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The wait is finally over: this week, yours truly appears on that most revered of game shows, Jeopardy! Fun time kicks off on Thursday! You can read my FAQ here, or about the audition process here, but what I want to talk about right now is what it was actually like to go on the show and let you in on my day as a Jeopardy! Contestant. So, here we go.
I awoke early on Tuesday, March 11 at the Sheraton Four Points, Culver City. It was sometime before 5, and mainly because I couldn’t sleep anymore. The nerves were killing me, you see. After getting cleaned and straightened for the day, I headed down to the hotel lobby with a cup of oatmeal and protein bar in hand in search of coffee. While eating, several other people began hanging around and chatting. They too were conspicuously dressed; too well for normal work but just right for television. It was them. The other contestants had arrived.
Now, there’s no danger of me being picked as the most social guy in any given room, so I approached cautiously, not wanting to exude an air of gamesmanship or intimidation. A brief round of introductions revealed the identities of the various attendees – Ben, (a television producer) Nathan, (a restauranteur) and Morgan (an MD) were all there to compete as well. Soon, a series of black SUVs pulled up and we were whisked off to Sony Pictures Studios in the middle of a driving rainstorm. Yes, it was raining heavily. In Los Angeles.
We pulled up inside the studio and were greeted by a strange sight: A late-model Winnebago… with bullet holes in the door! (Yes, this was Walter White’s rolling meth lab from “Breaking Bad.”) We moved on from that glimpse of television infamy to Studio 11, home of Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune, where we were greeted by the contestant coordinators, Glenn, Laurie, and Corina. The coordinators ushered us through the doors at Studio 11 and into the contestant’s room, where we went over our accumulated paperwork, set up our clothing choices for taping, and took turns in the makeup chair.
A brief hush fell over the assembled in waves as it was learned that the reigning, two-day champion Jesse turned out to be among us. So much for “no gamesmanship or intimidation.”
Without much delay, we were then taken from the contestant’s room out to the Jeopardy set to play some practice games. As the coordinators moved around the group, you could begin to catch the cadence of Clue Crew Member Jimmy’s voice as he read out clues and ring in. Once you’d done a bit of that, the contestants would rotate and then it was time to record Hometown Howdies (promotional materials for your in-market TV station) and solo publicity photos.
This entire process – arriving, paperwork, makeup, and practice games – consumed about three or more hours, meaning it was now approaching ten o’clock… and we the contestants were all gathered into the audience whereupon Glenn announced who the first two challengers of the day would be: Ben and Megan. The challengers retreated to the contestant’s room to be wired for sound and final makeup, and places were called. The familiar Jeopardy Theme is piped into the studio and they were off, with Champ Jesse at podium 1…
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So, we all laughed about that ridiculous gaffe at the end and it was on to Game 2 with new Challengers Tiffany and Jackie, who went on to <Aaaagh! Throttled by lawyers…>
Game 3 featured new challengers Nathan and Rachel, and you know the drill: I can’t tell you what happened or Sony will send a juris doctorate after me… but I can tell you that we broke for lunch after game 3 and retreated to the very nice commissary, where we were treated to lunch on Jeopardy’s dime and chatted with the coordinators and remaining challengers.
It was then that Glenn told me I was on deck for the Thursday show, along with Michelle (a voting rights attorney.)
To hear the exciting conclusion of this tale, you’ll have to tune in next time, when we discuss the outcome of the show and what happened afterward!Published in