Sunday, January 9, 2011

I Was on Jeopardy, Part IV: More Exciting Green Room Action and Jeopardy Arcana (Yes one day I'll write a post about my actual shows)

Remember Quiz Show and the scandals from the 50s? Jeopardy takes the rules that came out of that very seriously. While you wait at the studio for your episode to tape you can only talk to other contestants or the wranglers, and except for the complimentary photo with Alex, there is definitely no Trebekian interaction except for what you see on screen. In the studio audience, even though Mark, Lila, and Brendan were literally across the aisle from me as I waited to be called for my episode, we were not allowed to speak to each other. In fact, guests were told there would be trouble if they even smiled at us! (You can see the studio and the audience here. The contestants waiting to play sit in the far left quadrant.)

After each game you're rounded up and sent back to the green room. Since you're basically sequestered upon arriving at 8 a.m., you get to know your fellow contestants fairly well. There's even more camaraderie among the people playing the last games of the day just by virtue of being around these people longer. I'm now Facebook friends with the guy I beat and the guy who beat me (and it's been fun chatting with them since our games). I was a bit dismayed though that my fellow contestants were on the young side, even compared to me, since the two Jeopardy champions who have won the most moolah (Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings) were 25 and 30 when they won. I find it interesting that there were so many youngsters at my taping, yet at my tryout there were, in my estimation, only 4 of us out of 21 who were under 40.

My week of contestants. Squint and you can see me on the far left of the second row. They're all young whippersnappers!

That's me!

The wranglers are also really fun and supportive and come over to you during the commercial breaks of your game to keep your spirits up (and also to make sure everyone's buzzers work). In fact, my friend April who was on Jeopardy in 1999 told me that she was so nervous she considered leaving but didn't want to let the wranglers down.

After the Wednesday game is taped, the contestants are rounded up again and shuffled over to the Sony Cafeteria. I spotted the two ladies from the Clue Crew there and went up to one of them and said, "You're with the Clue Crew!" (I'm so lame.) I overspent the $10 Jeopardy lunch budget by $2 (first I went up to the counter and realized I had only spent $6 so I went back to get soup), and the Jeopardy lawyer had to cover me. Oops.

Some other interesting tidbits you might not know about Jeopardy:

I noticed after the final game for the week that the rack of clothes in the green room still was full. Apparently, people leave their extra changes of clothes there all the time and don't ask to have them returned. I was astounded because I would think you'd wear your best clothes (suits for the gents, especially) to Jeopardy and that you'd make some effort to get them back.

The after game chat with Alex is choreographed in terms of where each person stands on the stage. The champion is always farthest from Alex.

After each episode is taped there's a random draw (the contestants names are written on notecards and shuffled) to determine the players for the next show, taped thirty minutes later. There are always two locals in the contestant pool for the week. One plays that day and the other is assured a spot in the Monday - Wednesday games of the next day of taping. Ari, who beat me on Friday's show, was one of the two locals. (Why couldn't I have gotten the laid back musician guy? He mysteriously didn't play the following week so I don't know if he was any good but he didn't seem to have the killer Jeopardy instinct.)

(Picture found online of some random dude.) I poked around to see what exactly was behind the white diamond wall "fence" on the side. Answer: lights.

The commercial breaks are just as long in the studio. During the first break Alex has pictures taken with the two new competitors. During the other breaks Alex takes questions from the audience. Our friend Brendan raised his hand and Alex addressed him as "the curly-haired fellow," a description that excited Brendan. Most of the questions were pretty dumb. My favorite was from a high school age girl:

Girl: Are you and Pat Sajak best friends?
Alex: We're friends. I wouldn't say best friends.
Girl: Do you ever have dinner together?
Alex: Actually, we did have dinner the other night...
Girl (gleeful): At his house?
Alex: Uh, no... At a fundraiser.

Not best friends, okay?
I got this picture from a website where people voted on who would win in a brawl. Trebek had 76% of the votes.

During my games I missed the part where Alex took questions from the audience, but apparently announcer Johnny Gilbert talked about the episode where Ken Jennings lost. "A lady beat him!"

In the morning you get to play a practice game to get a feel for the buzzer, and everyone (with two exceptions but I didn't get to play them - d'oh!) was pretty darn good. I had no idea who the dominant players would be, and it's pretty intimidating because you realize that it's pretty much a toss-up as to who would be the eventual winners. But besides that, the practice game was a whole lot of fun! When it ended I just wanted to keep playing!

Outside an entrance to the set

I was afraid to send this photo out before the episode aired for fear that you Oliver Stone types would Zapruder the photo and realize I was wearing my Friday taping outfit instead of Thursday's. (Yeah, that's right. I'm making Zapruder into a verb.)

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