I recently participated in the written audition
for said game show, partly out of curiosity, and partly out of a sick desire to get on the show (in the "hot seat" with Regis
) and subsequently be thrown off for insulting the audience members and decrying the mass entertainment spectacle
generally. Henceforth follows a brief summary of what transpired, so that anyone who finds the recruiters coming to their town won't have to waste three hours just to find out what goes on behind the scenes at the bottom level.
Part the first: The Waiting
I arrived at the line at around 4pm, and wound up being 37th in line for the 6pm audition. Since this affair was going on at the west end of the University of Arizona campus, I'd expected a fair number of others students to be in line, but my fellow linesmen were primarily middle-aged blokes, most without the common sense to bring some bottled water for a two-hour stay out in the sun and on the concrete in Tucson, AZ. I polished off Catch-22 and started The Jungle until the line started moving.
Part second: The Preparation
315 of us were filed into a room at the Marriott, and each given a piece of cardboard and a green "Who Wants to Be A Millionaire" pen. After we were seated and settled, a spunky, 20-something girl took the podium and explained what was going to happen. First, the disclaimer. No one who works for, or has an immediate family member who works for ABC, AT&T, Disney, blah blah blah is eligible. Somehow she managed to drag the essence of this sentence out for about five minutes. Next, an explanation of the audition procedure. We would shortly get a short multiple choice test, 35 questions, 12 minutes. When we finished, we would sit quietly until the time was up. Then the papers would all be graded, and those who answered above a certain cut-off line would progress to the next stage, which involved being interviewed by one of the WWTBAM employees. Those who passed the interview would be notified by snail mail that they'd been chosen to be in the pool of contestants a few weeks later, and then the WWTBAM execs would call people in the pool to appear on the show at their discretion. Once you appear on the show, you're removed from the pool, but you can get in the pool again by re-auditioning at a later date. Simple enough.
Part the third: The Questions
"Are there any questions at this point, before we hand the tests out?"
"So wait, once we get in the pool, then in a few weeks they'll mail us to appear on the show?"
"What happens if you get on the show, but you don't get into the hot seat?"
"How tall is Regis?"
"After you get on the show, and if you win any money, can you still get in the pool again?"
"What about calling in by phone to get on? Can we still do that, even once we're in the pool?"
"What do you mean by 'pool'?"
"What if you get in the pool, but then you get married to someone who does work for, say like, AT&T, before you get on the show?"
--"OK, wise-ass. If something like that happened, we'd deal with it on a case-by-case basis."
Part four: The Test
35 questions, four answers each, and about 20 required pop culture/mass entertainment knowledge that my lifestyle provides me no access to. Oh well, I thought, at least I got some reading done.
Part five: The Aftermath
"While we're waiting for the tests to be graded, let's have some fun. Who's good at impressions?"
The first part of the festivities involved four middle-aged, out of shape auditioners doing song-and-dance impressions of none other than Britney Spears. The best one got (wow!) a commemorative "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" T-shirt. Next, we watched (I most emphatically chose not to watch, instead carving the word "Millionaire" on my pen down to the word "lion") a promotional video for the show, and were instructed to scream and applaud whenever the audience on the show did so, for whoever was the loudest, would get a free (gasp!) "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" t-shirt. Then followed a freestyle impersonation contest for a T-shirt, and a joke-telling contest for a t-shirt. Finally (oh God, finally) the numbers of those who passed the test were called off, and the rest of us were told to leave.
I stole a couple dozen plastic Marriott cups on my way out. Could I do any less?