Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Ken's Jeopardy Adventure

Short version:

The weekend before last, the Jeopardy contestant search was in Charlottesville, and I took the contestant test on a whim. I qualified!

Long version:

I'm one of those people who watches Jeopardy and shouts out the correct answers all the time, so when the Jeopardy contestant search came to town I thought "what the heck," and went to try out. They were set up on Saturday at a local auto dealership. I walked in, sat down, and they handed me a 10-question test. Easy stuff, and I sailed right through in a couple of minutes. Handed it over to the guy running the test, he glanced at it and handed me a couple of sheets of paper.

"You did great -- come back tomorrow tomorrow to the Omni Hotel downtown at 11:30."

"What? I've got a race in Richmond in the morning."

"What kind of race?"

"A duathlon."

"Is that some kind of shooting race or something?"

"No. Run, bike, run. Kind of like a triathlon, only drier."

"Can you win money there?"

"Me? No, I'm not a pro."

"You can win money on Jeopardy -- you'll do well -- try to make it."

So, there I was on Saturday night -- not only getting my gear ready for the race, but packing a sports coat, shirt, and tie (the test invite for Sunday said to come dressed as you would if you were on TV). If I got the race done in about 2:30 and drove straight back, I might make it to the hotel by 11:30.

Race over, I hustled back to my car and hit the highway, zooming up I-64 back to Charlottesville. A quick change of clothes at a rest area and a dab of deodorant, and there I was, at the hotel at 11:25. A crowd of about 125 or so of us was ushered into a ballroom and sat down at tables. After a quick intro, and a video from Alex Trebeck, we took a 50 question written test. Eight seconds for each question, then on to the next. Pretty easy stuff, mainly. The tests were taken up to be graded, and a young lady on the Jeopardy crew took questions from the audience. Amazing how many people want to know what Alex Trebek is like in person.

Here comes the big moment. They start reading out names -- I've made the cut! The losers are ushered out, and the 20-25 survivors gather at the front of the room. A few forms to fill out, and a quick sample game and interview (our screen test, in effect) and I'm done.

Now the wait -- I'm in the contestant pool for 18 months. If they call me, I fly out to LA and give it a shot in person. No guarantees I'll actually make it onto the show, but I'm already starting to study -- I think I'll brush up on Shakespeare first.

- Ken

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