When it comes to including gambling on the big or small screen, bingo does not get the same amount of love as other games such as blackjack, poker, roulette or even slot machines. That hasn’t stopped a handful of films and TV shows from included bingo scenes, normally in a humorous setting.
Before we continue, here’s a quick refresher on some of the most popular bingo lingo you should know so that you don’t feel left out of the loop:
Caller: The person who runs the bingo game and calls out the numbers each round.
Dauber: The ink dispensing pen bingo players use to mark the numbers on their cards.
Hall: Any room that hosts or holds bingo games.
If you want to really up your bingo lingo, check out the “Periodic Table of Bingo”, created by 888ladies.com. It contains an impressive graphic comprised of every major piece of bingo slang you can imagine.
Let’s get started! Here’s a look at a couple of the most popular bingo scenes ever put on camera:
Rampage is a cult classic film based around the life of a disturbed young male who at some point takes it upon himself to gear up in tactical armor, grab some automatic weapons, and cure what he believes to be the world’s primary ailment, overpopulation. The movie follows the main character through various settings that involve a lot of graphic violence, eventually ending up in a bingo hall. The gun-toting protagonist quietly eats a sandwich in the back of the hall, with the rest of the participants oblivious to his presence until he finally makes his way up to the front of the auditorium and takes the bingo ball out of the hands of the bingo caller.
Logic would dictate, based on what happens in nearly every other scene in the film, that the main character is just moments away from unloading clip after clip into the bingo audience. The movie pulls a fakeout here, however, when the main character simply exits the building.
Bingo Realism: In the movie, the bingo players are depicted as showing little to no concern about the gunman and are more interested in wanting the game to resume after the main character causes it to halt. Obviously this wouldn’t be the case in the real world, but the scene is meant to convey how seriously bingo players take their bingo. So from that standpoint, it’s a pretty good representation.
Curb Your Enthusiasm
The popular HBO show, starring Seinfield co-creator Larry David, bases most of its episodes around placing the main character into awkward scenarios where he ends up making a fool out of himself. In this scene, Larry is visiting his father’s retirement home and opts to play in one of the weekly bingo games with the rest of the residents. The viewing audience is also told that Larry is a great bingo player who wins more often than he loses.
Of course, keeping with the show’s theme, Larry ends up losing his bingo round to an overly enthusiastic elderly female player, causing Larry to end up accusing the bingo caller (another elderly woman) of cheating, arguing that the caller helped the female player win so that they could share the prize, a $1 bill.
Bingo Realism: The claim that anyone can win more bingo games than they lose is simply insane. Due to the sheer number of participants in a bingo game, your chances of winning even once in a session is a long shot. But kudos to the show for accurately portraying just how lame the prizes can be at some bingo halls.
The only animated movie to make the list, Hotel Transylvania follows lead character Dracula as he owns and operates a holiday retreat for other monsters, where one of the activities includes a bingo game. Since all of the participants are classic movie monsters and creatures like Dracula himself, the bingo setting and props are equally out of this world, with the bingo balls having been replaced by miniature skulls.
As the bingo game progresses, the Bride of Frankenstein hits a winning bingo, only to have the little monster sitting next to her eat her card in frustration, a testament to the competitive nature of bingo players.
Bingo Realism: Has someone ever destroyed another player’s card out of frustration? You have to imagine such a thing has happened, especially in bingo halls that don’t have the security camera monitoring found in larger halls/casino venues. It’s unlikely that same person ate the bingo card, but you never know.
With Jackass alum Johnny Knoxville as the title character, it’s no surprise to find that the bingo sequence found in Bad Grandpa is based around Knoxville’s elderly persona annoying other bingo players. After taking a seat in the hall, the bad grandpa starts out with some very inappropriate comments, complete with rude and obnoxious language. When that doesn’t get the desired effect, he proceeds to drink the ink from the bingo daubers at his table, effectively grossing out all of those around him.
For his finale, Knoxville then brings a margarita making machine to the table and begins to make mixed drinks in front of shocked onlookers.
Bingo Realism: There’s always a discussion on whether or not these scenes are staged or if they really happened, as you would need the written consent of everyone shown on camera in order for their faces to be legally cleared for use in the movie. But, as far as we can tell, the disgust is real. Not a lot of bingo action to be found, but that wasn’t the point of the scene to begin with.
Hopefully in the future bingo will get the attention it deserves from the media community. Until then, at least you have these classic scenes to enjoy. One last piece of advice, don’t drink the ink from your dauber.
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