Wednesday, January 4, 2012
My Jeopardy! Journey - The Audition
It’s the morning of my audition, and I had to go to work. I presented at New Student Orientation on campus that morning (working in academic advising, being present at New Student Orientation is a must), so as soon as that presentation was over, I jumped in the car and headed to KC. I was tempted to listen to a book on my Kindle on the way there to get the brain going, but I opted to sing loudly to music on my iPod on the way there instead (to get my energy up). Funny looks from fellow motorists were abundant. I did this until I realized, “Oh crap, my voice is getting scratchy.”
I get to the Kansas City hotel where it was held pretty early. I go into the holding room to fill out the application with my brand new, swanky, Jeopardy! click pen (which looks just like my swanky Wheel of Fortune click pen that's now out of ink). Pretty standard fare – are you running for public office, have you ever been convicted of a felony, on what channel does the show air….crap. What are the call letters? I have no idea. “Topeka Affiliate.” That will have to do. Little did I know that my local cable company would stop broadcasting the “Topeka Affiliate” one week before my Jeopardy! debut (but again, more on that later). I’m one of the younger people in the room. The contestant coordinators (awesome folks, by the way) come in to take an instant picture of us – Fujifilm, not Polaroid. My picture was pretty sexy.
We are escorted to the official audition room, where Robert, one of the contestant coordinators, goes over the rules and gets us pumped up. I am now sufficiently pumped up, although some others were way more pumped up than me. Some people were trying way too hard to get the coordinators’ attention. They lead us through a mock game with everyone in the room participating by raising our hands. I was the very first person called on in the mock game, and after answering, was complimented on my voice and quickly choosing the next category.
After that, we start the fifty question test. A few times during the test, I made eye contact with one of the coordinators, and we smiled at each other. “Ooh, I know that one….wait, I know that one too…OMG…wow, I just studied that….oh crap.” Fifty questions later (sorry, I can’t reveal details of the questions – cheaters, scram!), I’m pretty confident I passed. The rumor on the internets is that 35/50 is a passing score. I definitely scored above 35. In fact, I think I scored anywhere between 39-41, which is pretty close to what I think I scored on the online test.
The coordinators go outside to grade the test, and people in the room start comparing answers. I felt bad because one guy realized he missed quite a few, and became sufficiently bummed. I realized I missed quite a few also, including making a stupid mistake on what might have been one of the easiest questions on the test. To my credit though, I did get some obscure questions that many in the room realized they missed.
After they come back in, the coordinators tell us they are going to call us up in groups of three to play a mock game, in no particular order. This is different than the way they used to do it. They used to cut some people after they graded the fifty question test. But now, they let everyone stay and play the second mock game. Again, I’m the VERY FIRST PERSON THEY CALL. Random? Maybe. For the record, I was in the first group at my Wheel audition, and that worked out pretty well. I’m jokingly introduced as the 47-day returning champion, I bow, and we start the game. I pick the first category, then after, the coordinator says, “that’s how you do it.” Did I just get complimented for a second time on my voice and gameplay? Holy crap. I get outbuzzed a few times, but get in a few times, and I get all my questions right. They start interviewing the three of us; I get some laughs from the coordinators and from the crowd, and then the other two get questions. In that moment, I felt like my interview was short, and it was definitely shorter than many others, but I think it went well, nonetheless. We take our seats and stay for the remainder of the audition, watching and supporting the others.
One guy was there for his sixth audition, about half were there for their second or third audition, and most of the younger people were there for the first time. The woman I played against in my mock game will definitely be on the show. She was interesting and camera ready. A few others will also definitely get on. They were funny and interesting. But that’s what makes it so tough – no one was outright bad. Although, one guy missed three questions in his mock game all in a row. He looked like he needed a hug.
Overall, I did all I could do, so it would now be in their hands. At this point, I'm in the contestant pool for eighteen months, so if I didn't get selected this time, I could start the audition process again in January 2013. Thousands of people audition each year for 400 spots, so the odds were against me. I had no idea if my being on Wheel would help me (“he’s camera ready….”) or hurt me (“let’s give others a chance…”). I could have had an amazing audition, but not get selected because there’s just not room for me.
At this point, I had two goals. Continue studying, but also try and go on with my life. Try being the operative word.
For part two (Preparing for the Audition): Preparing for the Audition
For part one (The Online Test): The Online Test