Game Show Number Two – The Big Time
IN AN EFFORT TO FULFILL my citizenship requirements in California I applied to become a contestant on Jeopardy – or as they insist on calling it “Jeopardy!”
The tryout for the show is a two-parter. First you take a written test of about 60 questions – with a ten minute time limit. Not multiple choice, you have to know the answers. The day I took the test, in LA, on the Jeopardy! set, I was one of about 80 people scribbling madly. There were a lot of tweed jackets with elbow patches there.
Of the 80 postulants only 12 of us passed the test. They never told us where the pass/fail line fell. None of the tweed jackets made the cut.
The lucky dozen were then subjected to an interview to make sure that we were not freaking nuts or mutes. Passing that, we then played a mock game to see how we operated under pressure and that we were not likely to faint dead away when the lights came on. It seems that actually happened on the show once and required that they stop taping, drag the body off, and start over. They hate that.
At the end of the audition we were all told that we either will, or won’t, be called to be on the show. I got called.
They tape five shows in one day, so a week’s worth of hopefuls are herded around by vigilant production staffers whose job is to keep us pure and unsullied by contact with anyone who might be slipping us answers. If you need to go empty a nervous bladder you are escorted to a private potty.
I got onto the fourth taping of the day and, to cut to the chase, I didn’t win. I blew the Final Jeopardy answer/question – it was about baseball and I’m so ashamed.
The victor was a dweeb who called himself a “journalist” but who worked for a shopping news coupon rag in Iowa. HE DELIVERED THEM. Yeah – a journalist. He was also a five-time Jeopardy! champion. Go figure. He had a savant’s memory, but couldn’t get his shoes on the right feet.
But I’m not bitter.
I didn’t win. I walked away with my head bowed and a fine selection of “lovely parting gifts.” I was handed a long list of prizes and I had to check off which items I wanted and which I did not. All prizes were considered as taxable income. I took the vacuum cleaner (we needed a new one), the his and her wristwatches, and a nice camera. I also selected, just out of curiosity, the “Year’s Supply of Boil-in-a-Bag Rice.” It turns out that it was a fistful of coupons and not a truckload of sacks of rice.
Over the years the memories of my turn on Jeopardy! have faded a bit, but one thing that will never fade is the image of Alex Trebek, smiling and chatting with us, standing there in his elevator shoes. Oh, well, that’s his business – the cute little guy.
Tomorrow: Game Show Number Three – Gimme the money.