Becoming a Game Show Contestant


Seeing Stars: Becoming a Star (for 15 Minutes)

The most important thing that a potential game show contestant can do is to watch the show! Producers don't have the time to teach would-be contestants the rules or how to play the game. They expect you to be prepared and ready to play when you walk through their door, and they will test you to find out if you know what you're doing. If you don't, you'll be quickly rejected.

So, before you try out for a show, watch it on TV!  Watch it every day. Videotape it if necessary. Make sure that you understand the rules and customs of the game. Practice and prepare.

If you're going to try out for "The Price Is Right" , for instance, try to memorize as many prices as you can, and be sure that you're familiar the show's individual games and try to master them (including putting a golf ball!).

If you want to go on "Jeopardy" , it isn't enough just to know everything, you've also got to be fast on that trigger-button and you must know how to wager wisely. Record the shows on your VCR and then use the remote control as a trigger-button to practice "buzzing in "; see if you can beat the other players to the punch. If the game moves too fast for you at first, pause the picture while you try to answer the questions. (But remember that you'll have to keep up with the other contestants if you make it onto the stage of the real "Jeopardy!")  Also keep track of your "winnings" for each show and see how you measure up to other contestants in terms of money won.

If you can find a home board-game version of your favorite game show, buy it and play it with your family and friends. Both Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune are both available as board games. You can also get a computer game version of Jeopardy.

A key rule to remember is that it's never as easy as it looks!

Sure, you might be able to ace your favorite game show when you're sitting in your easy chair, in front of your TV set in the comfort of your own home. But when you're standing in front of a live studio audience, under bright, hot lights, with a camera pointed in your face, and 10 million people watching your every move, the adrenaline starts flowing, and it's a whole other story.

It also helps if you can practice speaking in front of an audience, so you don't "freeze up" during the initial interview (or worse, during the show).

When you go in for the game show interview, be sure to "give the people what they want ": dress for success. Good grooming and a nice suit never hurt anyone's chances (and it goes without saying that you have to be sober). Be sure to speak up, producers hate it when people mumble or speak so softly that they can't be heard clearly.

If it's a silly show, such as "The Price Is Right," be sure to show a lot of enthusiasm - they want colorful, happy contestants who the viewers will like. If you're trying out for a more sedate show, like "Jeopardy," be friendly and outgoing, but try to maintain a reasonable sense of decorum. And no matter what show you try out for, be sure to smile! All producers love happy contestants who look like they're having a good time.

Game show producers love out-of-towners. Most of their contestants come from L.A., and the producers realize that these Los Angeles residents can always come back at some later date to be on the show - so they tend to take locals for granted. But they'll go out of their way to accommodate a visitor from another state so that they can get the widest representation of the nation at large. However, they won't pay your way out to Los Angeles, though; they won't buy you a plane ticket, or put you up in a hotel. Getting to L.A. is up to you. And if you are an out-of-towner, don't phone them collect; they simply won't accept collect calls. Also, don't assume that being disabled or physically impaired will disqualify you from a show; they will try their best to accommodate you.

Read the rules on the contestant application form when they give it to you. Study these rules, and stick to them. Otherwise, you could forfeit your winnings. (For instance, you have to be at least 18 years of age to appear on any game show.)

Remember that your game show winnings are taxed just like the rest of your income. If you accept cash or prizes, you'll have to pay taxes on whatever you take home.

The hard bottom line, though, is that most of the people who try out for game shows don't make it.

Out of 1,000 people who would like to appear on a game show, perhaps only 100 will get up the nerve to actually come in for the test and interview. Out of those 100 wannabes, fewer than ten will get past the initial tests & screening process, and perhaps only one or two will survive the interview process and be called back later. And even then, they may not actually make it onto the show: they sometimes call you in as only a "back-up " contestant, in case some other contestant gets sick and can't go on.

The truth is that there are far more people who want to be game show contestants than there are openings for such contestants - and only a select, lucky few ever make it in front of the cameras. But don't let that stop you. If you really want to be a game show contestant, go for it!

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