Pee-Wee Herman’s First Appearance Wasn’t On A TV Show You’d Expect

Paul Reubens was never one to avoid using any material that life threw him for his comedy routines; he parodied his experience appearing on “The Dating Game” in “The Paragon of Comedy,” a Showtime special created by fellow Groundling and longtime collaborator John Paragon in 1983. In “The Mating Game,” Reubens plays Happy Joe, a man looking for love by interviewing a panel of female hopefuls. Adding to the segment’s star power, fellow Groundling and longtime friend Cassandra Peterson appears in the sketch as her own legendary character, the horror hostess Elvira. 

Game shows would go on to define the career of Reubens and his alter ego. The actor appeared on multiple game shows during his lifetime in multiple capacities. He popped up as a guest on “To Tell the Truth” as part of a pick-out-the-real-Pee-wee panel, after having appeared as a panel member in an earlier episode. He was a contestant on “Celebrity Wheel of Fortune” and “Celebrity Family Feud.” Reubens also hosted the pilot for a version of “You Don’t Know Jack,” a game show based on the popular computer game. The fun-loving actor will forever be remembered for his ability to roll with the punches — and take home the prize.

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