Wednesday, October 20, 2004

...My Fifteen Minutes (Almost)

So I tried out for a game show about two years ago."The All-New Scrabble". Not to be confused with the old Chuck Woolery-hosted "Scrabble" game show from the 80s that bore no resemblance to the actual Scrabble board game.

My incentive to try out was two-fold. First, I live only an hour or so away from Los Angeles and figure you have to take advantage of the unique opportunities living in this area provides you. Second, I had just started my own business and was living on practically zero income at the time. A nice influx of cash would have come in real handy. I was actually disappointed to learn the grand prize was a brand-new, shiny Ford Expedition, though I guess I could have sold it and ended up with the same result.

I passed the initial written test they give you that is supposed to weed out the complete dumbshits. Believe it or not, it was pretty hard. Half the test was answering obscure trivia, the other half was solving word puzzles. Apparently the way “The All-New Scrabble” works is you earn your Scrabble tiles by correctly answering trivia questions, hence the format of the test. Supposedly they make the test so difficult for a reason - the theory goes that when you’re on camera and under pressure you’re going to lose about half your brain power due to nerves anyway, so it probably helps to have a decent amount to spare. I can’t tell you how glad I am that I passed. I don’t think my very fragile ego could have handled the humiliation of performing the Walk of Shame out of the room had I not.

Next was the mock game mode where all of us remaining hopefuls were pit against one another in a pretend game to see how we’d fare. Like father, like son, I guess. Years ago my dad, who is a certified Really Smart Guy (member of Mensa, graduated from high school @ 16, is a very good guy to have on your team when playing Trivial Pursuit) flew down to L.A. to try out for "Jeopardy". Their test is *really* hard. Of a group of about 50-100 people, my dad was one of only about six to pass.

This is the part where he choked. Not only did he have a difficult time mastering the art of ringing in at the proper time; he failed to prepare himself with an “Interesting Tidbit“ to share during the “Get to Know Our Contestants” portion of the show. The best he could come up with was that he participated in Rotisserie Baseball.

His other problem was that he, like me, is of the “show our excitement on the inside” variety of people. Stoic. Even on a subdued show like “Jeopardy” he was deemed too unenthusiastic and was constantly being reminded that he needed to appear more animated. Despite the moral victory of making it to the final round of the Contestant Search, he never did make it to the show.

Having had an extremely brief (as in one night) career as a professional wrestling play-by-play announcer, I thought for sure my “Interesting Tidbit” was unique and interesting enough to ensure my spot on the show. Except they didn’t ask me about that. All they asked is what I did for a living. I figured having just started my own business was fairly interesting as far as careers go, but I guess that goes under the heading of “Stuff That is Interesting Only to Me”. Apparently working in the audio-visual-technology-systems-integration industry isn’t all that fascinating to the rest of the world.

Also, did I ever mention my lack of hand/eye coordination? Or, more appropriately, brain/hand coordination? I knew the answer to every question that was asked during my mock game, but unfortunately so did the very bubbly young woman I was competing against. I successfully rang in only once during the entire game. All I remember is that the answer was “Origami”. I don’t remember the question. Once you answered your question correctly and earned your tiles, you had something like 30 seconds to make your move on the Scrabble board. Did I mention I’m not great under pressure? I’m usually a fairly decent Scrabble player, but I’m the type that takes a long time between moves. Given the short amount of time to play and with too many anxious eyes planted on me, all I could think of was to add an “s” to the end of a word already on the board to make it plural.

I think this may have sealed my fate. The producer temporarily stopped our game to use my move as an example for the rest of the group. An example of how moronic it was. How, like in the Scrabble board game, you are allowed to do fancy moves like combine letters to where you are actually spelling two words at once (horizontally and vertically), a move I had missed, and how doing so might make for a far more exciting game than just adding “s”’s to existing words.

Like my dad, I never did get a callback. But, then again, to date I haven’t seen “The All-New Scrabble” on the air yet. So I still check the answering machine messages pretty regularly.
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