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York College Faculty Member to appear on 'Jeopardy!'

January 24, 2018
Nicholas Anspach Jeopardy
Nicolas Anspach brushes up on his trivia ahead of his taping of 'Jeopardy!'

York College faculty member, Nicolas Anspach of the History and Political Science Department, will travel to Los Angeles next month to film for the gameshow classic, 'Jeopardy!'. Anspach describes the process and experience thus far:

"It's been a long process. Each year, the show administers a timed online test as an open contestant search. I took mine almost 2 years ago (January or February 2016). If you get enough questions correct on that test, you're apparently entered into a lottery. If you're chosen from the lottery, the show invites you to an in-person audition which are held in major cities across the country. 

My in-person audition was in June 2016 in New York. It's a fun experience. There were about 20 other Jeopardy hopefuls at my audition. Everyone is really bright, kind of awkward, and more than a little nervous. The in-person audition basically consists of two parts: a timed 50-question quiz and a mock game. The quiz is pretty difficult; I'd say on par with a $1000 clue on the show. They don't tell you how many you need correct in order to qualify, but rumor is that it's somewhere around 35. 

After the test, they bring people up in groups of 3 to play the mock game, complete with a board and a buzzer. They film this portion of the audition, and the point is less to see whether you can answer the questions correctly, and more to see whether you're telegenic enough to be on the show. They even do a little interview with you at this stage, similar to what you see on the show following the first commercial break.

After the mock game, they tell everyone the same thing: we're in the candidate pool for 18 months and if we don't hear from them after that time, we're free to audition again. It was very much a "Don't call us, we'll call you," sort of message. I left the audition feeling I had done well enough to qualify for the show (I spent the rest of the week going over the test in my head), but as the months wore on, my hopes dimmed. By the time I got the call a couple weeks ago, I had written off my chances.

So now, I'm studying. Certain topics come up a lot on Jeopardy -- Presidents, US geography, world capitals, Shakespeare, etc, so I've made a ridiculous amount of flashcards to brush up on certain topics. I film on Feb. 14th out in LA. Jeopardy tapes 5 shows a day, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. I know my episode will air the week of June 11, but I won't know the exact date until I know which of those 5 games I play on the 14th. 

There's just so much to experience out there, and I find it all endlessly fascinating. Learning trivial facts is no substitute for experiencing the real thing, of course, but I'll never visit the world's coldest capital ("What is Ulaanbataar?") or get to chat with Europe's longest-reigning monarch ("Who was Louis XIV?"), so trivia is my own little way to understand the world better."

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