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.
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.”