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Fun and games with the Barker Brothers

Theatre | February 15th, 2024

By John Showalter

john.d.showalter@gmail.com

High Plains Reader had the opportunity to interview two mysterious new game show hosts named Milt and Bradley Barker about an upcoming event they will be putting on at Brewhalla. What better way to do so than playing the part of a fellow game show host quizzing them on the particulars of their craft?

High Plains Reader: Ladies and gentlemen and children of ages, welcome to another issue of High Plains Reader! Tonight our two contestants are fellow game show hosts Milt and Bradley Barker. Contestant No. 1, how about I just call you Milt? Tell me a little about yourself. 

Milt: I was born in small town North Dakota, came to Fargo searching for fame and fortune and I haven’t found either yet, but that hasn’t stopped me from my pursuit.

HPR: And how about you, Contestant No. 2 – or Bradley, for the sake of brevity?

Bradley: I’m actually from a small town in Ohio and I made my way to the Midwest to get away from the hustle and flow of the inner city. And I’m also quite fond of Scandawhovian food.

HPR: Alright, here’s a team question. How did you two end up meeting each other? 

Bradley: We met due to our mutual love of shenanigans and creative spectacles and karaoke.

Milt: I got talking with Bradley and we had such an affinity for TV game shows and I had mentioned that my mom said that my biological father was a game show host.

Bradley: My mother didn’t like talking about my father. I had to pry out of her that she was a beauty on a game show and that’s how she met my father.

Milt: We met at karaoke and as we got talking with each other we both realized neither of us knew our father very well, but knew that he was a famous game show host.

Bradley: Eventually we deduced that he was the same person!

HPR: I don’t suppose I could finagle the name of that game show host out of you, could I?

Bradley: From what we’ve been told, our father was very popular and he had a syndicated daytime game show. He was a pioneer in daytime game shows.

Milt: The ironclad NDA doesn’t allow us to disclose that info.

Bradley: How about we do it how our dad used to do. If you can guess close enough without going over we might give a prize. 

HPR: Okay, I won’t “Press My Luck” pursuing the answer to that mystery anymore. All right, here’s an easier question for you two. What is it you like so much about game shows – other than the sordid connection to them through your shared illegitimate father? 

Milt: Being greatly rewarded for doing so little certainly has mass appeal. But, being the showman I am, it's the spectacle of it all that really shakes my dice.

Bradley: Two of my three favorite things: (shenanigans, spectacle) and imagination.Milt: Game shows are like Christmas and Las Vegas rolled into one package. Bright colors and flashing lights. You have the chance to score big, yet no guarantees that you'll walk away with anything of value by the end of the night.

HPR: Good answers! Obviously the tradition of game shows is a long and storied one. Speaking of, who are your favorite game show hosts from among your illustrious predecessors?

Milt: Besides our dad? Hmm... Wink Martindale certainly had the best name. Peter Tomarken was certainly the most underrated. But, besides dear old dad, I'd have to say Alex Trebek is probably my favorite game show host. With his methodical delivery and wry, deadpan humor, his persona surpassed the game itself. When you think "Wheel of Fortune" you think of the wheel and buying vowels. When you think of “Jeopardy”, you think of Alex Trebek.

Bradley: For me personally, I’d have to go with Mark Summers of “Double Dare”, Richard Dawson of “Family Feud”, Alex Trebek of “Jeopardy”, and Bob Barker of “The Price is Right”.

HPR: For some bonus points, what are your favorite kinds of game shows?

Bradley: I love the ones where people try to win stuff. No, I like game shows where there are random upsets. Like “Jeopardy,” “Gong Show,” “Press Your Luck,” “Price Is Right,” etc. Things that take gameplay off course a bit.

Milt: Puzzles and knowledge-based games are fun to play along with, but I prefer an old fashioned game of chance. It's the ultimate equalizer, the great nullifier. A game of chance doesn't care how smart you are, or what your background is.

HPR: What kind of game show do you have in store for us? What sets it apart from all the “Family Feuds” and “Wheel of Fortunes”?

Bradley: It’s a comedy-game show hybrid where our contestants will try to match the answers given by our local celebrities to silly, provocative, and potentially risqué, fill-in-the-blank questions. Whoever has the most points at the end of each round is going to The Sizzler. (Are they even still open?) I’m kidding; they advance to bonus play and a chance to win it all. Then they go to The Sizzler.

Milt: For our inaugural game, we wanted to do something classic that also played into a sense of community. When we started this venture, our goal wasn't solely to have fun. We wanted to do something that played to the strengths of our community and reflected positively on our community. We wanted to involve local businesses and local faces, and celebrate what it means to live in Fargo. So when it came time to select a game show, we felt “Match Game” checked all of those boxes.

Bradley: There is going to be a lot of banter between the panel and contestants. Very similar to Hollywood Shuffle but with a smaller panel. 

Milt: Contestants get to interact directly with some of the vibrant personalities that bring life to our city. Likewise, those personalities get to shine outside of their usual circles of art, theater, TV, etc.

HPR: You mentioned some of our city’s vibrant personalities. Who else can we expect to see besides you two?

Milt: There will be three rounds of gameplay throughout the night, which will be divided between stand-up comedy sets from two hilarious performers, Jan Syverson and David Standal.

Bradley: We promote welcoming, accepting energy and promote and purvey positive vibes. Come to chill, let loose, laugh and have a good time. For one night only!

HPR: Well, audience, that’s all the time we have for this episode. Let’s have a big round of applause for our spectacular contestants. Good night!

IF YOU GO:

"Games Remixed" by Barker Bros. and Brewhalla

Saturday, February 24

Doors open at 6:30 p.m., show starts at 7 p.m.

Odditorium Stage at Brewhalla

1702 First Ave. North, Fargo, ND 58102

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