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TORONTO — Some of Canada’s best standup comedians, plus the revival of a classic game show? You fill in the blanks.
The Canadian remake of Match Game — which ran for more than 4,000 episodes on NBC, CBS and ABC between 1962 and 1991 and lifted names like Charles Nelson Reilly and Brett Somers to prominence — kicks off its second season on The Comedy Network on Monday. The original show’s popularity perhaps lies in the simplicity of its premise: contestants complete a phrase by filling a blank and try to match their answers with those of an ever-changing celebrity panel, their edgy banter filmed in front of a studio audience.
For the comedians involved, it’s something of an ideal situation.
“Mostly, it’s us and our friends, hanging out and being drunk and occasionally playing the game,” jokes Darrin Rose, the show’s host, who describes his job overseeing the panel as “like herding cats.”
“It’s basically a comedy show that happens to be a game show,” says Sean Cullen, one of the regular panellists. “It’s an opportunity for people to be funny and that’s a huge element of the show. If it was just a quiz show, it would be a really boring quiz show.”
“I think comedians want to just always be ourselves,” added Debra DiGiovanni, another regular panellist. “So it’s pretty much just basically showing up and letting it happen, and that’s what all comedians really want in a way. We can say whatever we want, we can do pretty much whatever we want — the only thing we haven’t done is murder a man on camera.”
“That’s coming,” Rose interjects. “It’s going to be so good.”
While Cullen insists that serving as a panellist does nothing to hone standup material, it’s clear there are still lessons to be picked up along the banter-filled way.
“It’s a funny thing about the show — saying something right on the nose, a dirty word, isn’t as funny as a euphemism,” says Rose.
While Rose admits he was too young to watch the show in its first incarnation, both DiGiovanni and Cullen grew up with Match Game.
“There was a time where we were growing up and you’d come home from school and you’d watch the same TV as your parents,” says Cullen, 47. “There were only like three or four channels… and this was one of the things that was on, and it was racy and weird, but you