Come On Down
Learning about the death of Bob Barker this past weekend was tough. The longtime gameshow host lived to 99 and for anyone, that is a fantastic run. It’s impossible to talk of Barker without also talking about The Price is Right. In my opinion, one of the greatest gameshows ever.
Coming down with a cold as a kid or staying home from school for whatever reason meant one thing: The Price is Right at 11AM. The music and graphics would come onto the screen and you’d hear Rod Roddy repeat his signature phrase of “Come on down!” inviting the first contestants straight from the audience to play the game. I always dreamed of going to a taping and getting my name called. Heck, I went to a touring event of Price years ago hosted by Allen Thicke and was so nervous every time they called someone from the audience. I didn’t get picked but I sure as hell bought a t-shirt afterward.
Barker was fun, chatty, knew every game inside-out, and just kept the festivities going. What looked like a party in the studio seemed to be perpetuated by Barker’s enthusiasm to win each game and have a great time. Each time a contestant won a game you could see how genuinely happy he was. You knew he wanted that person to win the most on Plinko or get that car on Lucky Sevens.
The Price is Right is what childhood sick days were set around. It was a way to mark the day in a way you never could during a normal school day. Barker was part of my childhood in the likes of Thundercats and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And even as a kid, I knew he’d sign off with his signature catchphrase asking to spay and neuter your pets. He was an animal advocate and used his position to take a few seconds each day to take action on an important topic. It was so important to him that even today Drew Carey continues the tradition. Price has not had a gap in that humble request since the day Barker first said it.
Unrelated to Price, I remember watching the Adam Sandler film Happy Gilmore which features Sandler as a terrible hockey player who decides to go into golf. In one scene Sandler is on the course and Barker comes up and the two get into an argument and then a fistfight. This was so funny to watch because not only did Barker decide to cameo in the movie, but also participate in a physical scene with Sandler. The whole scene is on YouTubeand even watching it now, I’m laughing. All because Bob Barker was a great sport in doing this scene.