Tuesday, May 27, 2008

My Jeopardy! Audition

As most of you probably know I auditioned for Jeopardy! on Monday. I had a blast and I think I did really well.

On the train to the audition I noticed the subway car I was in had the same number as my ATM code. I took that as a good omen.

The auditions were at three P.M. in the basement of a hotel in midtown Manhattan. We had to fill out an application form and pick up an answer sheet for our written test. I think there were about 19 people, some from as far away as Pennsylvania and Connecticut. It was a very quiet bunch. Just before three the Contestant Co-ordinators came out and started firing us up and took Polaroids of all of us. They did a great job of entertaining us, keeping us excited and teaching us the rules of Jeopardy!. They had been doing contestant auditions all weekend and I have no idea how they kept up their enthusiasm and seeming spontaneity. I could never do that job.

Once we were seated in the conference room we got an introduction to the process including a videotaped welcome from Alex Trebek and a discussion of the rules from the Clue Crew, they gave a way a couple of mugs and then we all had to tell Meg, who I guess you could call the MC, where we were from. She forgot me and one of the other co-ordinators pointed that out and she sat down on the back of my chair put her arm around my shoulder and said, "Can you ever forgive me?". She was freakishly outgoing and did an amazing job. After this part we took the test, which is confidential, but I think I did well on it. I kept track of how many I didn't know I knew and there were only about 15 of the 50 and I think I successfully guessed a good chunk of those.

After that there was a long period while Meg told Jeopardy stories and told us about the buzzer. I think they were grading our tests or going over our applications during this. The next part was playing the game with actual buzzers. They didn't keep score and just wanted to see how we were playing the game. Meg kept telling us to smile, talk loudly, keep the game moving and answer in the form of a question. To my shock I was the first person called. Let me tell you those questions are a lot harder when you're standing up in front of a crowd. But the hardest part was the buzzer. I'd read the buzzer was the key to Jeopardy! and they weren't kidding. I knew the answer to the first few questions but couldn't get in on time even though I was waiting for the signal light like they told me too. I figured out I needed to buzz in during the split-second after the question was over but before the light came on. After that I got a few questions. Then we put our buzzers down. I thought this would be a short question and answer like on the show but it was a full five minutes of questions! That was a lot more terrifying than the quiz. I think I did well, I was very enthusiastic, spoke up and had answers ready for the questions. I got good laughs for my jokes about all the junk mail I make and how women are "not at their best" during labor. The Co-ordinators kept smiling and nodding and encouraging my answers and making me feel at ease. Oddly, the woman next to me was a big INXS band and saw them opening for Adam Ant in 1983. I burst out, "I saw that tour, too!"

What surprised me was how many people wouldn't do what the Co-ordinators asked like pick a category right after they had answered a question or didn't have answers prepared in the interview for the questions they asked everybody like "What do you do for fun?" or "What are you going to do with the money if you win?" even when they were in one of the later groups.

So, I had a great time and I have my fingers crossed I'll make the show. If you have any questions I can answer them in the comments.


Marc Siry said...

Wait... do we have to ask the questions in the form of an answer? I think I'm already confused.

Seriously, congrats on the audition, hopefully I'll be playing along with you at home soon!

buppa said...

Good luck! All of Ohio will be pulling for you. New Hampshire and Mass. too!