Update: It’s been 6 years ago to the day since Ken Ober shuffled unexpectedly off this mortal coil. It’s not quite Thursday yet, but I’m going to throw it back early and in his honor tonight. I’ve also updated the video with a recently unearthed episode of the actual show which features what was always my all time favorite category: Sing along with Colin.
Kenny Wasn’t Like The Other Kids. TV Mattered, Nothing Else Did.
Girls Said Yes But He Said No. Now He’s Got His Own Game Show.
And Now It’s His Basement, His Rules, His Game Show.
The Quizmaster Of 72 Whooping Cough Lane – Ken Ober!
The summer of 1988 was a tough one for your old friend, Dave. Being 13 years old is all kinds of awkward all by itself, but I had just moved to small town U.S.A. from Canada – a fate I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. My social life that summer consisted of a remedial Algebra 1 class at Minuteman Tech and watching MTV for hours on end. There was no such thing as reality television in the late 80s, and with the exception of a handful of game shows they actually played music videos. One of those videos was Never Gonna Give You Up. One of those game shows was Remote Control.
Gettin’ Silly Behind the Scenes of Remote Control
I will always remember Ken Ober and Remote Control fondly because they made me smile during a brief adolescent era when I really needed it. Today I’ll tell you that going to 4 different high schools is character-building, but at the time I wanted to swallow antifreeze and follow Heather O’Rourke into the sweet hereafter. Pre-SNL wiseacres Colin Quinn and Adam Sandler helped make up the cast of hilarious recurring characters and the whole mess was held together by Ober’s quick-off-the-draw and bone dry humor at the podium as the show’s seemingly reluctant host.
“Ken Ober was one of the sharpest, quickest, sweetest guys I ever met. He was always a great friend and I will miss him very much.” – Adam Sandler
“Kenny Ober was and always will be the quickest wit in the room. As the star and host of Remote Control, he was a welcoming ringmaster who helped to kickstart the careers of numerous talents, including Adam Sandler, Colin Quinn and myself. He will be remembered always by each of his friends not only for his massive talent but for his true, deep and enduring friendship.” – Dennis Leary
Ken’s post-MTV production career has already been well-documented in various pop obituaries. Most notable was his work on one of my all time favorites, Tough Crowd. He was a long time friend and collaborator of Mr. Quinn’s, and Colin must be having a very bad day today. And that was just written by someone whose molar just split in two. Ober also had film roles in a forgettable Lethal Weapon spoof (although next to today’s send-ups like Disaster Movie it comes off like Gone With the Wind) and the forever-awesome Who’s the Man?
The official word right now is “found dead in his home at age 52,” after experiencing “flu-like symptoms”. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. Thanks for the laughs, Ken. You’ll be remembered far beyond the reruns.