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Fun House (American game show) facts for kids

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Fun House
Created by Bob Synes
Presented by J. D. Roth
Narrated by John "Tiny" Hurley (Syndication)
Michael "Boogaloo Shrimp" Chambers (FOX)
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 3
No. of episodes 375
Production location(s) Hollywood Center Studios
Hollywood, California
Running time approx. 22 minutes
Production company(s) Stone Television (1988–1990)
Stone Stanley Productions (1990–1991)
Lorimar Television (1989–1990)
Telepictures Productions (1990–1991)
Distributor Lorimar-Telepictures (1988–1989)
Warner Bros. Television Distribution (1989–1991)
Original network Syndication (1988–1990)
Fox (1990–1991)
Picture format 4:3
Original release September 5, 1988 (1988-09-05) – April 13, 1991 (1991-04-13)
Related shows Fun House

Fun House is an American children's television game show that aired from September 5, 1988, to April 13, 1991. The first two seasons aired in daily syndication, with the Fox network picking it up and renaming it Fox's Fun House for its third and final season.

Similar in format to the Nickelodeon game show Double Dare, which was being produced for syndication at the time and which Fun House went head to head with for ratings, the show saw two teams competing against each other answering questions and taking part in messy games, with the winners running through an obstacle course to close the program; in this case, the course was modeled after the funhouse attractions seen in carnivals and amusement parks, which is also where the show derived its title from.

The show was hosted for its entire run by J. D. Roth. John "Tiny" Hurley was the original announcer and appeared on the first two seasons in syndication. Michael "Boogaloo Shrimp" Chambers, a famous breakdancer turned actor, replaced him when the show moved to Fox and took on the name “MC Mike”. The show also featured the twin sisters Jackie and Sammi Forrest, both of whom served as the show’s cheerleaders.

The show was created by Bob Synes, a veteran producer of game shows who previously worked on Let’s Make a Deal and had created several other programs of his own, with Synes and Scott A. Stone serving as executive producers.

Fun House was initially a co-production of Stone Television and Lorimar-Telepictures, the latter of which took on the role of distributor. From the second season onward, Lorimar Television became the co-producer and Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution the syndicator. After Bob Synes died in 1990, Scott Stone replaced him with David G. Stanley and his production company then took on the name of Stone Stanley Productions, a name which it kept until the company dissolved.

A year after the show premiered, a spinoff series called College Mad House was created. Premiering in 1989 and running in weekly syndication for one season, it was hosted by Greg Kinnear and featured teams of college students from various universities around the United States competing against each other.

Game play

As noted above, the show was played with two teams, each comprising a boy and a girl. One wore red uniforms and the other gold, and each of the teams had their own specific cheerleader. The red team was always represented by Jackie, while Sammi always represented the gold team.

Stunt rounds

Three stunts/games were played on each episode (in the pilot there were 4). One involved the boys, one involved the girls, and the third involved all four contestants. Several games, such as "Pinhead" and "Dump-O", were races to answer a certain number of questions first, with the losing contestant being covered with disgusting materials (slime, garbage, etc.) by an unusual contraption. If the stunt ended in a tie, both teams received the points. After each stunt, play moved to a podium at center stage, where a toss-up question relating to the stunt was asked for 25 points.

Grand Prix race

The Grand Prix race was played as the fourth and final round and involved both teams racing two laps around a track that circled the studio, trading lanes after the first lap.

Two different formats were used for the race depending on how it was set up. One saw the use of vehicles, which would see one teammate propelling the vehicle (usually pushing or pulling) and the other riding inside it. In this case the two teammates would switch positions for the second lap. Other times the race would be run on foot, with traditional relay race rules used (one teammate runs one lap, then switches with the other).

Small challenges were usually set up around the track that each team had to complete during the run, such as gathering and carrying items, running through tires, or squirting targets with a seltzer bottle. Roth signaled the start and finish of the race with the green and checkered flags used in motor racing. The first team to reach the checkered flag won 25 points.

