5 TV Hosts Who Owe Much to Ken Ober


Ken Ober's untimely and rumor-laden passing has inspired a surge of nostalgia for his game show Remote Control, the first program on MTV to eschew music entirely. Less remembered is the influence of Ober himself, whose sardonic emcee skills led to a wave of fuddy-duddy television hosts with less-than-genteel methods of engaging contestants. Ober's ripple effect, it turns out, continues even today.

After Remote Control, MTV's next game juggernaut was Singled Out, the wild dating show where Jenny McCarthy (or Carmen Electra) hooted while lucky contestants answered questions to win a date with a single hottie. Chris Hardwick emceed throughout the entire series, bringing a smart, sedate confidence to the task, the sophisticated ease that Ober gleaned from his mentors. Hardwick has since gained a massive following -- on and off Twitter -- with his G4 series Web Soup.

2. Greg Fitzsimmons

Fitzsimmons is most known as a stand-up comedian and writer for Ellen, but he was also a stellar game show host. As the question-posing maestro of MTV's short-lived, much-mourned Idiot Savants, Fitzsimmons deployed cynicism and pop-culture questions with equal aplomb. Like Hardwick, Fitzsimmons followed Ober both in terms of line delivery and as a clarion of MTV's new model of programming.

3. Jimmy Kimmel

More than a decade has past since his first television gig as co-host of Win Ben Stein's Money, but Jimmy Kimmel's street-clothes persona owes Ober a back-pat. Kimmel complemented Ben Stein's stuffy monotone with -- well -- less pretentious monotone, as well as a casual vulgarity that blossomed with each reading of a glaring innuendo. Ober's signature disinterest pops up in all Kimmel line-readings.

4. Carson Daly

Ober and Daly don't seem like natural fits for a kinship, but Ober often exhibited a self-deprecating hamminess, that Letterman-esque blend of radio chops and open declarations of apathy. Daly hits the same note, never rising to real excitement and often avoiding eye contact with the camera. Underneath the tweezed exterior, Daly might even be a schlub. (Let's be clear, though: Everyone on this list, including Ober, exalts David Letterman.)

5. Joel McHale

The Soup cops Remote Control's disorderly interruptions and point-blank sketches, but Joel McHale himself is a rightful Ober scion. McHale's restless, average joe flippancy on The Soup matches Ober's dry snaps beat per beat. In fact, if McHale hosted a TV-themed game show featuring fake snacks and seat-belts, it'd be a hit today.