Michael Wermuth Jnr – Today, we take a look at ten great segments starring everybody’s favorite game show host, Guy Smiley!
10 – The Anything-in-the-World Prize Game
This segment features Guy Smiley coming to Oscar the Grouch’s trash can and putting an unwilling Oscar into the show. It has a funny concept – Oscar doesn’t want to be on the game show, but Guy mistakes all of his insults as correct answers. Of course, since the prize is anything the contestant wants, Oscar gets his wish for Guy to “get out of here”. It’s one of the few times Guy Smiley hosted a game show on the street, and we get a great view of the area of the street beside 123 Sesame, an angle we don’t see too often. I also find it interesting that this segment actually shows a camera man and camera. We don’t see that in other game show sketches.
9 – The Letter of the Day Pageant
This parody of beauty pageants has Guy awarding the letter of the day, with all of the nominees being vowels. The build-up is good enough, but the best part is Guy Smiley’s song at the end. His singing voice here is different from his speaking voice, having a great classy sound. I also like the announcer’s mention of sponsors at the end.
8 – The Addition Game
Herry Monster gets to be the contestant in this one, where the object of the game is to use addition. Of course, each problem involves adding only one number, which Herry gets right at first, but he’s unable to add 3+1, which Guy comically comments “you didn’t think this would be easy, would you?” It’s one of the few Sesame Street game shows where the contestant is shown to lose (well, when it comes to game shows that aren’t competition), as well as one of the few that doesn’t end after the contestant is done (we just get another contestant, whose name is a variation on Frank Oz’s name), and we get some funny destruction at the end.
7 – Estimation Vacation
This is the only major interaction between Guy Smiley and Bert, and what makes it really interesting is that it’s from last year, when the two characters are both performed by Eric Jacobson (I wonder if the producers expected to get Frank Oz available for this). As with many of the games Bert has played with Ernie, Bert is made a contestant against his will, competing against the Estimation Crustacean, and the object of the game is to estimate an amount, as opposed to guess the exact amount, and the winner is whoever gets the closest answer. This is a great recent moment.
6 – What Is It?
This game show features Grover, Biff, and Prairie Dawn as contestants, where they are blindfolded and have to guess what a featured item is. I thought it was interesting that Grover and Biff were paired (though they also appeared together in a sketch where they play cavemen), since both characters often get things wrong. This is another rare one where none of the contestants get the answer right, though Prairie Dawn does figure out the answer. The first several times I watched this, I was confused by her saying what it was and that she was going to say it, but then I noticed that at that point the contestants were only allowed to agree on one answer between them (when they were allowed to make their own guesses earlier).
5 – Here is Your Life: House
One of the “Here is Your Life” segments, this one focuses on a house. More specifically, the house is 2102 Shady Lane. We’ve seen talking Muppet houses before, but here, we get to see a talking house with regular-sized Muppets. This is my favorite of the “Here is Your Life” segments, in part because it seems so odd in comparison to other “Here is Your Life” segments. I hope that one day, Muppet fans everywhere will find official info on who performed the house.
4 – The Audience Goes to Lunch
This one has a funny subject: Guy Smiley takes his entire audience to lunch, showing that his hosting job must pay well. As I write this I feel it reminds me of the time Andy Kauffman did a show and invited his entire audience out for milk and cookies, even paying their bus fare. Then again, he only has 39 audience members with him – wouldn’t a normal studio audience be bigger? Anyway, we see a mix of minor characters and one-time Anything Muppets, and as they’re counted, Guy is informed that there’s a table with 39 chairs – but not a table for 40, meaning Guy does not get to eat with them (but is still promised the bill). He tries to get other customers to invite him (whose last names seem to be taken from Sesame Street crew members Chet O’Brien and Lisa Simon), without any luck. I wonder why he couldn’t have just asked for his own table (unless the place was otherwise full, or full of reservations). It also seems odd to me that there’d be a table with such an odd number of chairs, as opposed to an even 40, but maybe I’m over thinking this logic.
3 – Mystery Guest
This is one of my favorites, part of which is because it’s a rare opportunity to see old school characters Guy Smiley, Don Music, and Sherlock Hemlock together, and it’s also a rare opportunity to see Cookie Monster with Don or Sherlock. It’s similar to “What Is It?”, in that a few familiar Sesame Street characters are the contestants and wear blindfolds while guessing who the mystery guest is. The guest is the letter X, but the contestants make different guesses (Cookie Monster, for example, guesses O, because it’s mouth-shaped). And none of the contestants get to know who the guest was.
2 – Air
While Guy Smiley sometimes has a different voice when singing, here he sings with his normal voice, and it is a really funny when. When a barber keeps saying words that rhyme with “Air”, Guy Smiley busts through the walls with a marching band, asking “did somebody say AIR?”, and despite them correcting him, he leads into a song about how important air is. It’s interesting that Guy Smiley was used here. I feel like they could have used any Anything Muppet or monster for this sketch. I really like the randomness of this, not to mention the fact that this happens three times (though the last time, we only hear the crash and start of the music, with the others moaning “Oh, no….”
1 – Beat the Time: Cookie Monster
The best of the “Beat the Time” segments finds Cookie Monster as the contestant, and the prize is a cookie. Cookie has 30 seconds to find three things that rhyme with the word “rain”, and he brings a cane (belonging to a man), a chain (belonging to Frazzle), and a train (and wrecks the studio). It’s kind of absurd that the train can go into the studio – were there railroad tracks leading to the studio, or is this a train with the ability to not need tracks? In fact, it’s interesting how in the “Beat the Time” segments, they don’t seem to have the stuff to find in the studio – Cookie Monster and others just go out to find them on their own, often taking things that belong to others, who aren’t taking part in the show. I’d like to see a “Beat the Time” that shows the contestants out of the studio as they find things. All of the “Beat the Time” segments are great. The one with Grover is especially great, though I could be thinking that more because that one used to be so rare for fans, and despite how clever that one is, it’s not as manic as the other ones. The one with The Count isn’t as manic either, as he just stays in the studio counting. But “Beat the Time” sure is memorable. And Guy Smiley is a memorable game show host.