Thursday, January 17, 2013

Liar's Club and the Strange Objects They Featured


An old TV game show once presented a curious object for review, a pyramid-shaped glass object that the celebrity guests had to tell fabrications about to tease the contestants... Welcome to "Liar's Club"

I was recalling an old comedy game show called Liar's Club. The game show had three syndicated runs, the first in 1969 with host Rod Serling and regular panelist Jonathon Harris (Mr. Smith from the Lost in Space TV series) and the more-remembered late 70s version with Allen Ludden. There was another short-lived inception in the late 80s (1988-1989) but I am not familiar with that Canadian production. The 1969 series only ran for two episodes apparently. Maybe it was a test run; maybe it just failed to capture sponsor interest.

The Original Lie To Me

The general premise the game show (and the actual rules for play changed a little bit over each series) was that a mystery object was presented by a panel of celebrity guests. Each celebrity guest had a general scripted draft of a ridiculous explanation to tell of what the object was, and just a few minutes to present their case. They had to act as if they knew what they were presenting. The point was to tell a lie and you had to guess which story was accurate.

One guest celebrity would be telling the truth about the object. It was up to the panelists to wager money or points on which celebrity was telling the truth. The objects featured were things scoured from local (Los Angeles area) antique shops by celebrity attorney/actress and producer Vicki Roberts.

Liar's Club, with Celebrity Guests Betty White and David Letterman


The celebrity guests from the three-year run in the late 1970s featured several dozen celebrities that likely most of us still recognize including names such as Joey Bishop, Betty White, and even (to be) late night talk show host David Letterman from the guest list!


Amazingly strange but everyday objects were featured in every episode and the explanations of what these featured objects were often quite believable. The TRUTH of the object being featured while plausible, was often more bizarre than the lies!


These were rare, unusual and often very specific objects but nothing was ever one of a kind as that would be unfair. These objects had to be genuine and historically available for their time period.

Everyday objects from obscure and outdated industries were regularly featured and it was more fun than Antiques Roadshow is today! Viewed for entertainment, comedy and education, one actually felt like a participant in the show, -feeling a sense of growing anticipation for the revelation of the object's purpose.

A Strange Curio from an Antique Shop...

I recall one such item that was featured on Liar's Club that was a bizarre glass tabletop object. It appeared to be a solid hand-sculpted, hand-blown or hand-cut glass pyramid about 4-to-6 inches.

The main pyramid shape was attached by its base to a short square neck beam which itself was maybe four inches square, making the object look a little bit like a blocky four-sided Christmas tree. I could almost imagine this object sitting on a fireplace mantel as a decorative Christmas ornament.

The glass was not crystal clear but of a smoky greenish or blueish color with minute bubbles. -Imperfections and ripples in the surface and interior were visible.

It was beautiful as a tabletop display just as it was but that might not be its true function. It is the kind of antiquated objet trouvé that one typically finds in a little old antique and curio shops which was of course where it actually was procured.

I recall the one piece solid glass object being given plausible explanations including one description that is was from a sunken galeon or other such sailing ship. It was claimed to be a 'passive skylight' that when set into the ship's wooden main deck during construction, it would transfer sunlight below deck.

Below is my rendition of approximately what this object looked like.

 
glass object, shaped like a pyramid set atop of a square base
glass object, shaped like a pyramid set atop of a square base
 As it turns out, this is exactly what the object really is!
It is a 'skylight' from some old sailing vessel! These glass objects sometimes wash ashore to beaches after major storms or hurricanes.

Pieces and artifacts of sunken sailing vessels such as ornate wood carvings and such still wash ashore even hundreds of years after the actual wreck occurred. I thought that the inception of the object was intriguing.

Had I happened upon this object in a curio shop I would have walked right on by and never give it another thought. Now, I find myself always 'watching' in case I see just such an object.

Such was the power of that amazing 30-minute program, Liar's Club the comedy/game show that over 30 years later I am still thinking about items they featured on the show. Understand the dichotomy here; I can't even tell you what item(s) were featured on last weekend's Antiques Roadshow.





Rich with history, items like this are rare gifts from the sea from a bygone era. I really don't understand why that Liar's Club game show didn't do better than it did. It was really quite fun and educational.

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