| We like Comedy Central. We are happy they bring us Absolutely Fabulous and Jon Stewart. We even appreciated South Park back in the day. And we like game shows, too. Nothing compares to the finely crafted verses about Whammies on Press Your Luck or Dick Clark's pedantic patter on Pyramid after someone screws up giving clues for "Letters of the Alphabet."
So why is it Comedy Central has such problems with game shows? Though we loved Win Ben Stein's Money in the days of the weird, sexually charged banter between Ben and Jimmy Kimmel, Comedy Central has also brought us clunkers like Vs., the laser-eye-surgery-esque hilarity of Make Me Laugh, and the head-scratching Battlebots which is only funny when Bil Dwyer wears turtlenecks. And now they bring us Beat the Geeks.
On Beat the Geeks, three contestants apparently chosen from the line at a smoothie stand at the Galleria compete against of the "sharpest steel-trap minds of pop culture trivia"---the Geeks. Every show features the three oddly coiffured core Geeks: music (frizzy, long Dungeon Master look), television (enormous mutton chop sideburns), and movies (center-parted shoulder-length Toni Home Perm). Then there is a bonus Geek in a specialty subject like comic books, Star Wars or Playboy. (The last time we checked, someone who could name the July 1988 Playmate off the top of their head wasn't a geek, but more of an obsessive-compulsive pervert.)
All the Geeks wear red graduation gowns with gold stripes on the sleeve, à la Chief Justice Rehnquist in the impeachment trial. They also have medals that the contestants try to steal from them by answering stunningly easy questions like "Is Andy Dick better known for TV, movies or film?" Once contestants are eliminated, they are asked to leave the Geek Arena; though if it were truly a Geek Arena, it would be modeled after their mom's basement.
The strength of the show is the Geeks when they are at their geekiest. Sometimes we get amusing glimpses into the lives of the Geeks outside of the show, like the Geeks sitting around in their gowns and medals eating tuna casserole in a studio apartment. When they give their answers to the questions that are exponentially more difficult than those posed to the extremely bland and ungeeky contestants, the Geeks revel in providing extra details like how Alan J. Pakula died or the network on which Kablam! appears. We here at the 'Hole thrive on pointless trivia, so we applaud the Geeks for that.
This trivia hoedown is presided over by soulless host J. Keith van Straaten. We were curious where Comedy Central could dig up someone that could make Pat Sajak look spicy, and reading J.Keith's online bio revealed his experience in musical theater. Ah. Mystery solved. J. Keith reads the questions and some scripted quips while his "beautiful" co-host, Tiffany, holds up stuff or stands still.
More Geeks and geekiness, less J.Keith, please. But if there were any less Tiffany, she'd be a Juggy Dancer over on The Man Show.