Did I ever tell you about the time I lost on Family Feud? Actually, it was the “times”, because I lost twice!!!?
I’ve been saving this story for a week when I really didn’t have anything else much to write about in my column. (This happens to be that week. It’s just too hot to be creative, so I’m falling back on a real life true story.)
Twas back in the early 80’s. Reagan was the president, and somehow, the Shealy family found themselves on the way to California to appear on the well-known game show, Family Feud.
My sister, Sherry, had learned of “auditions” being held in the Palmetto State, and had somehow persuaded the rest of us to show up. Actually, it wasn’t an audition at all. It was what Hollywood types call a “talent search”… visiting various areas of the country a few times a year to find families just crazy enough to be entertaining to the American public.
On this particular day, there were reportedly 700 people who showed up. Out of those, 16 families were deemed to be just crazy enough to be entertaining, and were invited to Hollywood, California, all expenses paid via Automatic Flying Airplane.
The Shealy family, of course, took them up on their offer. We were not in the habit of turning down free stuff, particularly free stuff that resembled a vacation.
So off we flew, Dad, two of my sisters, my ex, Becky, and me…. off to seek our fortunate in the bright lights of day-time television. A few other family members came along for the ride, and we did, in fact, make a West Coast vacation out of it.
They put us up for three days and nights, and we really only had to “work” one of those days. “Work” meant being at the studio, recording a TV show, which was not what any of us really considered to be work.
It was great. Bright lights, cameras, TV studios, and a live studio audience that cheered, laughed, or clapped whenever the producer turned on the lighted signs that said “Cheer”, “Laugh” and “Clap”. (Come to think of it, I recall the actual Hollywood TV term is “applause”, not “clap”.)
They wanted entertainment, and the Shealy family gave them entertainment. We were giddy with enthusiasm. When the very personable and talkative host, Richard Dawson, came out to chat with us, he knew he had met his match, talkative-wise. We were everything the Feud could have asked for in a guest.
Turns out, we were not very good at actually playing the game. Never even scored a point. Lost. Bad. To a Navy fighter pilot from San Deigo and his adorable family, who seemed to each have inherited his cat-like, Navy pilot reflexes when it came to punch-the-game-buzzer!
How bad were we? So bad that, in his conclusion, host Dawson suggested that perhaps, since we were a good Republican family, President Reagan might give a speech which would preempt the show, thereby sparing us the embarrassment of it ever being aired in South Carolina.
But time heals all wounds.
Five years later, we received ANOTHER call from the folks out in Family Feud-land, asking us if we’d like to appear on the show yet again. Same gig. Another free vacation. (Turns out, the show’s producer was a political junkie who had once run for congress and was intrigued by our family’s political background.)
Foolishly, we said yes.
This time we were ready for them. We practiced. We actually watched the show to see how it was played.
But alas, same result. We lost a second time.
This time we were up against a family of Mormon sisters, bright-eyed young girls who reminded us for all the world of the Osmonds.
And at least this time we scored some points. Actually, we even came close to winning. Foiled by the fourth answer to the question, “Name a sound a horn makes.” We easily got “honk”, “beep” and “toot”… but much to our chagrin the Mormon girls came up with the “aaa-ooough-aaa,” and we simply couldn’t compete.
Anyway, true story I thought I’d share with you since it’s really too hot to come up with anything original.
Here’s hoping for better luck next week.