The Jeopardy! Adventure

Yes! We were finally in the Jeopardy! audience after years of wanting to see the show in person..

We’ve watched Jeopardy! with Alex Trebek probably since he became host in 1984. These days, most nights we watch it as we’re having dinner. So going to a taping of the show has been on our bucket list for years.

Even though our older daughter went to Occidental College, we never made it to a taping during her four years there, mainly because when we visited she was either moving in or out of a dorm or the Women’s Center.

This summer Jake and I agreed that the time had come, so we got tickets (they’re free) and went down for the morning taping of three shows. There was an afternoon taping of the two addition shows to make up a week’s worth, but we opted not to stay for it. And a good thing we didn’t. We were overwhelmed by the time the morning taping was done.

Here are some quick highlights of our visit:

  • The air dates for the three shows we saw are Mon., Oct. 14 through Wed., Oct. 16. I’m sitting in the front row on the far right side as you face Alex and the contestants. Jake is sitting behind me. I don’t know if we’ll be on camera or not.
  • The crowd of waiting audience members was a motley crew to say the least. There were older folks dressed up in their Sunday best; tourist types in shorts and sandals; people with bright, colorful tattoos,multi-color hairdos, and multiple piercings; a family with kids even though the audience rules said no kids; people speaking a variety of languages; one woman with a walker; a Japanese family who sat in my row (the father, an older man, kept falling asleep!); all in all, pretty much a cross-section of mostly California and some other states thrown in. One woman was dressed like she’d come straight from the airport in Burlington, VT. (Our daughter Sarah knows what I mean, so if you need a translation, ask her.)
  • We were divided into three groups: general audience members; friends and family of the production; and friends and family of contestants. The last group were constantly given the admonition NOT to talk to the contestants when they saw them. We were seated in our respective groups. As a handicapped person with a companion, Jake and I were seated with the second group, not with the general audience. What that meant was that when Host Alex Trebek talked to the audience during what would be viewed as commercial breaks when the shows aired, he was usually standing in front of their part of the audience.” Although that wasn’t a big deal, it did mean that when the camera panned the audience, I don’t think we were ever in the shots.
  • Host Alex Trebek isn’t doing as well as he recapped at the end of the last season. He said he’s done with chemo but has started a new regime of gene therapy. He might make an announcement about that when the new season begins. He looks thinner, and he walks slower. After he miscued a contestant that it was his turn to start, Alex commented that his vision had completely changed, almost overnight. As a result, he couldn’t see the director’s signal for which contestant to cue. But Alex seems to be a trouper, if nothing else, and the show went on with only a few glitches.
  • During the commercial breaks, Alex also did voice-over retakes either at the request of the producer or at his own volition. Most of the time the changes were of inflection to put emphasis more firmly on keywords or to give more variation so the answers didn’t sound so monotone. After doing that, Alex would walk to the edge of the stage area and take questions from the audience. (More about the questions in another blog.) Alex also took individual photos with the contestants during the breaks, but other than that had little contact with the contestants, who were being prepped by their handlers.
  • Announcer Johnny Gilbert wasn’t there at our morning taping. Turns out he does all the announcing of contestants and the “Here’s the host of Jeopardy!” speeches in the afternoon, so we missed out on seeing him. Sarah of the Clue Crew did the Johnny parts, and Johnny dubs them during the breaks in the afternoon.
  • Three shows is a LOT of shows to tape/watch/see in one morning. The Wednesday letdown that Jake and I have commented about over the years is real. The audience isn’t as enthusiastic—even though there are a number of personnel around as cheerleaders—nor are the contestants as perky whether they’ve won or not. Everyone is ready for the lunch break when it’s called.
  • If the morning taping we saw is any indication, we might be in store for another BIG winner like James Holzhauer or Ken Jennings. We’ll see. The winner we saw was VERY good. I hope he aced the afternoon as well.
  • I got to chat with Jimmy McGuire of the Clue Crew almost exclusively during one break. That was a bonus and really fun. He’s just as charming, cute, and fun in person as he seems on TV. I learned some interesting Jeopardy! facts from him about the Clue Crew and he hinted that he’s going on a secret Jeopardy!-related trip soon. He and Sarah were there “entertaining” and cheerleading during the breaks when Alex wasn’t answering audience questions.
  • No one in the audience could take any photos of the set. There was a facsimile of Alex’s podium, a standup cutout of Alex, and a mock contestants’ desk that audience members could use for photos during breaks. But as far as I could tell there wasn’t really enough time to use them and be back for the taping.

In the next blog, I’ll walk through the audience experience from the minute we arrived at the parking garage to when we left.

As they say in TV, stay tuned.

(Oh, yes, and unlike TV, leave a message if you’d like! Have you ever gone to a TV show taping? If so, which one? What was it like? I’d like to hear your experience too!)

5 thoughts on “The Jeopardy! Adventure”

  1. Sounds wonderful, but draining. I figures they did several shows a day. We went to Jay Leno once, and even though I wasn’t a big “Tonight Show” person, it was a lot of fun. He was charming and funny. I can’t wait to read the rest of your commentary on your adventure. (and wise choice to leave after 3 shows)

  2. What a COOL thing you and Jake did. I am green(ish) with envy, as it does sound like a draining experience to a certain extent, but talk about memories and conversation starters! I’m looking forward to …the rest of the story…

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