It’s America’s most popular game show, hosted by one of the country’s beloved funny guys. Here are all the surprising behind-the-scenes facts you never knew about Family Feud!
Before the cameras start to roll, each show is actually rehearsed in order to ensure that the filming goes smoothly and the contestants are well prepared. However, a “stand-in Steve Harvey” is used for the rehearsal, the world famous comedian only shows up to the actual taping. Despite the preparation, the show is unscripted and all of the most hilarious moments spurred on by Harvey’s jokes are entirely unplanned.
There’s a lot more that goes into filming the show than fans may think. Several families are brought in each day. The potential contestants do not know until moments before filming that they have been chosen to play. All four episodes featuring family are shot in the same day and four to six episodes are filmed each day. The contestants are treated to breakfast, Subway subs for lunch, and then a much-deserved break and snack.
As with any super popular TV show, millions of fans are desperate to know exactly what it’s like to appear on Family Feud, luckily a few former contestants have shared their stories and spilled some set secrets. In 2014, Cole Simmons did a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” segment after competing and winning $22, 000. Many wondered what the process was like when it comes to collecting your prize winnings. Simmons revealed, “You don’t get your winnings until 90 days after the show airs. It is automatically divided five ways. It will be subject to income tax…If you get the car, they just get you a car and you figure it out. If you take the cash equivalent, that is divided.”
Due to its incredible popularity, Family Feud has been translated into a long list of different languages, bringing hilarious TV moments to a global community of foreign fans. Familetna, Algeria’s version, debuted in 2014. Familien-Duell is Germany’s answer to Family Feud. Overall, there have been 50 foreign adaptations! TV Guide actually ranked Family Feud third in its list of the 60 greatest game shows of all time.
Dumb and Dumber
While appearing on Late Night With Seth Meyers, Meyers asked Steve Harvey the silliest answer he has ever heard to a question. “The question was, ‘If a robber breaks into the house, what’s the most unexpected thing he would hate to run into?’ You’re thinking, you know, an owner with a gun. You’re thinking a dog … this country dude goes: ‘A naked grandma!” Harvey said. “You just go, ‘What … what did … what … why is that your answer?’” “Name a word or phrase that begins with pork” is another question that resulted in a memorably dumb answer: “pork-cupine.” “Pork-cupine is not a damn word,” Harvey said.
The Kissing Bandit
Richard Dawson, who was the very first host of Family Feud, had a questionable habit of kissing female contestants. He was even cheekily referred to as “The Kissing Bandit.” The first time Dawson ever smooched a contestant was to calm her down because she was nervous about appearing on live television. Interesting approach…
Romancing A Contestant
In May, 1981, Dawson took a particularly strong liking to an attractive daughter of one of the featured competing families. They flirted outrageously for a few televised episodes. When the young woman’s family lost, the besotted host got permission to get her number from their paperwork and gave her a call. The move turned out to be a winning one for Dawson, the pair ended up marrying a few years later.
When the show was revived for syndication in the eighties, the producers needed to find a new host to captivate audiences. Football legend Joe Namath was initially hired but lost the role to Ray Combs. Prior to hiring Louie Anderson for the revival of the show, the lovely Dolly Parton was offered the gig, but she turned them down.
Rather surprisingly, the featured answers to the questions on the show have absolutely no factual basis whatsoever. The answers presented are the results of a question asked to a panel of 100 randomly selected people, and hopeful contestants are challenged to guess the most popular answers, some of which are completely ridiculous!
Each day, thousands of hopeful families apply to appear on America’s favorite game show. The application process takes months while families won’t know they’re appearing on the show until just minutes before the cameras start rolling. According to Sara Dansby, co-producer and head of casting, families have to show as much personality as possible in order to get a chance to be picked. “There’s no such thing as too over-the-top. Pick the most outgoing members of the family when putting together your team. We love loud and energetic contestants.” She also says that the key to making a memorable appearance is having fun!
Playing Dress Up
This may sound strange, but your choice of an outfit just might be what gets you chosen to star in front of the cameras. A former contestant revealed that participants receive no clothes from the production but families are given tips as to what they should wear. Co-ordinated outfits, certain colors and goofy accents will greatly increase your chances of being picked.
Steve Harvey is undoubtedly a huge reason why the show has regained its widespread popularity. The funnyman is largely responsible for the many laughs and high energy. In fact, previous contestants have revealed that the comedian even keeps contestants and the audience entertained during the ad breaks. He performs comedy sketches, interacts with the audience and keeps the laughs coming even when the cameras aren’t rolling.
Partly because of Family Feud’s wild success, Steve Harvey has earned the title as one of the country’s highest-paid TV hosts, but life was not always so kind to the Cleveland native. Before Harvey made it big, he was actually homeless for a period of time. The star admitted to People magazine that he had lived in his car and used public restrooms to wash before he found steady work.
The Oscar Mystery
The supposedly family-friendly show is no stranger to some accidentally obscene content but one naughty answer from a bold contestant takes the cake for the most inappropriate moment. On a 2015 episode, the participant was asked: “Name the last thing you stuck your finger in.” He promptly replied with, “My wife, Steve.” The answer didn’t make it on the board, but it definitely got huge laughs from Harvey and the shocked audience.
