Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - ENTERTAINMENT -

“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

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