So, “Jeopardy!” invited me to a contestant audition…

Back in February, I participated in an on-line tryout for the television quiz show, “Jeopardy!” and thought that I did pretty well. It was a fifty-question test, and there was very limited time to answer each question before the next one popped up. I figured that I did just about as well as the other time I went through the audition process. That was back in 2004. I made it “all the way” that time and was in their contestant pool while Ken Jennings was winning his 75 shows in a row (and hurting my chances by not allowing the show to turn over a new champion every few days). They never called me, although I did see a few people from the group I tested with on the show. At that time, they told us, “you’ll be in our files for about 16 months; if we don’t call you within that time, you’ll have to try out again.”

So, I’ve been “bitter” all these years (ha ha) yet spent the time “constructively” by sitting in multiple bars that run the Buzztime Trivia network, taking on all comers – usually with success. In that time I’ve neglected or ignored opportunities for the online tryouts – at least until this year. Sony Television is very secretive about their testing process too, not telling you how many of the fifty questions you need to get right to be eligible, only saying that more people pass the test than they have room for at their auditions and basically,”don’t call us, we’ll call you.” In other words, by passing the online test, you’re still in a “lottery” to possibly get an audition, just one that has a hat with fewer names in it. So, I figured I would never hear from them…

BUT, a couple weeks ago I got an email inviting me to an in-person audition in Lexington, Kentucky next month. So, I will be sacrificing a vacation day to drive the three-ish hours to see if I can get into an even smaller hat with even fewer names in it. I’m excited and nervous both. I’d love to get on the show and win some “big money,” but the shows I’ve been watching lately have been a little discouraging. Well, except for last Thursday, which I would have absolutely crushed, lol. All the reading I’ve done over the years has really helped my “trivia skills” as has having a very wide range of interests. The fifty question test I took on line, had roughly 20% literary-related questions. I’ll paste the list below (warning: including answers) the fold, If you’re curious. Wish me luck!

SCI-FI MOVIES: “The 2009 Film “District 9” dealt with the plight of extraterrestrial refugees in this country. Answer: South Africa.


HOW’S THE WEATHER?: “Condition characterized by winds above 32mph and heavy snow” Answer: Blizzard.


LATIN AMERICAN HISTORY: In 1821 Panama broke away from Spain and became a province of this South American country. Answer: Colombia.

MEMOIRS: “Decision Points” is a 2010 nonfiction bestseller by this famous American. Answer: George W Bush.


GAMES: “One of the world’s oldest games, it’s also known as draughts. Answer: Checkers.


RELIGION: “You’ll find this Iranian religion named for its founder in the last few pages of your dictionary.” Answer: Zoroastrianism.


WORD UP: “Appropriately, this word comes from Greek words meaning “sharp” and “dull.” Answer: Oxymoron.


BRITISH ROYALTY: Born in Hanover, the first king of this name was also the first kind from the House of Hanover. Answer: George.


SAINTS: First and last name of the philosopher who wrote “Summa Theologica” – it helps if you know he was born near Aquino. Answer: Thomas Aquinas.

POLITICS: On January 5, 2011 Nancy Pelosi relinquished this symbolic object to John Boehner. Answer: Speaker’s gavel.


BEASTLY EXPRESSIONS: In other words, “a deluge of tabbies and borzois.” Answer: raining cats and dogs.


LITERARY TERMS: It’s the term for a stanza or poem containing 4 lines. Answer: Quatrain.

CONQUERORS: This Mongol conqueror born in 1162 was said to be descended from a gray wolf. Answer: Genghis Khan


FOREIGN FOOD TERMS: If you’re being served pommes frites in Paris, you’re about to enjoy this alliterative food. Answer: French Fries.


TRAGEDIANS: The big 3 founders of ancient Greek tragedy are Aeschylus, Euripedes, and him. Answer; Sophocles.


COMPUTER TERMINOLOGY: A D-O-S attack, short for denial of ‘this,’ floods a network with requests, denying access to others. Answer: Service.


POETS: This author created the Ancient Mariner. Answer: Coleridge.


THE FINAL FRONTIER: This 12-ton object rode inside the space shuttle Discovery until released April 24, 1990. Answer: Hubble Telescope.

FAST FOOD: The name of this restaurant means “crazy chicken” in Spanish. Answer: Pollo Loco.


THE NEW TESTAMENT: In a parable, this son is the young man who wastes his fortune but comes home and repents. Answer: Prodigal Son.


LEGENDARY RHYME TIME: Bunyan’s Southern accents.  Answer: Paul’s drawls.


