At the Jeopardy audition on Wednesday, I had made it through the 50-question paper test and was feeling pretty good. Most of the questions were surprisingly (dare I say?) easy, especially compared to the online test I had taken to qualify two months earlier. There were only a few that I left blank entirely, and of those, at least a couple of the answers rose immediately to mind on the train ride home (bah!)
Next came the mock game, complete with authentic Jeopardy buzzers, in which groups of three people at a time went through a very shortened version of a real game. It was here that I hoped to impress the producers with my enthusiasm, trivia prowess, and most importantly my LOUD SPEAKING VOICE, which from the number of times they asked people to speak up seemed to be at least 80% of what they were looking for in a contestant. Unfortunately, after my confidence with the written test, I had a sudden deer-in-the-headlights moment when the first few questions were read and I realized I knew none of the answers! How could I impress anyone standing there wide-eyed with my mouth agape? Thankfully, I picked up steam towards the end of the round, answering questions (correctly!) and selecting the next question to be read. It was also reassuring to me that almost every time I buzzed in I was called on, which I attributed to my lightning-fast thumb reflexes, honed over a decade of near-constant texting.
Next came the interview, where you presented yourself briefly and then responded to questions the producers asked you. It started out predictably enough: My name is Rachel, I'm a bookkeeper in DC, etc. Then, "Who do people say you look like, Rachel?" one of the producers asked me. My mind immediately went blank. I knew I was supposed to know the answer to this question, but just like in the mock game, the correct response suddenly eluded me. I scrambled, looking for an acceptable answer. Let's see, in high school someone once told me Celine Dion.... In Mythaca there was that guy who told me I looked like Lady Gaga, although I don't know how reliable the source was. Then there was the always classic Kathy Griffin comment, though I definitely wasn't going to share that one.
"Um, I don't know, different people..." I finally offered lamely. (Gooooooo personality!)
"Because I would say Kristen Wiig," the producer said.
And people, I freaking lost it. Gone was all pretense at professionalism and composure. Out came the valley girl speak and frantically flapping hands. "Ohmygod!" I said, my hands flying up to either side of my face à la Macaulay Caulkin in Home Alone. "I just got that!" Titters came from the audience behind me. Taking a deep breath, I steamrolled onward. "I mean, someone just told me that! Except I thought she meant Kristen Schaal, who is actually a completely different person, so...that was weird." I was relieved to see nods rather than blank stares coming from the judges' table. Thankfully these were L.A. types in the entertainment industry, which meant they knew of Kristen Schaal and at least got the gist of my semi-coherent babbling.
After a couple more questions, "Well, it was very nice to meet you, Rachel," the same producer told me with a smile. I smiled and thanked him back and spent the rest of the audition analyzing his closing words to the other contestants, and wondering if he actually meant it when he said it was very nice to meet me, and if so, to what degree.
Unfortunately, the way the audition process works is you leave knowing nothing of the results of your performance or your likelihood of making it on the show. So, I may or may not receive a call sometime in the next eighteen months inviting me to appear on the show. If eighteen months have passed and I've heard nothing, I am free to try out again. Whee! The absolute earliest I might hear something will be June, so fingers, toes, and anything else you can cross crossed, guys.
Now all I need to do is fill in the few, paltry gaps in my knowledge, which fall under the (very obscure and rarely-referenced, I'm sure) categories of all things a) historical, b) geographical, c) political, and d) sports-related. Basically, my only hope is if the categories happen to be something like: France, Literature, French Literature, Food, Poetry by Poets Rachel Likes, and Rhyme Time. Until then, I have somewhere between two and infinity months to prepare, so if you need me, I'll be studying.