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After Ken Ober's death, remembering the Gen X touchstone 'Remote Control'

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Ken Ober, the comedian and TV producer best known for being the host of the late eighties MTV game show Remote Control, died on November 15 at the age of 52. For those of us who were weaned on MTV during the Reagan/Bush era, Remote Control was an important touchstone, tailor-made for Gen Xers—a game show that was all about pop culture, that was deeply ironic about pop culture, that was peppered with absurdist humor from comedian bit players that were about to become household names: Adam Sandler, Denis Leary, Colin Quinn. I remember watching the show religiously with my fellow pop culture-crazed high school friends; it was our Jeopardy! I remember so much of it with great fondness… except for the Ken Ober part. Isn’t that terrible? I feel horrible writing this, considering the only reason why I’m even waxing nostalgic about Remote Control is because of Ober’s death, but for the life of me, as I sit here trying to summon an image of Ober hosting the show, and I can’t. I even had to look on Wikipedia to be reminded that, per the theme song, the whole premise of the show completely hinged on Ken Ober. Reading about his death fills me with melancholy—but to be honest, I think it’s more about feeling me my age and mourning my youth than it is about missing Ken Ober. Nonetheless, allow me to pay some respect to guy whose signature work made me laugh as a kid–and reflected, affirmed and further nourished my own pop culture sensibility.

Photo Credit: Everett Collection