The booming voice on the phone rendered caller ID moot.
“Hi, Bob Eubanks here,” bellowed the veteran game-show host, who was anxious to share why he is headed to the Twin Cities this weekend.
“I read something one time about gamblers. People who like to gamble like game shows and magicians. I found that fascinating. Maybe that’s why so many magicians perform in Vegas.”
It’s definitely why Eubanks, a spry 76, is emceeing a carousel of game shows at Mystic Lake. “America’s Greatest Game Shows” pulls scores of folks from the audience to participate in live renditions of “Let’s Make a Deal,” “Love Connection,” “Card Sharks,” “The Gong Show” and “Name That Tune”
And, of course, “The Newlywed Game,” the show that brought Eubanks to prominence, thanks to newly minted husbands and wives. With a hint of risqué business, Eubanks borrowed a pop-song title to turn “makin’ whoopee” into a common catchphrase and make the show acceptable for network scolds.
Over the ensuing years, Eubanks has hosted several other game shows, managed country-music stars and, in recent years, got on the motivational speaking circuit. But for this longtime host, the game’s still the thing.
Q: Do people who want to be on game shows fit a particular personality type?
A: Not necessarily. First of all, they’re there to win. I have found that all kinds of people make good contestants. Shy people are funny. Outgoing people are funny.
Q: Was it hard to fit together the pieces of so many games?
A: No. We have a regular traveling unit, and we’ve played 200 or 300 casinos. The production manager handles the set. Two others are on stage with me: Mr. Game Show and a girl.
Q: Do you give the participants in the live games the same directions as you did for your TV shows?
A: They can have at it. That’s my playground. Sometimes we’ll pull something out of the hopper, like “Dance With Yourself.” We pull three tickets for judges, and I choose three dancers. So some [contestants] are chosen by ticket number and some by me.
Q: There were some naughty moments on “The Newlywed Game.” Does that happen with “America’s Greatest Game Shows”?
A: Never had that problem. I have a pretty good handle on what’s going on. You can’t fool me. I’ve been doing it too long.
Q: What do you talk about in your motivational speeches?
A: My speech is very funny, but with a very strong message. I use outtakes of my shows to make a point. I talk about criticism, I talk about reinventing one’s self, I talk about the elderly, I talk about first impressions, I talk about how we’ve got to be nice to each other.
Q: What keeps you motivated?
A: I have a wonderful, wonderful, beautiful wife and a 10-year-old boy who keeps me going. I’m healthy, and I get paid to go out and make people laugh. I am the most blessed person you could imagine.
Q: Will you ever retire?
A: No. I may slow down someday. I have a friend who says “If you rest, you rust.” I’ve got a little boy to shoot hoops with every afternoon, and to play soccer with.