Oneonta family to appear on Family Feud

Mar. 24—After a long wait, the Escher family of Oneonta will appear on Family Feud on April 19.

The family auditioned to be on the show in 1994, when Richard Dawson hosted, Bob Escher said. Bob said he and his brothers Doug, David, Steve and Rich, traveled to New York City three times to audition. They were picked to be on the show, but never appeared because the show was canceled, he said.

The Daily Star ran a story about the five brothers auditioning, and Bob said he thinks that article helped the family get chosen last year. In the audition videotape they sent to the show, Steve, who lives in Rochester, mentioned auditioning for the show 30 years ago and asked Steve Harvey, the current host of the show, to pick the family. Steve and other family members auditioning — Doug, also of Rochester, and Bob and sisters Jan Hendrickson and Ellen Shufelt, of Oneonta — introduced themselves in their audition video with their masks on quietly, then took their masks off and introduced themselves with more energy.

They took a laminated copy of the article and had Harvey autograph it.

Sisters Hendrickson and Shufelt stepped in to fill Rich and Dave's shoes. "The oldest two were physically unable to go, so we went," Hendrickson said.

The family went to Atlanta to shoot the show last July. Bob said Steve coordinated the outfits the family wore. The women were going to wear pink blazers and the men were going to wear pink pants. They arrived on a Sunday afternoon and filming was Monday morning. While unpacking, Steve realized he left his pants at home, so Bob and Steve went in search for another pair of pink pants, Bob said. They found a JCPenney's that was open, but the one pair of pink pants in the store was too small, Bob said. The men settled on Carolina blue pants, instead.

Four episodes are recorded per day and it took an hour to shoot a 30-minute episode, Bob said. Shooting went from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Shufelt said. When they weren't on stage, they were part of the audience and got to interact with other teams.

Bob said the taping took a while because Harvey would start telling jokes after people gave their answers.

"He's a very funny guy," Shufelt said.

Bob said Harvey had a hard time saying Oneonta. "He butchered it," he said.

Hendrickson said it was written phonetically on cue cards for Harvey to say, but he still said it incorrectly. Hendrickson said during taping she high fived Harvey after she gave an answer.

"It is a hard game to play," Hendrickson said. "You have to think about what people would say, which is not necessarily what I'd say. Some of it gets pretty racy and it's not something I really want to say, especially on TV, but you have to do it."

Shufelt and Bob agreed. "I definitely felt pressure," Shufelt said. "We were told to say whatever comes to our mind."

Thinking of answers was also difficult, especially when a teammate said what you were going to say, they all said.

Bob said they practiced with Alisha Rule and Delaney Escher as guest hosts, but it wasn't the same as being on set under the lights.

"Seeing our name on the set for the first time was very emotional," Bob said.

Hendrickson agreed. "I felt really blessed to be there," she said.

"It was an awesome sibling experience," Shufelt said. She encourages families to try out for the show. The show paid for the airfare and hotel accommodations, Hendrickson said.

The family competed against a family named Pearson, and it "was their fifth day competing," Bob said. "I can't say anymore."

In Oneonta, the show will air on WUTR at 4 p.m. or 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 19. For additional station and air time information, visit familyfeud.com.

Vicky Klukkert, staff writer, can be reached at vklukkert@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7221.