Friday, April 11, 2008

In Booming Johnny Gilbert Voice: This is Jeopardy!

"Are you ready to make some television?"

I was a kid in a candy a flippin' candy factory.

The Jeopardy College Championship is shooting in Madison this weekend and I attended tonight's taping.

My friends Adam, Liz and I arrived at around 6 and because we had VIP tickets (Thanks Adam!) we were routed around the extremely long line and into the Kohl Center. We were told to turn our phones entirely off ( not silent, not vibrate, OFF!) androuted through a security screen. It was almost worse than the airport because there weren't posted signs telling you what to do. There were bottle necks everywhere. We made it through and got to the VIP holding line. After 10-12 minutes we were ushered into the arena.

The Kohl Center was outfitted with a gorgeous set that looked like a traditional college building, complete with porticos, ivy and trees. The Badgers play basketball and hockey in the Kohl Center but you'd never know. Red and white drapes covered seats, boxes, and the jumbotron. You could hardly tell where you were.

The contestants did a rehearsal round to get used to the lights and microphones then Johnny Gilbert came out. Johnny Gilbert is officially my new favorite TV personality. He has sparkly jackets, does game show announcements and is old as hell. Johnny was the announcer on Price is Right...before Bob Barker. He also narrated the action on Supermarket Sweep (a fact he hid until we'd been there for 90 minutes) and he worked on the Dinah Shore Show. Yes, that Dinah Shore. The one born in 1916.

Anyway, Jonny warmed up the crowd and told us about when to be quiet and when to go nuts. Unfortunetely, there were some drunkies in the upper tier who missed the announcements. They cheered everytime the student from Wisconsin got a question right. Loved the enthusiasm, hated the crowd noise.

The show was great, just like you see on TV. Instead of commercial breaks, Alex Trebek would come into the audience for a few minutes and answer questions from the crowd. Too bad no one had good questions. My favorites were the ones when Alex cut lose. He's a pretty funny guy. Very long winded and kind of introspective for a game show host, but I bet he'd be a fun grandpa.

Anyway. These were actual interactions:

Audience Member: How do you stay so fit?
Trebek: Drugs

Audience Member: (Yelling!) You da man!
Trebek: How do you know I'm the man? The surgery must have been a success.

So we saw two shows tonight. We clapped, we laughed, we cheered and we reveled in just how old Johnny Gilbert really is. You can't really improve on that.

The College Championship episodes start on May 5th.


Kathy said...

I just stumbled into your blog...that's hilarious, I would have loved to Alex do a little bantering. Good stuff!!