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Hosting the travelling version of Family Feud, Bob Goen discusses his mentors, and the show's neverending popularity, and his first visit to Vancouver
Bob Groen is bringing the live travelling version of Family Feud to Vancouver at The Fair at the PNE
If the definitive list of all-time TV Game Shows were to be published, Family Feud would rank at, or near the top.
A staple of daytime television for over 33 years, Family Feud was the brainchild of legendary game show tandem Mark Goodson and Bill Todman and first appeared on ABC in 1976.
Pitting two families against each other in a quest to find the most popular responses to a survey of people polled, Family Feud showcased the charisma of former Hogan’s Heroes star Richard Dawson, who blazed the trail for a number of hosts, including Ray Combes, Richard Karn, John O’Hurley, and continues today with Steve Harvey.
With stints on both network television and syndication, a travelling version of the show is now among the most popular attractions at this year’s ‘The Fair at the PNE’ with Bob Goen at the helm.
Being a game show pro, I asked the former Entertainment Tonight host what he attributed to the Feud’s timeless popularity.
“I wish I knew, because if you had the answer to that question you could build other games shows that would stick around for nearly 40 years,” says Goen.
“One thing that stands out is the play-a-long factor; everybody likes to guess what the answers are and see if they’re right.”
Former Family Feud host Richard Dawson quizzes a contestant (Image: Joe Leary)
“It’s the same ingredient that has been so successful for Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune and other longstanding game shows. There’s also the interaction with the players. You always get a goofy answer; there’s always a chance to have fun with it and I think that’s part of it too. Richard Dawson was one of the great game show hosts of all time and he laid the foundation the rest of us try to follow”.
Goen clearly demonstrates the elements that are vital to the hosting role: he’s personable, quick-witted and exudes poise and charm.
So what are the secrets to being a great host?
“I was actually taught to be a game show host by a game show producer,” he tells me.
“He sat me down told me the key to doing this job is to think of all the contestants as guests at a dinner party and it’s your job to make sure that everybody has a good time around the table. I always keep that in mind and it’s served me very well.”
“My job is to do whatever it takes to let the contestant’s best self come out,” Goen continues.
“If that means having fun with them – relaxing them somehow – hell, I will tickle them and give contestants noogies. If you can make them comfortable, more than likely they’re going to have a good time.”
As a longtime fan of the show, I had the good fortune to attend the taping of several Family Feud shows with host Richard Dawson back in 1983.
Having been witness to every incarnation since, Goen’s style and the ease with which he handles contestants is clearly reminiscent of the past hosts.
Bob Goen is a treat to watch, and will continue his run of The Fair at the PNE with three live shows daily at 3:00, 5:00 and 7:00 p.m.
Being a first-time Vancouver visitor, he readily acknowledges that he’s getting more familiar with the terrain during each show.
“I’m trying,” says Goen.
“One of the first things I do when I come into an area where I’ve never been before is watch the TV weather reports because they always tell you the names of the areas and all the cities. That’s always a pretty good foundation for me and, yeah, I’ve been learning about Langley and Burnaby and Maple Ridge. Trust me, I’ll never be a GPS in this area but I’m doing the best I can and it seems to work.”