Thursday, February 09, 2006


I have a notoriously poor sense of direction, and the 405 is also known as "the world's longest parking lot", so I figured I'd better leave plenty early for my Jeopardy audition. Traffic wasn't too bad until I got about five miles away, and then it snarled up, but I still got to the Culver City Radisson with 2 hours to spare.

So I went in the restaurant and had a nice Angus burger and fries, and then I sat in the lobby and read The Life of Pi until 3:20, at which point I headed over to the meeting room with the big Jeopardy sign pinned to the door. The coordinators handed me a form to fill out and a nifty Jeopardy pen, which found its way into my purse as soon as I was done with it. Then they took a Polaroid of me, which came out muy shitty, and asked me to go inside and sit down.

Eventually, when everyone had been duly photographed and turned in their paperwork, one of the producers introduced herself and explained the procedure: first a written test, followed by a mock game and brief personality interview.

Okay, I thought, taking a deep breath. You can do this.

The written test consisted of 50 questions which ranged from fairly easy ("This Irish band's breakout album was titled Boy") to insanely hard ("This James Joyce short story ends in a snowy graveyard"). We only had about ten seconds to jot down our answers, so I did the best I could.

Next up, we got to play a mock game. They called up groups of three, gave them buzzers, and directed their attention to the game board on the screen. The producer warned that we could only click our buzzers when the question had finished; our cue would be a yellow light going on at the side of the screen. I was in the next-to-last group (along with, of all people, Roseanne Barr's first ex-husband, Bill Pentland) and these are the questions I got right (paraphrased from memory).

Category: The World of Spam

A: Spam's name comes from these two words.
Q: What is spiced ham?

Category: French 101

A: This item's French name, parapluie, literally means "against the rain".
Q: What is an umbrella?

Category: Sports

A: This religious term refers to a football play made in sheer desperation.
Q: What is a Hail Mary?

(And no, I never would have gotten that right 2 years ago!)

Category: Before & After

A: Former lead singer of Van Halen teams up with comic strip Viking.
Q: Who is Sammy Hagar the Horrible?

(This one took forever to answer.)

Finally, it was time for the interview. I stood up straight and smiled nervously. My mouth was so dry that my lips stuck to my teeth, and for the first time, I understood why beauty queens slick their teeth with Vaseline.

"My gawd, look at those dimples!" the producer cooed in her New Yawk accent. "Gawd, how adorable."

I resisted the urge to scuff my toe in the dirt.

"So, [C]. It says here that you once ate earwax-flavored jellybeans on a dare?"

"Yes, I sure did."

"What was that all about?"

"Well, I had purchased a box of Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, which are inspired by the Harry Potter books. In addition to normal flavors, they have some truly disgusting ones, like dirt, sardines, and earwax. A friend of mine dared me to try all of them, so I did, with the exception of one flavor."

"My kids had a box of those. Let me guess, you wouldn't try the vomit-flavored one?"

"Nope. Banana."

Explosive laughter. I relaxed a little.

"What would you do if you won a lot of money on the show, hon?"

"My boyfriend G is the one who convinced me to try out, and he's a huge New York Giants fan, so I'd buy him season tickets, and of course I'd have to get him plane tickets too!"

"That's great. What about for yourself?"

"It's my dream to visit Japan during every one of the seasons, and I've already been there during fall and spring, so now I want to go in the summer and the winter. In the more practical category, I need a new car, and there's always bills to be paid."

"Anything else?"

"Well, the Playstation 3 comes out soon."

The table of producers smiled at me. "Thanks so much, hon," the woman said, and I thanked them and sat back down.

Once everyone had participated in the mock game and been interviewed, they told us that the people who passed would be put in their files for a full year, and if we didn't hear anything during that time, we were welcome to try out again. They cautioned us to keep them updated on any changes in address or phone number, and then they thanked us and sent us on our merry way.

So there you have it. No matter what happens, I had a great time (traffic back notwithstanding) and I got a truly bitchin' pen.