‘Wheel of Fortune’: Pat Sajak Dishes on ‘Funny Thing’ About Game Shows

by Halle Ames

Wheel of Fortune host, Pat Sajak, once revealed what he thinks is the “funny thing” about game shows.

Pat Sajak has worked for the game show Wheel of Fortune for 38 seasons now. As a veteran of the spotlight, he has received 19 nominations for the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Game Show Host. Sajak has won three of them.

Pat Sajak on Being a Host and Performers

In a four-part interview with Television Academy’s “The Interviews,” Pat Sajak reveals what the “funny thing” is about game shows. He says that performers like to have the spotlight on them, and in game shows, that’s not the case.

“Game shows are a funny thing because they really go against performers’ instincts. The performer’s instinct is, ‘Where’s that spotlight, okay, shine it here’ and that’s why I got into this business because I want people to know me and like me, and all that stuff a game show is a funny thing.”

Pat Sajak goes through the levels of game shows, like Wheel of Fortune, and admits that a host is at the bottom and has to try and fade into the background. He says that is a struggle since it goes against everything a performer gets into the business to do.

“As charming as I think I am, and we could all agree on that. If people didn’t like the game, they wouldn’t watch our show, and you have to keep that in mind. So that star of the show is the game, the second tier of stars are the players. So somehow, you have to sublimate that sort of natural performer’s desire to be the center of attention and kind of blend in with what’s going on, and if you do anything that’s funny or if you do try to add something, you do it in a way that doesn’t get in the way of things. You do it, you move on, and I think I manage to do that pretty well from the beginning.”

Working with ‘Civilians’ and Improving

The 74-year-old also reveals the struggle a host endures while working with people that are not used to being in front of a camera. Pat Sajak says that each person is different, so he needs to know how to go about helping them.

“I got better at working with people, working with the players. It’s tough to work with civilians. They don’t know this business. They don’t know how nervous they are going to be when they finally get there, and most of them are, and they all need to be treated in a different way. Some need to be kidded a little bit. Some need to be encouraged, and some can be ignored because they’re doing great. It takes a while to develop that.”

Finally, Pat Sajak says that he has rewatched shows to see where he can improve on. Most importantly, to see if he repeats himself a lot, which annoys both him and viewers.

“When I first did the show, I’d watch periodically because the other tendency when you’re on a lot is to fall into habits that are annoying to people, you know. If I’m annoying now, so what it worked.”