“Jeopardy!” — How it all began
(Originally published March 19, 2012)
My “Jeopardy!” episode will be airing in less than two days! Can’t wait — I plan to have a viewing party in downtown D.C.
Tonight, I watched the first episode that I got to see when I was in California for the taping. I was nervous just to watch it, but just like when I was on the show, once it began, I enjoyed it.
Before I start blogging in a few days about my actual game, I thought I’d write a little bit about the experience leading up to it, beginning with getting “The Call.”
It happened on a Monday afternoon. I was at home before work and actually missed it – I saw an unfamiliar area code on my cellphone, dialed my voicemail and heard Glenn, one of the contestant coordinators.
I called him back right away. He said they wanted to go over the information I had turned it at my audition (address, workplace, etc.). Once that was done, he told me I was invited to be on the show!
I mentioned that I had written an article for the Times Herald-Record about the “Jeopardy!”-playing computer Watson, thinking that might somehow disqualify me.
“I’m going to unplug that computer!” he said, jokingly. I laughed.
After going over a few more details (I would get at least $1,000 for coming in third, and I could expect a packet in the mail in a few weeks), we hung up.
I called my mom. She was very happy.
I texted my then-boyfriend (“TBF”). He wrote back, “WHOA!” before calling me. (There may have been more exclamation points.)
Once I got the aforementioned packet, I filled out all the legal information and faxed it back. I wrote that I knew two people (classmates from grad school) who worked for TV stations that showed “Jeopardy!” but did not know any former contestants.
Now it was time to start studying. I began keeping score using the Coryat method to see what areas I needed to brush up on. Turns out geography was one of my weak points.
I also began practicing like I was on the show, standing up during games and ringing in with a pen. I tried to time it just right so I wouldn’t buzz in before Alex finished reading the question.
And, I had to learn not to answer when I didn’t have any clue, like I was used to doing. (When you see me on TV, you can judge how well I managed to do at that!)
Over the next few weeks, I quickly realized there was no way I could ever learn everything I needed to know. I even wondered, at one point, if at age 30, I was too young for this.
But, then I heard somewhere that Brad Rutter, who took on Watson along with Ken Jennings, was only 24 when he started his rise to “Jeopardy!” superstardom, and I felt better.
So, I kept on plugging along, reading former champ Bob Harris’ “Prisoner of Trebekistan” and relishing his insider advice along with the hilarious recollections of past “Jeopardy!” champions who I remembered watching growing up. (Some of them are in the “Jeopardy!” Hall of Fame at the studio in Culver City, if you ever get a chance to visit.)
And, TBF quizzed me on Trivial Pursuit cards while I made flash cards from “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Shakespeare” and the World Almanac and played tons of Sporcle quizzes.
I told some church and Bible study friends, and they prayed I would have fun, above all else. The rest of my family had my back, too.
I booked my flight to L.A. and my room at the Doubletree Hotel (which has a special rate and shuttle for “Jeopardy!” contestants). And I planned what I would wear (never an easy task!).
I had California songs going through my head: Miley Cyrus, Phantom Planet, even Tupac.
No matter what happened, I was going to enjoy this and try to glorify God the best I could.