I got another chance to try out for "Jeopardy!" (I tried out in October 2006 in Atlanta after taking the online test.)
This audition was May 31 in Washington. Jake and I drove up the day before, on Saturday. We parked the car at the Metro station in Franconia-Springfield and took the Metro into Washington. We visited the Newseum, which was not open in 2008 when we visited during Jake's spring break. The building has striking views of the Capitol. The photo at right shows Jake on the concourse. The weather was beautiful that day, too.Jake and I enjoyed the exhibits, but we didn't try our hand at being a TV reporter. (Jake was the anchor for the morning news in his high school, so he has experience in reading the news.)
We had to go back out to Franconia to get our bags and check into the Capital Hilton, which was just across the street from the St. Regis, where the "Jeopardy!" audition was to be held. The Hilton's rate was pretty good for a hotel right off K Street. Of course, we couldn't afford to eat there. As Jake noticed right away, a glass of orange juice on the room service menu was $7.
We had planned to visit the newly renovated Smithsonian Museum of American History, but I realized that a folder with papers I needed for the audition were still in the car. To get a new printout from my computer would have cost more than the subway ride for the two of us, so off we went back out to the Franconia station. We did stop at Crystal City and Pentagon City to eat, and Jake bought a souvenir Washington Nationals cap, so the trip wasn't a total time killer. Still, I wish I had not been forgetful. Jake does like to ride the Metro, but even he had his fill that day.
The audition was at 9 a.m. Sunday. I dressed in a pantsuit (dark plum -- or maybe aubergine) and walked over about 8:40. (Jake walked with me and said goodbye in the lobby.) Contestant coordinators Maggie and Corina were there to greet those of us trying out. We filled out an application and Maggie took Polaroids of us. (Yes, as Maggie noted, they are still using that old technology.)
At 9, we filed into the conference room where we sat at tables of three seats each. I went for the front table on the left. There were about 20 people in the tryout. Maggie introduced herself and put everyone at ease by being funny and enthusiastic. She reminded us that we were there for a GAME SHOW, so we should have fun. She talked a little about the game and what we'd be doing for the next couple of hours.
First, we had to take a 50-question test that ranged across various categories. The answers appeared on the screen with a member of the Clue Crew reading them. We merely had to write down the main word; in other words, we didn't not have to phrase it in the form of a question. We had 8 seconds to answer each question. I knew a lot of the answers. There were maybe 5 or 6 that I flat didn't know. Once we finished, Maggie and Corina graded the tests. They didn't tell any of us how we did, so I have no idea if I had a good score or not. I think I got at least 40 right and probably more, but I could be deluding myself.
Then we played the mock game, three of us at a time. We stood at the front before a table with Maggie, Corina and Keith (another staff member), and held the signaling devices just like the ones on the show. I was first in my group, so I chose first. I can't remember much about the questions I gave (we DID have to answer with questions in the mock game.) I couldn't say anyway because we were urged not to give away anything about the test or the mock game answers. As Maggie put it, we'd just be helping our possible future competitors! We played a few minutes. I certainly held my own against two much younger, very smart competitors. (I will say that one answer I missed really made me want to slap my head!) I was enthusiastic and tried to speak up. I tried to be quick in answering and choosing the next category. After we set down our signaling devices, Maggie interviewed us.
Everyone got a chance to play, so I have a good idea of the other folks in the room. Everyone was smart and quick, and many of them had interesting things to say during their interviews.
Maggie and Corina said the show looks for contestants who do well on the test and are enthusiastic players during the mock game. Beyond that, the show's producers want people from a variety of backgrounds and places across the country. I figure that if they are looking for an over-50 woman from the South, I have a chance to get on. From what I have seen, the show takes people of all shapes and sizes. Maggie noted that lawyers, teachers and librarians are quite well-represented; journalists seem to be, too.
We finished up about 11:30 and I was still smiling and enjoying myself right up until the end. Maggie said we'd be on the list of possible contestants for 18 months from the date of the audition. She said they call about three weeks ahead of the show date, so people can arrange air travel and time off work. Contestants have to pay their own way to California and their own expenses (the show has a hotel that offers a special rate). But if you are a winner at the end of a taping, the show will pick up your air fare to come back for the next taping. But even if you are called to California, you might not get on the show. It just depends on how the play goes. Here is a Contestants FAQ from the Web site.
Even if I never get called, though, I loved trying out!!