Jonesboro cousins meet Steve Harvey, play ‘Family Feud’

Special Photo
The Abrahams cousins rub shoulders with Steve Harvey on the set of “Family Feud.” From left, they are Toya Abrahams, Chris Abrahams, Martina Abrahams, Harvey, Tisha Abrahams and Tony Abrahams.

Special Photo The Abrahams cousins rub shoulders with Steve Harvey on the set of “Family Feud.” From left, they are Toya Abrahams, Chris Abrahams, Martina Abrahams, Harvey, Tisha Abrahams and Tony Abrahams.

By Jim Massara, jmassara@news-daily.com

When the Abrahams family of Jonesboro prepared for their appearance on the long-running TV game show “Family Feud,” to be broadcast nationally this Friday and Monday, they did it by going to ... a yard sale. Really.

Team leader Tisha Abrahams, a middle-school English teacher, said she thought they could prepare by practicing on a board-game version of the television show she found at a yard sale in Stone Mountain.

The problem? Their practice version was produced more than 30 years ago, when the show was still hosted by Richard Dawson.

“My cousin Tony (Abrahams, another team member) said, ‘They’re never going to ask those questions,’ ” she said. “And they didn’t.”

Comedian and radio personality Steve Harvey hosts the show now, and the questions, Tisha said, have most definitely kept up with the times.

TV audiences apparently approve: After several seasons of decreasing viewership, overall ratings for “Family Feud” increased 35 percent in the two years Harvey has emceed, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The Abrahams family is actually a group of cousins: Tisha, a teacher; Tony, a financial advisor; Chris, an IT manager and retired military veteran; Toya, an accountant; and Martina, a computer programmer. All are from the Jonesboro-Stockbridge area.

Their path to appearing on the show started last summer, when Tisha, responding to an ad on a local radio station, applied to the “Family Feud” website in hopes of winning an audition.

She didn’t give it another thought until a postcard invited the Abrahams to an audition at the Atlanta Civic Center.

The audition in June was more like a cattle call, with hundreds of families in competition for a spot on the show. “It looked like they invited as many families as possible,” Tisha said.

Once all families were assigned numbers, they were called to the stage at random to duke it out in a practice version of the game, hosted not by Harvey but by a casting producer. The criteria for being chosen, Tisha said, was that they be “energetic, fun.”

And, apparently, patient. After a long day spent waiting — from early in the morning to early in the evening — the Abrahams were not chosen to audition. “We were very disappointed,” Tisha said.

They went home and, again, didn’t give it another thought until the producers called them back for a second audition. It was less convenient this time — Martina had moved away and had to return to Atlanta for the audition.

What’s worse, the Abrahams were almost passed over again. “By that time we were frustrated, we were upset; if they called us again, we weren’t coming back,” Tisha said. By the end of the day, though, they had been called to the stage to audition, where they earned their spot on the show. The Abrahams family’s appearance was recorded in Atlanta in September.

Tisha, who listens to Harvey’s syndicated radio show on Magic 107.5, said that Harvey was a lot of fun to watch. “He interacted with the audience between tapings, he would allow you to ask questons. He seemed like he really was really enjoying himself,” Tisha said. “He brought a lot of life to the show.”

So exactly what questions did Harvey ask?

Tisha can’t say — the Abrahams had to sign contracts forbidding them to discuss the questions before the shows’ initial broadcast dates.

She could say, however, how not to answer those questions: Don’t overthink them.

“We overanalyzed our questions,” said Tisha, who holds a degree from Cambridge College in Boston. Cousin Tony is a Harvard grad, Martina graduated from Georgetown, and Chris has a degree from Columbia. Brain power didn’t always lead the family to the most popular answers, though.

“We just thought too far outside the box,” she said.

The Abrahams cousins will appear on “Family Feud” on Friday and next Monday, broadcast both days at noon on WPCH-TV (Channel 17).