AMERICANA: The Statue of Liberty contains a poem by this woman. Answer: Emma Lazarus


20TH CENTURY NOVELS: Stephen Dedalus and Leopol and Molly Bloom are the main character of this James Joyce work. Answer: Ulysses.


THE OLYMPICS: Before the first Winter Games in 1924, this sport was played in the Summer Games; Canada won gold in 1920. Answer: Ice hockey.


AWARDS: The Order of Leopold is the oldest and highest honor given by this country. Answer: Belgium.


ANCIENT PLACES: Kathleen Kenyon excavated this town, trying to find out when the Israelites destroyed its walls. Answer: Jericho.


THAT’S SO CLICHE: To depart in defeat is to leave “with your tail” here. Answer: between your legs.


US LAKES AND RIVERS: The Willamette River of Oregon flows northward for about 190 miles before emptying into this river. Answer: Columbia.


AD MEN: Baltimore’s Ray lewis appears atop a giant raven in humorous ads for this cologne. Answer: Old Spice.


U.S. HISTORY: In the 1840s, the Creek, Chicasaw, Seminole, Choctaw, and Cherokee Indians were forcibly moved to this future state. Answer: Oklahoma.


ART ATTACK: Created by Braque and Picasso, this influential art movement of the early 20th century had an Analytic and a Synthetic period. Answer: Cubism.


WORLD AUTHORS “Works by this Algerian-born Nobel Prize winner include “The Fall,” “The Rebel,” and “The Stranger” Answer: Albert Calmus


STRAIT AHEAD: “20 miles long and 2-10 miles wide, the Strait of ‘this’ separates Italy from Sicily. Answer: Strait of Messina.


IT WAS ALL YELLOW: “This flower of genus Taraxacum has leaves that are used in salads and roots that are made into a coffee-like drink.” Answer: Dandelion.


CLASSICAL CLASSICS: “This impressionist composer changed modern music with works like “La Mer” and “Claire de Lune” Answer: Claude de Bussy.


CANADIAN GEOGRAPHY: “Regina is the capital of this province.” Answer: Saskatchewan.


MUSICIANS’ NICKNAMES: Better known nickname of jazz bandleader Ferdinand Joseph Morton. Answer: Jelly Roll.


MODERN NOVELISTS: He’s the creator of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency. Answer: Alexander McCall Smith.


THE NOBEL PRIZES: It’s the newest of the 6 Nobel Prize categories, having been first awarded in 1969. Answer: Economics


THE BRITISH ISLES: In the 11th c. Lady Godiva famously rode naked through this central English city. Answer: Coventry.


SO VERY ANIMATED: Nancy Cartwright is over 40 years older than this animated boy that she voices. Answer: Bart Simpson.


ERAS: The Luddites were fighting against this “Revolution” that began about 1760 in England. Answer: Industrial Revolution.


LORD OF THE DANCE: He choreographed the films … and … and “All That Jazz.” Answer: Bob Fosse.


EYE ON ASIA: This kindgom of Asia border Laos, Burma, and Cambodia. Answer: Thailand.


IT’S AN ANIMAL, SUCKER: Gastropods like snails, bivalves like clams, and cephalopods like squid are all part of this phylum. Answer: Mollusks.


ANIMALS IN LITERATURE: Hazel and Fiver are 2 of the fluffy rabbits in this 1972 Richard Adams novel: Watership Down

CHEMISTRY: For the effect it produces, nitrous oxide is also called this. Answer: laughing gas.


ACTRESSES: She’s the only Swedish-born actress to win 3 Oscars. Answer: Ingrid Bergman.


FEMALE AUTHORS: “A Room of One’s Own” is a feminist classic from this Brit. Answer: Virginia Wolfe. Erg.


“M” WORDS: Meaning to put someone into a trance, it comes from the name of an 18th century physician. Answer: Mesmerize.


  1. Tom said,

    June 27, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    Fingers crossed! What fantastic news!!


    • Jay said,

      June 29, 2011 at 10:59 am

      Thanks Tom! I’ll be putting all that Wabash College knowledge to good use I hope…


  2. Kathy Sauceda said,

    June 27, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    Great News, be sure to post right away when you’re finished.


  3. Stacey S said,

    June 27, 2011 at 7:39 pm

    You don’t need it, but Good Luck Jay!!


    • Dale Barthauer said,

      June 27, 2011 at 8:08 pm

      Congratulations, Jay! Keep us posted as to how it goes!


