Steve Harvey Says Game Shows Are the New Sitcoms

We asked 100 Americans: What’s the cushiest job in comedy?
Steve Harvey Says Game Shows Are the New Sitcoms

Steve Harvey caught a lot of crap from other comedians when he agreed to take over as the host of Family Feud. “You would not believe the calls I was getting from guys that I knew,” Harvey told Variety. “’Steve, you’re doing a game show, man? Getting into that cornball business?’ Well, do you know the checks they’re writing for this cornball business if you can take this cornball business and turn it into a hit?”

Who’s laughing now? While Harvey might have been one of the first big-name comics of his generation to take on a game show, plenty of others have jumped on board since. In fact, the list of funny names leading game shows is pretty dang long these days, including Patton Oswalt (The 1% Club), Rob Lowe (The Floor), Jane Lynch (The Weakest Link), Elizabeth Banks (Press Your Luck), Keke Palmer (Password), Jimmy Kimmel (Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?) and Jimmy Fallon (That’s My Jam). 

As Harvey says, “the checks they’re writing” are definitely part of the allure. Harvey gets at least $10 million a year for Family Feud, and that doesn’t count the direct deposits for Celebrity Family FeudJudge Steve Harvey or his radio shows. “They found out,” Harvey said about the comics lining up to headline game shows. “Everybody now tries to find that magic. Look at all the game shows, they went and got somebody with some face recognition.”

True enough. Nobody knew what a “Pat Sajak” was when he was tapped to host Wheel of Fortune in 1981. Alex Trebek was only known for other game shows when he took on Jeopardy! in 1984. But when both hosts stepped down, no unknowns were considered for the jobs. If anything, Jeopardy! and Wheel had celebrities fighting over who would get the gig

Now that primetime comedies are hard to find, Harvey says game shows have secretly become the new sitcoms. “I’ve taken a game show and turned it into a comedy show, really,” Harvey crowed. 

Family Feud is a show about the survey of what a hundred people think. Nobody cares what a hundred people think anymore, because we’ve got Google, we’ve got YouTube, we can find out what you think,” Harvey said. “They gave me the leeway to do it my way, so it’s not so much the question and answers, it’s more the relationship between the contestant and the host. And that’s what makes it pretty fun.”

But it takes more than being funny at others’ expense. “You’ve got to know the line of how far you can push the joke with a contestant. You can’t make the audience think you’re being harsh with them,” Harvey concluded. “You’ve got to be willing to laugh at yourself, too.”


Scroll down for the next article
Forgot Password?