The other day while I was watching Wheel of Fortune, there was an announcement that auditions for the show would be held this Saturday and Sunday in a city not too far from where I live. It started my thinking about my game show auditions from the past.
Since 2000, I have tried out for game shows about 12 times. I actually got on one called The Rich List and was a 3 time champion. I won quite a bit of money. The show was cancelled after one episode, and my tapings never aired. At first I was bummed, but then I thought, “Hey, I get to keep my anonymity”. No one is going to come up to me in the street and say, “Hey, you’re that guy who won all of that money on that game show. My kid needs an operation. Give me some money”.
The very first gameshow that I ever tried out for was Jeopardy. I was living in Las Vegas at the time. The Jeopardy Brain Bus was coming to town to conduct auditions, and my friend Laura convinced me that I should try out. It took some doing.
“I may do okay in those bar trivia games, but I am nowhere NEAR Jeopardy smart,” I told her.
She hounded me about it for a week. I finally gave in just to shut her up.
“Okay,” I said, “I’ll go”.
If you’ve ever tried out for Jeopardy via the Brain Bus, you know how it works. You stand in line for hours surrounded by eggheads who brag about how fabulously smart they are. I’ll never forget the guy who was in line behind me. He tapped my on the shoulder and handed me what looked like a page ripped out of an 8th grade science book from the Eisenhower era. On it was a chart of the Periodic Table of Elements. He wanted me to quiz him on it. Ugh!
When it’s your turn you are given a pencil and a ten question fill-in-the-blank test. I was seated next to the periodic table guy. The first question had something to do with Rutherford B. Hayes and his middle name. I got it right. I don’t remember all of the questions, but I knew them all, except one. I finished quickly. When you were finished you were supposed to stand up and someone would come grade your paper. I passed. YAY! They don’t tell you how many you can miss and pass ( I figure two). It’s some big Jeopardy secret or something.
After I passed that test I was given information on where to go the next day (the David Brenner showroom in the Westin Hotel) for the big 50 question test. Egads! I remember thinking,”I just passed that one test. Can’t I be on Jeopardy now”? Umm, no. That’s not how it works.
When I arrived the next day there were about 25 people already gathered outside of the showroom. They all looked super-smart. They were all busy doing something (reading, on the phone, chatting with each other). I didn’t want to appear out of place by just standing there staring into space, so I took out a list of phone numbers that I had in my wallet and pretended that I was reading something VERY important.
When it came time for the test someone opened the doors to the showroom and instructed us to grab a Jeopardy pen as we made our way in (I took about 15 of them).
We took whatever seat we wanted in the showroom. There had to be an empty seat between each person. There was about a 15 minute question and answer session. We were then given a blank piece of paper numbered 1 through 50, and instructed to write our name at the top.
There was a gigantic television screen at the front of the auditorium. When the first question popped up you had 8 seconds to write down the answer before the next question popped up. I knew the first 7, blanked out or didn’t know the next 5, knew the next 3 (cool, an Invisible Man question. I just finished reading that book), had no clue what they were talking about on THAT question, WTF, OMG how simple is that, 7 in a row AWESOME, ugh a sports question, and on and on and on.
After they finished grading the papers they announced the 12 people who passed (101 people took the test). My name wasn’t one of them.
I stayed depressed for about a week. I felt like one of those people who auditions for American Idol because they are continually told by their friends and family that they have a fantastic singing voice, only to be informed later by the AI judges, that they sound like a bullfrog.
I eventually got over it.
That one tryout had sparked my interest in game shows. After that, I tried out for every show that came to town and conducted auditions.
I have tried out for Who Wants To Be a Millionaire three times. The first two times I tried out I passed the test, but wasn’t selected for the show. On my third try, I passed the test, and received a postcard saying that I had been placed in the contestant pool. Being in the contestant pool was no guarantee that you would be selected for the show. I finally got a call about 3 months after I had taken the test, saying that I had been selected. They wanted me to be in New York in 3 weeks. The problem was that I had just done The Rich List and my contract prohibited me from being on another game show for one year. I mentioned this to the woman who had called me. She said she would check into it. She called me back two hours later, and told me that, even though The Rich List was cancelled and my episodes never aired, I was still bound by the contract. Bummer! The one time I get picked for the show, and I can’t do it.
I spent another week being depressed. Then I looked on the bright side. I probably won more money on The Rich List than I would have on Who Wants To Be a Millionaire. At least that’s what I tell myself.
With the exception of the yearly Jeopardy (which I STILL haven’t gotten on) online test I haven’t tried out for a game show in 4 years. Maybe I’ll go give this Wheel of Fortune thing a shot.