    • Jay said,

      June 29, 2011 at 11:00 am

      Thanks Stacey. If I get on the show and win, you can always just tell everybody, “Oh, him? Yeah, I beat him twice in one day in Buzztime trivia. And all his smart family too!” 🙂


  4. Alex said,

    June 28, 2011 at 4:54 am

    Good luck! If you’re ever in Brussels, please let me know and you can join our team for Monday-night pub quiz. We’ve been going for almost 4 years now.

    I hate missing a lit questions and last night I did: what was the name of the main character in Dr Zhivago? I only remembered it ended in a “i”…

    Yes, let us know how you do!


    • Jay said,

      June 29, 2011 at 11:02 am

      Thanks Alex. I will definitely take you up on that if I ever cross the ocean…

      The Zhivago question took me a moment too. At first I thought “Yuri. No, wait, that’s his son’s name…” confusing the scene on the train when they’re looking out the grate and Zhivago says, “Look, Sasha, the Urals!” (confusing Yuri & Urals… ugh. Hope I don’t do that on camera… ) 🙂


  5. Ann Marie said,

    June 28, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    Jay, I think you incorrectly answered the questions by using the wrong format. All the answers should have been in the “what is . . .” form. Tsk tsk . . 🙂


    • Jay said,

      June 29, 2011 at 11:03 am

      They specifically say “you don’t have to answer in the form of a question” for the on-line test. It was hard not to, though. 🙂


  6. Jillian ♣ said,

    June 28, 2011 at 11:13 pm

    That’s really cool!! Congrats! 😀


    • Jay said,

      June 29, 2011 at 11:04 am

      Thanks Jillian! I don’t know if you read through all the questions from the online tryout in the post, but your blog name was part of one. I may have been able to make a correct educated guess before, but as a reader of your blog I knew that one 100%…


  7. June 29, 2011 at 8:21 am

    Wow – that’s amazing! Best of luck!


    • Jay said,

      June 29, 2011 at 11:05 am

      Thanks EB&C! I will try to uphold the honor of book bloggers everywhere! 🙂


  8. July 5, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    Wow, what an awesome opportunity! Good luck!


  9. Megan said,

    July 6, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    Hey, that’s great! I loved the in-person audition, even though I never got called to be on the show. If nothing else, it’s a fun day! You’ll have to let us know how you do!

    Also, just because I’m feeling saucy today, I have to point out that you’re wrong about Ken Jennings reducing your chances of getting on the show by limiting the number of new people. Since they changed the rules, the champion got to stay on as long as he/she kept winning, as Ken ably displayed. That means that every single show would have one returning champion and two new players. Occasionally, if there was a first place tie, you’d get two returning champions and one new player. But Ken being on so long did nothing but prevent other people named Ken from getting on. Even once he lost, the next game still had a returning champion and two new players. He just wasn’t the champion that time.

    In the old format, where the champ could only win 5 games and then got the boot, that meant that in the case of a 5-time champ, you’d have a game with three new players and no returning champ. But since they got rid of that rule, it didn’t matter how long a champion kept winning, you always had one returning champ and two new guys.

    And now that I’ve belabored my point, I’m going to stop talking.


    • Jay said,

      July 7, 2011 at 5:56 am

      Yikes! You sure are right. I guess I owe Ken Jennings an apology for all those years of bitterness…:-) I guess this means I have to go back to blaming my lack of personal charisma and lack of physical attractiveness for their failing to call me, lol…

      Geez, now I hope they don’t have any math/logic questions like this at the audition. 🙂

      Thanks for being saucy!



  10. JaneGS said,

    July 6, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    Best wishes getting through the interview and onto the show. I love how you used your time constructively since your last attempt 🙂

    Those were not easy questions, btw. I like to fantasize that I would do amazingly well on Jeapardy, but I then I read those questions and reality rears its head.

    Good luck!


  11. Jay said,

    July 7, 2011 at 6:02 am

    Thanks, Jane, I appreciate that.

    I confess that going to the bars and playing Buzztime trivia would still be part of my routine whether a Jeopardy! appearance was a possibility or not. 🙂

    I took the online test the first day of a three day period where they offered them. There is some luck involved too, as later I looked at the questions for the other day’s tests and this one was the best suited for me. I likely would not have passed the others.



  12. brittany220 said,

    July 9, 2011 at 11:05 pm

    Hi Jay I saw your site from comments on Susan’s Quiet blog. Cool, I didn’t know they had tryouts or tests to get on Jeopardy! Good luck!


    • Jay said,

      July 10, 2011 at 9:19 am

      Thanks Brittany! And thanks for stopping by my blog. I like your blog too; I’ve been working on a similar project for about 15 years now… 🙂


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