Match Game Best Worst Celebrity Players

My Match Game Celeb Dream Team — Plus, Alternates and Major Mismatches

From its shag-carpeted stairs to Alec Baldwin’s “skinny mic,” ABC’s Match Game revival has struck a nerve with my 1970s self.

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll oftentimes be force-fed my “live” reactions to the weekly proceedings (though I typically catch up on the treadmill on Monday nights), and if you ever wondered who’s yelling out “Fork???!?!” in TVLine’s TV Questions column, yep, that’s me.

Yet while the new Match Game‘s crop of civilian contestants has sometimes left something to be desired — on too many occasions, I must wonder if the person ever watched the show before — the parade of celebrity panelists has been wonderfully varied and entertaining. Yes, there’s a 30 Rock/Kimmy Schmidt/SNL focus (likely born of Baldwin’s Rolodex), which is never a bad thing, but for every Jack McBrayer there’s more than a few wild cards, from recording artists to “serious” actors to a fashion designer who… must have been a friend of someone’s.

With Match Game on “vacation” this Sunday yet nearing its plum Premiere Week finale (on Monday, Sept. 19), I thought it time to take the informal celebrity rankings rattling around inside my bean and put them to HTML. In the slideshow below (and right here), you’ll find my Dream Team of the six best all-around players, sandwiched between a roster of “alternates” and a half-dozen mismatches who best can be summed up as “What the [blank]?”

As you review and chime in on my picks, here’s an alpha list of every celeb who has filled in blanks thus far this season, to nudge your memory: Jason Alexander, Ike Barinholtz, Michael Ian Black, Tituss Burgess, Mario Cantone, Josh Charles, Sheryl Crow, Edie Falco, Sutton Foster, Ana Gasteyer, Adam Goldberg, David Alan Grier, Cheryl Hines, D.L. Hughley, Leslie Jones, Ellie Kemper, Natasha Lyonne, Joshua Malina, Jack McBrayer, Debra Messing, Isaac Mizrahi, Bobby Moynihan, Niecy Nash, Jerry O’Connell, Rosie O’Donnell, Kal Penn, Maggie Q, Leah Remini, Horatio Sanz, Sherri Shepherd, JB Smoove, Alexandra Wentworth, Pete Wentz

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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40 Comments
  1. mikey says:

    I have to disagree about Ellie Kemper, made me cringe.

  2. jerrired says:

    I’ve been watching all of these revivals, and at first this was my least favorite one, but the more I watched, the more it became my favorite of the revival shows. You are dead on, Matt, with the worst and best ones. I love Jack and Rosie on this so much. And the description of David Alan Grier was so accurate. When he first came on, I thought he was going to be one of the worst ones, but the more he talked, the better he became. Last week was his golden episode on the series.

  3. flutiefan says:

    the contestants have been horrible! you’re so right: did they even know what this show was??!

  4. Sarah says:

    Rosie and Jack are must haves. I prefer Tituss instead of Ellie Kemper. I think she’s gotten better but I still don’t love her on the panel. I actually liked Pete Wentz on the panel. His reactions were pretty amusing. I’ve really liked Niecy Nash too. She and Rosie fill a similar role on the panel. I remember liking Ana Gasteyer but can’t remember what she did that I liked (good banter, maybe?). Leslie Jones was memorable. I think she’d be a great occasional panelist. And I just like Joshua Malina so it would be nice to have him around sometimes too.

  5. Rob Horine says:

    Jack in the CNR seat, Debra in the Brett Sommers Memorial Hot Mess Seat, And David Alan Grier in the Richard Dawson seat.

    Also, I hope next season they could Mariska Hargitay on. Her mom was on the original Match Game in the 60s.

  6. ToyCannon says:

    Tituss and Rosie were my favorites this year. I would round out my dream team with Jack, Leslie, David Allan and Ellie . And if it comes back for a 2nd season, please bring in Betty White for a week and maybe dig up Patti Deutsch and Fannie Flagg.

  7. Chuck says:

    My favorite celeb so far has been Tituss Burgess. David Alan Grier is a close second. I was really hoping they’d find some stars from the original for a guest seat, like Fannie Flagg.

  8. I take it Betty White wasn’t interested in making an appearance when they approached her – otherwise, there’s no excuse for her absence from this version of the show.

  9. fatalsin says:

    I LOVED Sheryl Underwood on Family Feud I think she would be hilarious on this show with its innuendos and play on words…

  10. Kevin K says:

    Leslie Jones went all out crazy and it may go down as one of the most cringe worthy episodes of Match Game in recent memory.

