University of Wisconsin students filled the Memorial Union Great Hall Thursday afternoon trying to qualify to be a contestant on “Jeopardy!”
The “Jeopardy!” Brain Bus event will ultimately find one student from UW who may have the chance to play in the “Jeopardy!” College Championships being held at the Kohl Center next Friday and Saturday, April 11 and 12, according to Jeff Ritter, “Jeopardy!” senior publicist.
“I’ve watched ‘College Jeopardy!’ before, and every time I watched them I’d think, ‘Wow, I could totally do this better than these guys,'” said Joe Alfuth, UW sophomore and “Jeopardy!” hopeful. “I would kick myself if I didn’t [try]. I mean ‘Jeopardy!’ is on campus.”
Students first weaved through ropes on one side of the Great Hall, and when a seat at the testing tables opened up a Brain Bus worker signaled them to fill in.
“I really like trivia, but I don’t think my odds are that good,” said Lindsay Broughel, a UW senior.
Broughel and others arrived as early as 9:30 a.m. to get in line for the event, which began at 11 a.m.
Each student who passed the 10-question test was invited back to take a 50-question test at 2:30 p.m. during a private auditioning session.
“[The test] was similar to the questions that you see on ‘Jeopardy!,’ but it was slightly scaled down, I thought,” said Maureen Mulher, who passed the first test.
According to “Jeopardy!” producer Rocky Schmidt, students who pass the 50-question test will play a mock game.
“A lot of people can take a test, but they freeze on their feet in front of people,” Schmidt said. “You have to be able to do both on ‘Jeopardy!'”
Ritter said they expected about 100 to 150 students to return at 2:30 for the second test.
Students who are successful move on to a final interview with the producers so they can make sure the person is someone the audience wants to cheer for, Schmidt added.
Jon Cannon and Kelly Miyahara, members of the Clue Crew, hosted a mock “Jeopardy!” game during the Brain Bus event for any student to play while others were taking the test.
“It’s great to be able to meet the loyal fans,” said Miyahara, who has been working with the Clue Crew for almost three years.
The Clue Crew is made up of five people who travel across the country in teams doing Brain Bus events as well as filming video clues used on the show.
“Wherever Alex Trebek can’t be, the Clue Crew is,” Miyahara said. “We like to say we bring the clues to life.”
Many of the students with dreams of being a “Jeopardy!” contestant said they watch the show often.
“Everyone on our floor pretty much watches every day,” said Ben Meyer, a UW freshman living in Bradley Hall.
The random test questions ranged from world cities to composers, and several students anticipated them to be difficult.
“We practiced last week [playing] ‘Jeopardy!’ on PlayStation. It’s nerdy, but fun,” said Ben Biesterveld, a UW freshman, who, when asked why was trying out, said, “I love Alex Trebek.”
Although Trebek was not present, “Jeopardy!” T-shirts, hats, mugs, water bottles and pens were among some of the items given away to attendees.
Brain Bus workers also gave away free tickets to the sold-out tapings at the Kohl Center to people waiting in line to take the test.
The tapings will air nationally May 5-16.