What makes a good game show host?

This talk of Alex Trebek’s retirement begs the question what makes Trebek so good at what he does? Or better yet, is there even broad consensus that he’s that good to begin with?

Would Trebek make a great host for Let’s Make a Deal?

Why would Drew Carey suck as a Jeopardy! host?

What qualities do you think makes ANY game show host good at what they do?

One quality and only one: timing. Not as easy as it looks.

YMMV: I haven’t watched Jeopardy in over 20 years because I could never stand Trebek. I’ll be glad when he’s gone.

Don’t think you’re bigger than the show.
Keep the game moving.
Less chit chat more game
Fit the tone of the show. Robin Williams would suck on Jeopardy! but do great on Let’s Make A Deal, for example.
Don’t be a jerk
Good enunciation
Dress the part

Specific to Trebek:
Don’t think you’re actually smarter than the contestants just because you got one they missed.
Don’t put down contestants that have too many or not enough letters in the “14 letter words” category - no one is counting before they answer!
Don’t make fun of dead goats!

Specific to other shows:
Don’t expect to kiss all the female contestants.
Don’t sexually harass the female product models

I think timing has to at least be one of the main things that every good game show host on any game must have. But not all characteristics are universal requirements like timing is. Certain games may be better with certain personalities, or may have the “stamp” of a former or original host on them, that has to be matched, or surpassed, or in some cases overcome or forgotten. For example, when Bob Barker had hosted The Price is Right for 963 seasons, there’s no way anyone new could have just walked in without automatically being compared.

I don’t know if he would have exactly sucked - maybe he would have - but what he would have done for sure is change the tone. Is changing the tone always bad? (And isn’t some change of tone inevitable with any new host?)

My guess is Trebek makes it look easier than it really is. Kind of like how Johnny Carson made being a late night talk show host look so effortless.

I think peppiness is another quality that’s overlooked. A good game show host should exude a certain energy. Robin Williams might have been too frenetic for most game show venues. I’m not sure why anyone thought Ben Stein was a good pick

Even though Trebek wasn’t the first to host Jeopardy!, he’s done it for so long that he has defined the tone of the show. It is a serious quiz program with a serious host.

Beyond that, the show is not about the people. It’s about the questions and the answers. There is juuuust enough time to do two rounds of questions, one round of terrible contestant intros, and the final question.

A high-energy host like Robin Williams would want to crack jokes, and that means less time for questions. And if he’s not cracking wise, what’s the point of having him at all?

Trebek does some things well but he often forgets that the stars of the show are the three people in front of him, not him. He does things that come off as lame and awkward that someone with a more zany personality might get away with (like reading a clue in a goofy accent). But then again, Jeopardy should not have a zany host.

A good game show host keeps the action moving and brings out the best in the contestants or celebrity panelists. That’s it. The host is not the star of the show. This was a problem that Drew Carey had occasionally on Whose Line Is It, Anyway?

I haven’t watched game shows in many years so I am not up on current or recent hosts who are good. Good game show hosts from the past who come to mind are Richard Dawson on Family Feud (Steve Harvey isn’t bad either), Bob Eubanks (Newlywed Game), Art Fleming (Jeopardy), Allen Ludden (Password), and Bill Cullen (many).

I suspect that the choice of the deadpan Stein (who was probably best-known, before that show, for his monotone delivery in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”) was absolutely intentional. Remember that “Win Ben Stein’s Money” was on Comedy Central, and it was, at a certain level, a send-up of the game-show genre (and of “Jeopardy!” in particular).

Mostly true, but not universally. There are game shows where a large part of the appeal is the host’s humor, banter with contestants, and force of personality—e.g. Groucho Marx on “You Bet Your Life” and, arguably, Steve Harvey on “Family Feud.”

It’s an interesting question. Timing is, of course, an important factor in most performance situations. Beyond that, there are probably as many different answers as there are game shows.

ABC recently revived Match Game, To Tell The Truth, and $100,000 Pyramid, hosted by Alec Baldwin, Anthony Anderson, and Michael Strahan, respectively. They all do a fine job, in my opinion, but if you switched them up I don’t think any would be as good. Each show has a distinct personality that is complemented by its host.

I always assumed that when he reads a clue in a goofy way, it’s because the director told him to.

John Daly hosted almost every single episode of What’s My Line and was perfect in that role. In contrast, watch Bennett Cerf struggle mightily as guest host when John Daly was away.

Good breath for the frenchin’.