Alfonso Ribeiro is back on TV.
The 48-year-old actor, who’s been in show business for 40 years, is returning to hosting “Catch 21” as the reboot launches on Game Show Network. The half-hour series unites pop culture trivia with the classic Sin City card game 21. And reuniting does feel good for Ribeiro, as he is teaming up with his former “Dancing with the Stars” partner, Witney Carson, who joined the show as a card dealing.
But “Catch 21” isn’t new to Ribeiro. In fact, he hosted the original run on the Game Show Network for four seasons between 2008 until 2011. However, the former “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” star has kept busy and is juggling roles as the current host of “America’s Funniest Videos.” However, Ribeiro admitted sitcoms aren’t in the cards anytime soon.
Ribeiro spoke to Fox News about taking on “Catch 21” again, the strange encounters he’s had with fans, why he’s putting sitcoms on hold, and what has kept him going in Hollywood.
Alfonso Ribeiro starred in “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” from 1990 until 1996.
Fox News: Would you consider taking on a sitcom anytime soon?
Alfonso Ribeiro: There’s no plan to. I’m enjoying what I’m doing. I think that it’s fun to do this. I spent so many years trying to get America and the industry to learn the name Alfonso Ribeiro instead of Carlton Banks, that it’s pretty cool that people actually start to know my name now versus calling me a character. So I’m enjoying what I’m doing, everything is always on the table, but I’m very happy with where I’m at.
Fox News: You’ve been in show business for 40 years. What has kept you going?
Ribeiro: Work. Work has kept me going. I love what I do. I feel like I’m so blessed and so lucky that I’ve been given this opportunity and these talents to be able to continue to work. I’m very lucky and very happy and I think just hard work will always succeed.
I feel like if the timing is right and the opportunities are right, as long as you keep working hard and keep doing everything you can to deliver the best results that you can, I feel like there’s a great chance that you get to continue to do what you love to do. And I’ve been fortunate enough to put into work, but also be lucky enough to get the opportunities.
Alfonso Ribeiro (right) admitted that some of his encounters with fans were rather unusual.
(Jan Sonnenmair/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty)
Fox News: What’s the funniest or most unusual encounter you’ve ever had with a fan over the years?
Ribeiro: I’ve had a lot of difficult, sometimes confrontational situations where people think of me as that old character. And people can get, at times, unfortunately, very disrespectful. And so, I’ve had a few of those where people get a little ridiculous.
But the fun stuff is just, right now, it’s really with the kids, especially with AFV. Kids walk up to me and they… I’m that funny host dude. And so, those are the best encounters. And I try to make sure that I give every one of those kids an opportunity to feel special in some way at that moment.
Fox News: You previously hosted Catch 21 from 2008 until 2011. What made you come back?
Ribeiro: … I thought it’d be fun to come back and do it again. It’s a game where, as the host, it’s a very difficult game show to host because you really got to be great and quick with numbers. I’m constantly doing the math and telling everybody what they have and what they’re ultimately looking for, which is there to build the drama for when a card shows up, everybody knows what that card means.
So, if a guy has a 15 and you’re looking for a six and that six shows up, everybody’s instantly not trying to do the math in their heads, so I’m doing it for them. So I’m doing that with all three players. It’s a lot. But it’s fun for my brain to do and I get to have some fun and be silly. And this year it’s even great because I’ve got Whitney Carson dealing the cards.
Fox News: What’s it been like reuniting with Witney Carson?
Ribeiro: Well, it’s great. I always say, you never reunite really because it’s just on camera because Whitney and her husband, my wife and I, we were like their aunt and uncle. Right? We’re always with them, we love them to death. And so, she’s never left, she’s part of the family now. So right from “Dancing with the Stars” on, I’m Uncle Al to her.
Fox News: What do you believe is missing from game shows these days?
Ribeiro: I don’t really know if there’s anything really missing in game shows. I think everybody’s trying to make them bigger, make them better. I think that the reality is, as time has moved on, it’s not one of the main genres, it’s not what people are focusing on. So, some work, some don’t.
Witney Carson with Alfonso Ribeiro.
(Photo by Eric McCandless/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images)
I think we live in a different time where game shows are not as prevalent as they were back in the ’60s and ’70s. But I still think they work. I still think game shows are fun to watch. And it’s trivia. Obviously, I think that there’s a battle today because of the Internet and you could always get information and play games on your phone and that kind of thing. Whereas before it was pretty much watching it on TV, it was the best way to play along with a game.
So times have changed a little bit, but it’s still fun to watch them. It’s still fun to sit on the couch and throw a game show on and watch how someone’s playing it. And this is a game that way, where you’re watching strategy, you’re watching someone answer questions. So intellect and numbers. So it’s a little bit of everything that I like in game shows.
Fox News: You’ve recently welcomed baby Ava Sue.
Ribeiro: She’s five months now, which is very awesome. She’s an awesome little girl. She’s the best sleeper, great temperament, just great energy, she’s cute as a button, and I’m lucky to have my fourth and final child.
Fox News: How important has it been for you to be a hands-on parent, especially having such a high-profile career?
Ribeiro: I feel like it’s the most important thing. At the end of the day, I’ve got two jobs. The first one, obviously, is to be a parent, and to be there and to give my kids the best experience that I could possibly give them while teaching them how to have a chance in life once they become adults.
And then, obviously, my regular work life on TV. My kids don’t know the difference. All they know is I’m dad and I need to do the same as every other dad out there, trying to make their home happy. That’s my number one focus: what can I do to make them happy children that see the world in a positive way.
“Catch 21” airs weeknights at 6 p.m. on Game Show Network.