What’s Up, Player? Chris Parnell Fills in the Blanks About ‘Match Game’ (VIDEO)
No offense to Dumb Dora, but we would much rather talk to Chris Parnell about Match Game than the oft-referenced punchline lady.
Mostly because, you know, he’s hilarious and seems to be in everything we love. We’re talking Rick and Morty, 3o Rock, Archer, grown-ish, and now, the rebooted edition of the classic game show that lets celebs let loose while trying to help contestants pick the right replies to various fill-in-the-blank jokes.
Here, the deadpan master shares whether he’s got Game, how coming up with answers isn’t as easy as it looks and why he’d happily revive one of his favorite former roles.
A lot of viewers don’t realize that Match Game is such a sweet gig…you go in and film a bunch of episodes in a single day right?
Chris Parnell: Yeah, they do three in a day and sometimes you do one, sometimes you do two. Lucky for me I got to do all three.
I know you watched the old-school Match Game…did you have a favorite panelist?
Oh, I mean probably Charles Nelson Reilly. He was always pretty hilarious and delightful. Yeah I remember him and Bret Somers were two regulars that were put on there a lot. But yeah, I remember it being-I feel like it started, what, in ’71 or ’72? It would change every year. Like it was Match Game ’72, Match Game ’73. So, I remember watching it back then when I was, I don’t know, five I guess.
Probably too young to be watching, looking back. Those answers were all such heavy innuendos and everyone was drinking and smoking on set…
Oh yeah. [Laughs]
And it’s kind of a party atmosphere on this version, too, right?
They definitely serve up whatever drink you want. They even bring them out to you and all that. I didn’t actually drink anything just ’cause I feel like I’m not gonna do as well if I’m inebriated you know, so.
You’ve also worked with Alec Baldwin in the past. The show brings in a lot of his 30 Rock and SNL friends, it seems.
Oh yeah. You know, Horatio Sanz has been on there, I think a few times. Yeah, I mean Alec didn’t approach me directly but I think it on some level came from him. He’s not only the host but one of the producers. So, yeah, it was comfortable to be there, you know?
What other panelists pop up in your episodes?
Jane Krakowski was on there, Horatio was on there. Rob Riggle was on there. There’s a lot of people who I’m forgetting. Oh, Caitlyn Jenner was on there.
Oh right. Is she funny?
Um, I don’t know but she’s interesting, you know? And she’s nice. And yeah I mean you know, she’s an Olympic Medalist you know. That’s pretty impressive. Honestly, I don’t know if I was that funny. I don’t know. It’s like, when you’re coming up with these answers, you’re torn. I think for most people, when they get on there, your first instinct is to try to help the contestants win. You’re trying to really come up with the answer that they would have come up with. At least I was.
And that makes it hard to also get the comedy in there.
But now, the questions are so funny and loaded themselves usually.
So what we see on air…are we seeing it as it happened, or do you guys have extended periods or breaks to come up with answers and write everything down?
No, you’re watching those as they happen. Obviously we take breaks, that being what the commercials are. But those are-as far as I know, those are in real time. [And] they encourage people to sort of get up and look at other people’s answers and talk to each other. Some questions you just draw a blank on, you have no idea where to go with the answer and somebody else might have it and you’re like “Oh, that’s the answer!” It’s obvious and then, you know whether or not the contestant chooses that obvious answer, remains to be seen. [Laughs]
Do you personally do game nights?
I do not. [Laughs] I’ve been to a few over the years but very, very rarely. I mean, I just go out so infrequently.
Oh, yeah. You have kids!
Yeah, so if we do go out it’s usually just my wife and I going out to dinner.
So you’ve now done Match Game and Hollywood Game Night. Are there other game shows that you think you would excel at?
It’s sort of in the vane of Hollywood Game Night, but is it The $64,000 Pyramid, or I don’t know?
I think they moved it up to a million.
The Million Dollar Pyramid? Yeah, I think I’m a pretty good clue-giver and receiver. At least, I think? I could not pull off Jeopardy. Maybe just a few select categories every now and then, but on the whole I do not retain the kind of information that one needs to retain to excel at Jeopardy. [Laughs]
Every now and then, someone brings up the idea of rebooting 30 Rock. Would you be game for bringing back Dr. Leo Spaceman?
Oh of course, I mean it’s probably the greatest character I’ll ever get. And the live shows were [such] a great sort of hybrid experience, you know being on the SNL sets and so many of the SNL people were the crew and yeah, those were fun. And also, I had so little to do in those and I got to do them straight to camera and read off cue cards, it was freaking so easy!
Alright and what can you tell me about your Match Game performance?
My wife is very excited to watch the episode coming up on the thirtieth. I said, “Well, don’t have too high of expectations because I really have no idea how I did.” I mean, I was fine, I wasn’t like an embarrassment to actors everywhere. [Laughs] I didn’t bring a lot of shame on my family, I’d go that far.
Match Game, Wednesdays, 10/9c, ABC