In addition to their objectives in the race, both teams were given chances to increase their overall point total with scoring tokens. There were four stations set up at various points along the course and each one offered a white token and a blue token. Each team was given a small parcel bag before the race into which the tokens would be deposited, which was worn around the team members’ necks during the race and had to be switched between teammates after the first lap. If any tokens fell out of the bag and touched the floor, they were ruled “out of play” and could not be picked up off the floor. In races involving vehicles, tokens that fell out but stayed in the vehicle were counted.

There was never a requirement to take the tokens. In fact, taking the tokens would slow down the racers as they had to come to a complete stop in order to take some. However, Roth would encourage the teams to take as many as they wanted because the tokens could (and often did) play a role in determining the outcome of the game. The white tokens were worth 10 points and the blue tokens 25, and during season 2 a fifth station would be added to the course for the second lap. This station held the “Token Bank”, which had prepackaged handfuls of tokens for the teams to take that could be worth as much as 200 points.

Once the race ended, everyone returned to the podium to see who won the game and the right to enter the Fun House. First, the team who won the race was given their 25 points. After that, the team with the lower score had their tokens counted. Roth would count each token one at a time by dropping them into a chute in the center of the podium, starting with the white tokens. When he was done, he would announce this and the team’s total to that point, and then count the blue tokens and repeat the process.

Once the second place team had their count completed, their score became the score for the team leading entering the race to beat. Roth then began counting again and once he finished with the leaders’ white tokens, providing that they were still trailing, he would let them know how many points they were behind by and how many blue tokens needed to be in the bag for them to make up the deficit; for instance, if they were behind by 70 points after their white tokens were counted, there needed to be at least three blue tokens in the bag. Roth then counted the blue tokens for the leaders, stopping either when they had collected enough blue tokens to win (any extra tokens were left in the bag and not counted) or once all of the remaining tokens were counted. If the leaders ran out of tokens and were still behind, their opponents won the game.

If, after every token was counted, the teams ended the game tied, a toss-up question was played to determine who would enter the Fun House.

The Fun House

The Fun House, as noted above, was a large playing area that contained several rooms and obstacles that the team members had to negotiate, in the same manner as in the amusement park attraction of the same name.

The objective of the team was to retrieve a series of price tags from within the confines of the Fun House. The tags, of which there were a combined total of sixteen, were colored red and green. The red tags, numbering six, represented prizes and each one was placed or hidden in one of the rooms inside the Fun House; each tag represented a different prize and the prize available in each room was displayed on a sign. The green tags, of which there were ten, represented money, were hung in various areas in plain sight, and carried denominations varying between $50 and $300.

The round started with one of the team members running into the Fun House to grab tags, with the limit for both players being three at one time. Once that limit was reached, the teammate in the Fun House returned to the starting position and the other went inside to grab more. The contestants repeated this process for two minutes, trying to collect as many of the tags as they could before time ran out. Once it did, no more tags could be collected and the teammate inside the Fun House had to turn around and return to the start with any tags possessed.

When the show moved to Fox for season three, a large alarm clock called the Glop Clock was hidden in the Fun House. If it was found, the team got fifteen additional seconds to run through the Fun House once the initial two minute time limit expired.

After the time limit expired, their prizes were revealed and their total winnings for the day were tabulated. Both teammates got to keep everything they were able to pick up, including any prizes that were in their possession if time ran out while one of them was still inside the Fun House.

There was one prize in each Fun House run that was designated the “Power Prize”, which rewarded both teammates with a bonus vacation trip if one of them found the tag. The audience and the viewers were informed where the Power Prize was before the round; the team was not made aware that they had grabbed the right tag until they were finished with their run.

Prize totals on the show were usually much higher than were available on other children's game shows of the time such as Double Dare or Finders Keepers, the latter of which was also produced by Nickelodeon, also launched in syndication in 1998, and taped in the same studio complex as Fun House. A team on either of those two shows could usually walk away with approximately $2,000–$3,000 in cash and prizes. Fun House, on the other hand, offered significantly higher stakes; the prizes in the Fun House had a combined value that approached and usually exceeded $10,000, and it was not entirely uncommon to see a team walk away with over $3,000, $4,000, or even higher winnings.


