Longtime MTV “Remote Control” host Ken Ober has passed away at the age of 52, the comedian’s representative confirmed to MTV News. The cause of his death was not available at press time.
“His body was discovered in his home on Sunday,” Mark Measures, Ober’s talent agent, told TVGuide.com. “The last person to have spoken to him was on Saturday morning. No foul play is suspected, no suicide, it looks like natural causes, just no one knows the exact cause yet.”
Ober’s career began in the mid-1980s with a turn on the talent competition “Star Search” and in more recent years segued into behind-the-scenes production positions on comedy shows like “Mind of Mencia” and “The New Adventures of Old Christine.”
Starting in 1987, Ober hosted five seasons of “Remote Control,” which, along with “Club MTV” and “The Week In Rock,” was MTV’s first foray into series television. A quiz show that tested contestants’ pop-culture knowledge, the set bore a strong resemblance to a suburban home’s basement. Standing behind a makeshift lectern and next to a giant television screen that helped guide the show, Ober would ask questions about celebrities, movies, TV shows and music videos. Participants sat on colorful La-Z-Boy chairs with food and drinks on trays in front of them as they tried to answer the questions and avoid elimination. The show helped launch the careers of Adam Sandler, Denis Leary and Colin Quinn, who made various appearances on the show, acting out sketches that functioned as quiz questions.
After “Remote Control,” Ober went on to host other game shows, like “Smush” and “Make Me Laugh.” In the years since, Ober worked as a supervising producer on “Tough Crowd With Colin Quinn,” a consulting producer on “Old Christine” and a writer and producer on “Mencia.”
“Ken Ober was one of the sharpest, quickest, sweetest guys I ever met,” Sandler said in a statement to MTV News. “He was always a great friend and I will miss him very much.”
Leary said in a statement: “Kenny Ober was and always will be the quickest wit in the room. He was fall-down funny from the moment he was born — a smart, fast and hilarious human being who made many of us, including myself, laugh until we cried. As the star and host of ‘Remote Control,’ he was a welcoming ringmaster who helped to kickstart the careers of numerous talents, including Adam Sandler, Colin Quinn and myself. He will be remembered always by each of his friends not only for his massive talent but for his true, deep and enduring friendship.”
MTV Networks President Van Toffler said on Monday (November 16): “Ken was a great guy. His personality really brought ‘Remote Control’ to life, as well as a new style of programming for MTV. We were really flying by the seat of of our pants then, and Ken was the reason it worked.”
Ober’s agent, Mark Measures, confirmed the comedian’s passing but could provide no information as to the cause of his death. According to The New York Times, Ober’s manager, Lee Kernis, said the comedian was found dead on Sunday, a day after he complained to a friend about a headache and flu-like symptoms.