“I feel like I have an advantage, because I know the game and I’ve seen it first hand, and was able to try to recapture what it was,” says Cullen, 47, a veteran of stage, TV and standup comedy. “You have to really let yourself go and really have fun, in a way that you really don’t see on television any more. You just never shoot anything that’s this silly and loose; I’m really excited to be part of it.”
Cullen said he watched Match Game regularly as a youngster back in the ’70s, and was always particularly impressed by the panelists who went over the top to get big audience laughs.
“I’m not at all like Charles Nelson Reilly, but I liked his playfulness, and I think that’s what I’m trying to get across,” he explains. “It’s a healthy kind of silliness. I mean, I’m not wearing yacht cap or anything (as Reilly often did), but I realize I’m a character in the show that’s cast as a bunch of people who play games together. So I think I identify with him most.”
Thirty-five years ago, when there were only three U.S. networks and no one had even dreamed of a game show that might make a millionaire of one of its contestants, just being on TV was a pretty big deal for Match Game’s contestants and the thought of winning a few hundred or — just imagine! — a few thousand dollars was enough to cause a fuss.
Comedy’s 21st-century revival of the show doesn’t offer much more in the way of cash payoffs, so the pressure is on the panelists to make this Match Game worth tuning in.
“It isn’t that much money, so it’s kind of halfway between a game show and a sitcom, and what you’re hoping is that people are going to keep tuning in to see their favourite panelists make the kinds of jokes that they make,” says Cullen. “That’s what all good television is — people making appointments with