  11. Becca says:

    Rosie, David, Sherri, and I have to keep the bottom row of Leslie, Josh and Leah intact, with Josh M subbing any time at all.

    • Becca says:

      Actually, can I have David/Tituss/JoshM on a regular rotating seat and keep the rest?

    • diane says:

      Totally agree with you. Josh, Leah, and Leslie were on the best episode. I also love Rosie, Davis, and Jack on the panel. I even thought Pete was fun and cute.

  12. keenen says:

    I’m surprised Niecy Nash did not make the dream team or first alternate Not sure about some of the picks.

  13. Rachel says:

    I have to respectfully disagree about Michael Ian Black. He is always hilarious. My only complaint about Michael was that he was only in the first episode.

  14. Evan says:

    Waiting to see what happens when Sarah Palin is a “celeb” on the rows. I know she’s filmed episodes.

    • MMD says:

      Please say that is only a rumour!!! If it is true then they must be saving her for the finale which I will not watch. She’s a loon!

  15. TV Gord says:

    The reason why I still watch the mostly-’70s version of Match Game every morning on GSN is because of the cleverness of how thinly they veiled the double-entendres….but they DID veil them.

    In this boring single-entendre times, I miss the alluring thin veils that used to make things so much more provocative.

    I love Rosie like a sister, and she would seem a natural for this show, but she seemed tentative this season for some reason. If anyone deserves Brett’s seat, though, it’s her.

    I like Jack McBreyer (I have to say that; I own a Kenneth bobble head that would kill me in my sleep if I didn’t) and Tituss, and I would add Yvette Nicole Brown. She has the right balance of hipness and squareness that makes me love her to bits. (Just don’t have her on when she’s also on Talking Dead. That would [blank] me up.

    Finally, YES to bringing back Betty, Patti and Fannie! I would NOT miss those shows!

    Next time, I’ll get into why Alec is the wrong host for the show (though he’d make a great panelist).

  16. Philip says:

    New shows will tape in November for next Summer. We should find out who is in near the tapedates. Until then, the final episode features Jack McBrayer, Leah Remini, Randall Park Sarah Palin, JB Smoove and Kristen Chenoweth.

    Alec was surely hired in part because of his Rolodex. The difference between this show and Pyramid is that on MG, the questions are jokes and thinly veiled double entendres.
    Btw, for the people upset about no Betty, don’t forget that Match Game tapes in NYC and Betty is LA based and she doesn’t really travel that much

  17. Sade Ford says:

    How did Niecy Bash not make any if your lists? She’s the best celebrity player by far. I also loved Leslie Jones, Josh Charles and Pete Wentz.

    David Alan Grier was probably one of the worst ones imo. His answers were unfunny and often made no sense.

    • Matt Webb Mitovich says:

      People have different opinions, that is why ;)

    • ChrisGa says:

      Yeah, I’m a little more than shocked that Niecy didn’t make the dream team; I think she’s the best all-around player next to Rosie. Would’ve put her on it instead of Shepherd or Kemper (who, for some reason, I find decidedly not funny in everything, including Kimmy Schmidt).

  18. Liam says:

    This has been my favorite TV show of the entire Summer. I’m disappointed we have to wait until next Summer for it to come back. I’d love for it to fill out some hiatus weeks with special episodes, perhaps around the Holidays?

  19. John says:

    I thought Leslie Jones was one of the worst. She was screaming everything and was way over the top.

  20. MMD says:

    Matt, I totally agree with your assessment and picks other than Alec Baldwin. I was embarrassed at times for him. I think he would make a better panelist than host.

    I enjoyed the show but found some of the contestant absolutely cringe-worthy. Was this supposed to be a new twist by putting on contestants who seemed to know absolutely nothing about the show?

  21. TJ says:

    I wanted to hate this version of Match Game so much. I didn’t think you could revive it to be anywhere near as good as the original. (Plus I’m not a huge Alec Baldwin fan.) Boy was I pleasantly surprised. We recorded the other game shows for about two weeks but we have only stayed with Match Game. It’s actually a fun way to wind down the weekend. They just need to find contestants who understand that game…. make them watch a few of the old episodes to get it.

    Leslie Jones had me laughing so hard on that one episode she did. She might get old if she was on every week but they need to have her on again.

  22. Ronnie says:

    A Dream episode would have Rosie, Leah and Leslie for the ladies and David, Jason, and Jack. And it has to be said that Jack is this generation’s Charles Nelson Reilly!

  23. Anon says:

    Completely disagree about Michael Ian Black. I thought he was great. Hope he does the show again.