This… Is… Jeopardy!

Yes­ter­day after­noon, Veron­ica and I went to a tap­ing of the Jeop­ardy Col­lege Cham­pi­onship at UW’s Kohl Cen­ter. I’d been excited about Jeop­ardy com­ing to cam­pus since it was announced some­time last fall. I’d ini­tially hoped to audi­tion for the col­lege shows, but only under­grads are eli­gi­ble. Bah. Oh well, see­ing the show live was lots of fun, any­way. We attended the last of four tap­ings (con­ducted over the space of two days), so we got to see the two final games of the tour­na­ment. It was very inter­est­ing to see how a game show is filmed and how many peo­ple are involved in putting it on.

As we entered the arena, we were handed shiny Jeop­ardy pom-poms and tow­els to wave for the ben­e­fit of the cam­eras as we cheered. Once basi­cally every­one was seated (there were roughly 3500 peo­ple in atten­dance), we got to watch the con­tes­tants play a quick prac­tice round. Then the show’s 83-year-old announcer Johnny Gilbert took the stage and told us a bit about how the tap­ing would pro­ceed, what our cues to applaud were, and when to be quiet. He warned us that if any­one yelled out an answer, they’d have to stop tap­ing, dis­qual­ify the clue, and start again with a sub­sti­tute clue. Amaz­ingly, this never happened.

Our View of the Set

The shows them­selves were fun to watch, but the best part of the whole expe­ri­ence was the com­mer­cial breaks. Dur­ing these, Alex Tre­bek would wan­der the aisles, answer­ing ques­tions posed by audi­ence mem­bers and telling sto­ries. He’s really quite funny, and was obvi­ously play­ing to the col­lege audi­ence. When asked what he plans to do if he ever retires from the show, he started walk­ing back to the stage and replied “I’ve thought about found­ing a char­i­ta­ble orga­ni­za­tion of some sort, to try and do some good in the world.” Only when he’d almost reached his podium did he add “… or maybe I’ll just stay home and drink.”

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