Archive for April, 2008

April 13, 2008

You dont even get a lousy copy of our home game!

We attended a Jeopardy! College Championship taping on Friday night. I’ve been scanning the local media sites for anyone else in bloggerland who checked this out and have found surprisingly little. There were certainly plenty of folks on hand to watch Friday’s tapings. We had VIP tickets so the ushers seated us on the floor in folding chairs. The upper bleachers were filled mostly with the non-VIP folks (aka college kids) many of whom held up Jeopardy-themed signs. Upon entering the arena, the men were presented with Jeopardy! sweat towels and the women were given Jeopardy! pom-poms which we were instructed to pump in the air during the commercial intros and outros. We sat and gawked at the huge stage that was stuck in the middle of the Kohl Center. The set was constructed from parts of campus buildings which, since I didn’t attend school here, I didn’t recognize (though I did figure out that the sort of U-shaped archways were from the Memorial Union.)

The contestants got huge cheers as they were herded out and a member of the “Clue Crew” talked to the crowd and ran a fake round of questions to get the players used to the buttons in their booths and being on camera. Then Johnny Gilbert, the Jeopardy! announcer, came out to schmooze us and explain to us that the microphones on the audience are so sensitive that if we even whisper the answers to the questions on the show, they’ll have to stop taping and nobody wants that to happen. Then Alex Trebek came out and they started the first game. (Part of me was hoping he was going to fly in across the crowd and slide down a pole to his booth, but no such luck. He just strolled out and went to work.)

The show is filmed in real time, so during the breaks Alex wandered through the audience and took questions. He was asked many things: what happened to his mustache (“I shaved it off”), his favorite animal (“The muskox”), would he like to play Rock Band with the Math Club after the show (“No”) as well as some that led him on tangents about his life. Someone asked him if he had tried much Wisconsin cheese and when mentioned California cheese the crowd booed. He then declared that response to be “undignified” and lectured us on how you can always say something nice about your competition and still fully support your side of things. When it was time to get back on stage for the next section, he made fun of the tech person who was following him around, no doubt because he knew the audience would eat it up. Alex seemed pretty much unflappable in every part of his performance.

The UW Cheerleaders were in the audience to help us along when it was time to get crazy with the applause. Bucky Badger was there, of course, egging folks on and jumping up and down. He was seated in the front row and, as they cut to the long shot of the whole set before the commercial, he leapt up from his seat and his huge head poked right into frame, accidentally obscuring Alex and the players. The producers grabbed the badger and moved him back a few rows to attempt to contain the excitement (and to not have to re-shoot too much). I’ve never made it to a sporting event here in Madison but after watching the Jeopardy! taping I sort of get the idea of what they’re all about.