin Rose, Debra DiGiovanni and Sean Cullen, as well as a rotating cast of characters, debuts on Oct. 15 and will air nightly for 12 weeks; contestants can win up to $5,000 an episode. And the magic all happens in some old factory converted into a TV studio along the Lachine Canal and under the Turcot in Côte St-Paul.
“I grew up watching the old Match Game in the 1970s, so I didn’t need much convincing,” a sleepy-eyed Cullen says in his dressing room last week, before enduring the taping of the final five episodes.
Cullen has been kicking around the Canadian comedy scene for about 25 years; you may recognize his careful enunciation and theatrical vocal projections from CBC’s The Debaters or the million other places you may have heard or seen him.
“I guess it’s my time to do the game show [thing],” he says. “It’s fun to do — to be called upon to be funny and to improvise.”
DiGiovanni echoes Cullen’s sentiments, but after taping 55 episodes and 55 funny intro faces in 12 long days, these final five episodes are like an oasis in the desert.
“I’ve done 55 different faces. I’m done,” she says (in jest. Don’t get your knickers in a bunch, Comedy Network).
In reality, she’s probably come a lot closer to crapping her pants (from laughing, duh) than she’s willing to admit, and it’s all Cullen’s fault. “I’ve solidly giggled for 55 episodes,” she says. Particularly during the post-dinner tapings, which is when she says most of the panelists get liquored up — coincidentally around the same time they really start warming up. The particular taping I attended featured guests Pat Thornton, Jonny Harris, Anna Hopkins and Samantha Bee of Daily Show fame.
Prior to venturing over to Montreal’s Southwest for the tapings, Bee, a former McGill student, went for a stroll for old times’ sake, during which she was called a “scarf whore” by someone on the street.
“I am a bit of a scarf whore. It’s not untrue,” she admits in a moment of reflection, before resuming painting her nails.
“I don’t even know why I’m doing this. I bite my nails like crazy.”
She decided to come up from New York on an easy 24-hour jaunt to tape a day’s worth of Match Game episodes, without knowing much more about the show than what she remembered as a kid. But after offering “man sausage” as a possible match and inquiring where the minibar is in the first episode, she clearly fits right in. ■
Match Game debuts Oct. 15 at 8 p.m. on the Comedy Network.