We’re all Jeopardy champions on our sofas, but once you leave the family room, it gets a lot harder.
A couple of months ago, I took Jeopardy’s online test. And when I say “I,” I mean the three of us, Andrew, Hannah and me. The first answer was about the reality series, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. I’m happy to report that I didn’t get it right, and a little sad to report that Hannah did. Every fifteen seconds there was a new question. When we had sweated through fifty of them, the automated test thanked me and that was that: no score, no ranking, no nothing.
When I subsequently got email inviting me to audition in person, I assumed it was spam; the email did not come from Jeopardy. A little sleuthing uncovered that SPE is the domain for Sony Pictures Entertainment, the owners of Jeopardy. The invitation was legit. On the appointed day, I hied myself to the Sheraton in downtown Boston. I had considered pulling Hannah out of school to back me up, but they were quite clear — guests were not allowed. I was on my own.
There were about twenty-five would-be contestants there, several from out of state. One had flown from Colorado, another from North Carolina. One woman drove down from Burlington, Vermont. Several of them were auditioning for the second, third, and even fourth time. None of them were obvious egg-heads, although there were some whose lack of fashion sense indicated a strong cerebral bent.
First we took another fifty question test. I was only able to answer thirty-four, and of those I now know I got several wrong. We were asked not to talk about the questions used at the audition, so I can’t give you examples, but if you get the opportunity to audition some day, I suggest you buff up on opera and potatoes. We also participated in an abbreviated game complete with buzzers. I knew several answers, really. I just couldn’t retrieve them in time, and I think my buzzer was broken, and…
I may not be able to beat Watson, or even the homemaker from Burlington, Vermont, but I could ace the interview. We had to supply a few interesting anecdotes about ourselves that Alex could use if we were on the show. We trotted them out for the mock interview. The Jeopardy road crew was wowed by the fact that I had interviewed Barack Obama and played pinball with Ray Davies of The Kinks.
Despite my poor showing, I will be in the pool of potential contestants for the next eighteen months. While I would love to be able to play the game for real, I’d sacrifice that opportunity if one day there is an answer on Jeopardy to which the question is, “Who is Judy Mintz?”