I am reposting an old Geocities blog story because someone brought it up on facebook. It’s not really travel related, unless you’re coming to Los Angeles to be on a gameshow, but it’s a good story. I have the episode on videotape somewhere.
I was a contestant on “Win Ben Stein’s Money”.
I won some (although not all) of Ben Stein’s Money!
Here is the recounting of my game show experience:
I’ve never been on a game show before, or even tried out for one. I grew up watching gameshows, first the daytime ones with my grandmothers (The Price Is Right, Truth or Consequences and Jeopardy) and then afternoon (Match Game) and evening ones (Beat The Clock, The Joker’s Wild, Hollywood Squares, Name That Tune and the new Jeopardy) as I grew up.
I’ve been a fan of Ben Stein’s since before his appearance in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” and often read his articles in Penthouse while I was growing up (yes I read the articles). So when Comedy Central gave him a game show with “Jimmy The Sports Guy from KROQ” as his sidekick I had to watch.
In case you’ve never seen the show, it’s a “hip Jeopardy for the gen-x generation” although it appeals to intellectual types of all sexes, races and ages. Ben Stein is the host and Jimmy Kimmel is the sidekick and co-host. The show is broken down into three rounds: the first, three contestants compete to answer questions, the player with the lowest score at the end of the round is eliminated; the second, two contestants and Ben Stein (who now becomes a player) compete and the player with the lowest score is eliminated; and the third and final round is the “BEST OF TEN TEST OF KNOWLEDGE” where the remaining contestant competes against Ben, both are asked the same ten questions and the highest score wins. If the player beats Ben he wins $5000.
So the procedure for getting on the show:
1. visit http://www.futility.com and get the number to call to be a contestant.
2. Call and leave your info on the hotline.
3. Wait a while.
4. Be ready because they’ll call when you least expect it and give you a ten question quiz (and it’s not easy) on the phone.
5. If you pass the phone quiz you’ll be invited down to KTLA and there you’ll be given a thirty question written test.
6. Then they’ll explain the procedure for you and if you pass the written test, you get to stay and audition for the game by playing in front of the contestant reviewers.
7. Wait a while.
8. If you’re right for the show, they’ll call you and let you know that you’ve made the “contestant pool” and you’ll be asked to tape sometime in the near future.
9. Wait a while.
10. Eventually they’ll call you with a taping date and send you a contestant information packet in the mail.
11. Wait a while.
12. When your taping date arrives they ask you to arrive at KTLA at 11:15am and be prepared to go until 7pm because they tape three or four shows a day when they tape.
I arrived at 11:15 on my taping day (after having to reschedule once and then being rescheduled once because Jimmy had decided to leave the show) and we waited until a little after 11:30 on the curb at the guardshack to walk to the stage. We were taken upstairs to the green room and filled out paperwork (rules, waiver, release and W-2). They reviewed the rules with us and explained the procedure for the game (including the rules in case of a tie or a technical problem). The we sat and waited.
They came in a picked the first three to play and the rest of us waited and watched the game on closed circuit tv. They were taping four shows on my taping day so there were thirteen people and the contestant coordinators in close quarters for a while. The first three contestants taped the first show. When they came to pick the next three, they picked me to play against a guy about my age and an older woman
We were miked with radio microphones, the contestant wrangler walked us down to the set, the audience was loaded in from the first taping, and the stage manager gave us instructions. We got to test the buzzers and then we waited for Ben to come down to the set. When he arrived he greeted us, his competitors and wished us luck. Because of Jimmy’s sudden departure from the show, they have a new co-host/sidekick a sexy and funny woman named Nancy…but she was still learning the game and the workings of the show (it was only her third day!) so it was a little rough. She reviewed our intros and we were ready to go.
I did well in the first round and was in the lead when it ended. In the second round Ben smoked both me and the older woman, but because I was in the lead I won and got to face Ben in the final round. I let Ben go first and he scored a four. The ten questions were hard. But I too scored a four and tied Ben!
During the second and third round I had a nice conversation with Ben about his writing and the show. After I tied him, Ben congratulated me and thanked me for wishing him good luck (he told me that it was “very sportsmanlike”).
The show will air next season, sometime after April. I get paid 120 days after it airs…so I’ll see the money next summer.
All in all I had a great time! I spent about eight hours total between the audition and the taping, met Ben Stein, made it to the final round and went head-to-head with him, tied him and won some of his money! Not bad for a day’s work!
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They gave all the contestants a t-shirt and I got to keep my question and answer card
(the scribbles are Nancy Pimental’s notes for asking the questions):