The pilot for the series featured several differences. First, voiceover artist Brian Cummings filled the role of announcer. Tiny Hurley was involved in the production, but his role was different (see below).

Each stunt was played for cash instead of points, with $25 for a win. The losing team in each stunt received $1. The Grand Prix was run for $50, and each token station featured three different tokens. Red tokens paid off at $10 per token, white tokens paid off at $25 each, and blue tokens were worth $50.

The Fun House featured a total of $25,000 in cash and prizes, and each teammate was only permitted to grab two prize tags at a time. There was no limit as to how many green cash tags could be grabbed by any team member There also A room in the fun house called the button banger where they could get a cash Bonus up to $2,000.

Once the Fun House run ended, Roth checked each of the prize tags by inserting them one at a time into a scanner on the podium. For each one, Tiny would tell them whether or not the prize was the Power Prize; if they managed to find it, both teammates won every prize in the Fun House.

College Mad House

College Mad House was a spinoff of Fun House that featured two teams of young adults representing various colleges and universities, with the content intended for a more mature audience. The show was aired on weekends in syndication and was hosted by Greg Kinnear, with Beau Weaver as the announcer.

As before, two teams competed. This time, there were four members of the team instead of two. Like on Fun House, there was an equal distribution of males and females.

This version featured much more risqué content and stunts than the children's version, often involving crude college gross-out humor and games that required lewd bodily movements among the contestants.

Stunts were reworked to accommodate the larger teams. The first stunt featured the men, the second featured the women, and the third featured all eight contestants. Scoring remained the same.

The fourth round was the "College Mad House Finals", a ninety-second speed round of general knowledge questions. The two teams would stand in line behind the podium and each member of the team had a pie. Buzzing in with a correct answer won the team 25 points and the contestant got to hit the opponent with his/her pie. After two contestants played, they moved to the end of the line and the next two moved up to face each other. Play continued in this manner until time ran out, and the team in the lead won the game. The losing team receives $500 for their university and a parting gift. If the teams were tied, one more question was played with the next two contestants in line. The tiebreaker was an all-or-nothing question, as buzzing in with a wrong answer resulted in an automatic loss. This game mechanic, minus the pies, was later used on the Stone-Stanley game show Shop 'Til You Drop, which premiered a year after the show went off the air.

The winning team then got to run through the Mad House, which was laid out in the same manner as the Fun House, except with rooms that were more centered on college life than children. One at a time, the winning team would run through the Mad House trying to collect as many of the prize tags and cash tags as possible. A contestant was not limited as to how many tags they could grab, but after thirty seconds elapsed that contestant had to freeze wherever they were, and the next contestant in line was sent into the Mad House. Play continued until all four team members had taken their turn or until all of the tags had been found. There was no Power Prize in the Mad House; instead, the bonus vacation was awarded if the team managed to "clean house" by getting all of the tags before the last teammate into the Mad House ran out of time.

The members of the losing team were also allowed into the Mad House, and used various methods in an attempt to slow down the winning team so that they wouldn't have a clean house.


Board game

Fun House
Players 2 to 3
Setup time < 3 minutes
Playing time < 60 minutes
Random chance Mild (mostly skill)
Skill(s) required Reading/Counting/Answering questions

Fun House was a board game loosely based on the American children's game show of the same name. It was released in 1988. The game utilized dice, markers, and a board game that plays like a real fun house. It was given as a consolation prize on the show.

Travel game

Tiger Electronics (1989)

A Klix Pocket Travel Game was released in 1989.

Video and computer games

Hi Tech Expressions (1989, 1991)

Games released from the Commodore 64 & MS-DOS were released in 1989, while a version for the NES was released in 1991.

Exercise videos

Warner Home Video (1990)

In 1990, two exercise videos were released under the Fun House Fitness collection hosted by Jane Fonda and J.D. Roth respectively. The first one was called The Swamp Stomp for kids ages 3–7, while the second and final line of exercise videos was called The Fun House Funk for kids ages 7 and up. It was re-issued as part of the Jane Fonda Collection DVD compilation in 2005.

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