How Do You Split a Car?
When a family wins the game, the cash winnings are automatically divided five ways to each family member. A car is a different story. Since a car can’t be divided, the car is simply given to the family who is then left to figure it out who wins the coveted prize. According to one former contestant, the family also has the option of taking the cash equivalent of the car, which is then also divided five ways.
Ray Combs took over the prestigious hosting gig in 1988 when the show returned after a lengthy hiatus. The fans never quite took to him though, largely because they were so loyal to the previous host, Richard Dawson. Combs lasted until 1994 and tragically ended up passing at his own hands in 1996 after being treated for chronic depression.
Box It Out
It’s funny to think that Steve Harvey might have never made it on to our TV and movie screens. The future-star actually had hopes of becoming a professional boxer before turning to the world of show business. Steve had a long list of jobs in his early twenties, including carpet cleaner, mail carrier, and eventually training to become a boxer, before he was bitten by the comedy bug.
One of the unique things about Family Feud is that there is actually no age limit for trying out. The producers do, however, suggest that contestants be a minimum of 15 years old; some of the questions can be a little adult while contestants off-the-cuff answers certainly lead to some X-rated content!
John O’Hurley, best known for his role as J. Peterman on Seinfeld, hosted Family Feud for four seasons from 2006-2010 before deciding to retire and pursue other projects. Instead of cracking jokes and ensuring laughs, he took a more earnest and professional approach to hosting. While the audience didn’t initially take to his style, his quick wit and warmth made him one of the more popular hosts in the show’s long history.
There are few Family Feud fans who don’t love the charismatic and brilliant Richard Dawson. The gig proved to be the biggest of Dawson’s career. He said, “I’ve had the most incredible luck in my career. I’ve done lots and lots of jobs, and I’ve never, ever had a job like Family Feud. I’ve never dreamed I would ever have a job where so many people could touch me and I could touch them.” On June 2, 2012, Richard Dawson died of oesophageal cancer, which was exactly 16 years after Combs’ suicide.
Thousands and thousands, perhaps millions of questions have been asked on the game show. The very first one is fittingly presidential. The first question ever asked on Family Feud was “Name a famous George.” The most popular response was George Washington.
Regular viewers of Family Feud may have noticed that the show usually features two families of opposite race in each game. This is apparently done by design so that the show will appeal to as wide an audience as possible and best represent the diversity of the United States population.
One of the most memorable and bizarre answers to a seemingly obvious question came from rapper Snoop Dogg in a hilarious episode of Celebrity Family Feud. The question asked was “Fill in the blank. Pie in the…” Most people would answer ‘sky’ or ‘face’ to that question, but not Snoop Dogg. He gave the phrase its own spin by answering “Horse.”
No More Censorship
In more recent years, fans of the game show have noticed that Family Feud has taken on a much raunchier and adult tone. At least once an episode, a contestant will give a particularly inappropriate answer, resulting in some kind of hilarious reaction from Harvey. One reason for the more adult nature could be that the show no longer censors the answers, but more importantly, the clips from these episodes often go viral, receiving millions of hits on social media platforms.
The season had not yet finished taping when Ray Combs was informed that his contract would not be renewed and that his time on the show was over. Apparently, this didn’t sit too well with the host. On his final episode, after a contestant got straight zeroes, he didn’t hesitate to share his true feelings. He said “You know, I’ve done this show for six years and this could be the first time that I ever had a person who actually got no points, and I think it’s a damn fine way to go out. Thought I was a loser until you walked up here, and you made me feel like a man.” After that, he waved goodbye to the audience and walked off the set and out of the studio.
From 1983 to 1985, a brief and quirky opportunity for bonus points was introduced to the show. Tootsie Roll trees were placed at the end of each family’s table. The last contestant would draw a lollipop from the tree, if it had a black stem, the family received $100. The variant came from Dawson’s huge love of lollipops, which he often gave to the winning teams and particularly memorable participants.
Sesame Street is known for their on-trend and giggle-inducing pop culture parodies, and in 1981, they did an episode of Family Feud called “Family Food,” featuring a quirky family of Muppet contestants. Richard Dawson actually appeared on the segment and was even seen doing his traditional kiss on one of the cheeks of the furry puppets.
The current host, the beloved Steve Harvey, owes much of his current bank account to the show. He pulls in a whopping $12 million a year for the gig. His current net worth is estimated to stand at $12o million.
We’ve often wondered what it’s like to see your extended family participate on the show. Apparently, many family members cringe! One question on Family Feud had the show as an answer on the board. The question was “Name a TV show you’d be embarrassed to see your family members on.” Family Feud was the very first guess and the number four answer.
Some of the highest ranked episodes of the show, feature some of the world’s most famous faces. Celebrity Family Feud has featured the Kardashian clan, the Grey’s Anatomy cast, Kelly Clarkson, Amy Schumer, Steph Curry, Kanye West, and Snoop Dog.