Have a seat, I’m going to tell you a story about auditioning for a game show. SPOILER ALERT: It’s awesome!
Back in March, the bass in my barbershop quartet (yep, that’s a thing, read all about it here or here), invited me to audition for a game show called Celebrity Name Game. I had never heard of the show, but why would you turn down something like that? What a neat experience opportunity!
She submitted our application and we received an invitation to audition. Alright! They indicated that they would not provide the address or other details until 24 hours before the audition. How very 007 of them. Does it comes with a secret handshake?
Hurdle #1: Since I’ve never seen the show, I needed to do my homework. So I started looking at clips on YouTube. This show is hilarious! Basically, you are trying to get your partner to guess a celebrity name using pop culture references or other clues. For example, let’s say you and I are playing and I give you the clue: Blonde actress/comedian, was the main star of Park & Recreation.” You would say…? Amy Poehler, that’s correct! The trick is to get your partner to guess as many of these in 30-45 seconds as possible. So it can get a little frantic.
Also, you and your partner are teamed up with a celebrity. Mario Lopez has been on the show multiple times. I can’t decide if that would be the best or the worst. I mean, apparently he’s great at this game, but I might not hear a word he’s saying because I’ll be staring at those adorable dimples. (swoon)
Hurdle #2: getting to Burbank in the afternoon/evening AND finding parking. Hmmm. We were afraid that we would hit massive traffic, because, let’s be honest, anything remotely near LA is awful. As soon as I discovered I’d be taking the 210, I felt the familiar sense of resignation come over me…(heavy sigh)
We met at a halfway point, and carpooled into Burbank. With the maze of freeway connections in the LA that we rarely travel, we did end up taking a wrong turn, but we were so early we had plenty of time to correct our course.
Once we found the building, the next step was finding a parking space. Now, a lot of places in LA can be downright bamboozling to park. Like this place, for instance.Go ahead, tell me when you think I’m allowed to park there…
Thank goodness, there was only one sign to worry about where we were trying to park. In fact, we were so surprised that we thought we’d missed a sign. It couldn’t possibly be as straightforward as “No parking between 3am and 5am,” could it?
So…now we’re over an hour early. What to do. I took out my cell phone and we started practicing by playing Heads Up. It’s a free app you can download and play in pairs or large groups. I’ve seen people playing it to pass the time in line at Disneyland. It’s pretty fun. Thankfully this app has a “Superstars” category, which makes it almost exactly like the game show. We played a few rounds, going over which ones we missed and how to fix that if it ever comes up.
Then it was time to get in line. The casting director comes out and explains to us that the whole point of being on a game show is to be interesting. We need to smile, have energy, and a great personality. To determine if we have this, we get 30 seconds to talk to one of the producers, then move into the main room.
Basically all you have time to do is introduce yourselves, say how you and your partner met, and maybe they’ll ask a follow up question. That room was incredibly loud. Since people were trying to prove they all had energy, apparently that meant SHOUT AT THE PRODUCER.
After everyone is seated in the other room, they announced the first wave of cuts. Wow. Thirty seconds of introductions and they can already tell you’re too boring to put on the show…hmmm. Well, at least WE made it!
Next, one of the staff members explained how to fill out the basic paperwork. He was *incredibly* condescending. He believes that if he doesn’t walk us through the paperwork one line at a time, we’re going to screw it up. For example, one of the lines was labeled “Partner.” He explained, “I don’t care who you’re sleeping with. Should you put your boyfriend’s name? Well, did you bring him today? If not, don’t put his name. One of you will inevitably write it down anyway.” (giant eyeroll directed at the crowd)
After that, a pop culture quiz. This quiz isn’t designed to weed anyone out. They want to know what sort of references the group as a whole understands. The asked us which children’s show featured Ms. Frizzle and her class, who the golden bear of golfing is, and which gorilla first learned American Sign Language. I had no idea about that last one, so I left it blank.
Finally, it was time to play the game. Or so we think…The casting producer spent the next 20 minutes explaining how the game works and what they’re looking for in a contestant. Ok, NOW we get to play the game. As various partners got up and gave each other clues, it was immediately apparent which ones are interesting to watch and which ones aren’t.
Some people try to overdo it with the energy and are just jumping around and yelling. Others are so boring it made me wonder what prompted them to try out for a game show. As we approached 2 the 1/2 hour mark, my partner and I got our chance.
“How do you know each other?”
“We sing in a barbershop quartet together.”
[pause] “I haven’t heard that one before…”
Just before we start to play the game, she asked “Oh I’m supposed to ask you, do you have to wear uniforms in that group?” Haha, uniforms.
“Well, yes, we wear sparkly costumes.” Uh-oh. If we get on the show, are they going to make us wear the costume??
We did pretty well at the game itself; made people laugh and got the answers right. In fact, my favorite part was when I gave my partner the clue “a rapper, half a dollar.”
Her response: “Fifty ce…oh!! Fitty Cent” I’m not sure you get any extra points for saying it…um…in that dialect, but I almost couldn’t continue I was laughing so hard.
When our row was dismissed, they asked us and one other pair to stay behind. They handed us paperwork to fill out and asked us to come back in two weeks for a screen test! Woo hoo!
So we’re one step closer to being on the show.
Part 2: The Screen Test
We arrived back at the same location in Burbank two weeks after our initial audition, and we had absolutely no idea what to expect. There was no line of people visible from the outside, so they must have whittled down the prospective contestants considerably.
We made our way into the large room full of chairs, which was nearly empty. One of two women seated behind a table asked us for our information. There was a slight mix-up about our original paperwork, and we had to complete it again.
There were only two other pairs in the room with us, which can hold about 100 people. So it felt pretty quiet compared to last time. We were just waiting to be taken into another room to do our screen test. In fact, we could hear other people loudly playing the game behind closed doors. Lots of screaming, some laughter. I wondered if they expect us to scream like that…
At one point, one of the casting producers came into the room and asked us if we have the Heads Up app on our phones. We all nodded our heads, and he said “You should be practicing right now. I want you to get your brains going.” Ok….so we start practicing. At one point my partner said “Oh! She’s a female actress….TUESDAY ADDAMS!”
I couldn’t even begin to contain my laughter. “You mean WEDNESDAY Addams? Christina Ricci.” We couldn’t even play the rest of the round because we were both laughing too hard.
Then suddenly it was our turn, and there was that original casting producer who explained the rules of the game the last time we were in this room. He verified that we still remember the rules about what you can and can’t do, and we headed into the next room.
It was tiny. Like, maybe 3 square feet larger than my bathroom. In this itsy bitsy space was a camera, a purple backdrop, lighting equipment and a rolling cart with a laptop screen. The producer instructed us to stand with our toes on the tape lines. He came over to give us lapel microphones and we test to make sure our voices can be heard and that jumping up and down won’t interfere with the audio. If the producer is expecting us to emulate his playing style, I might as well be on a pogo stick. Hopefully that’s not a required action…cause we don’t really do that.
He tells us that we need as much energy as possible, as if we’re in the $20,000 round. We will each get a 60-second turn to be the clue giver. We did pretty well, but now it’s time to pump it up. This time, he’s going to give us the clues and we’ll both guess. He gives us some last minute advice: “as the guesser, you have to be communicating with me. Even if you’re way off, I can work with it. But if you’re just silent waiting for me to give clues, I have nowhere to go with it, and you’ll be really boring to watch.”
Then he dropped this bomb on us:
“If you can’t get 7 right in 60 seconds, there’s a 95% chance you’ll get on the show. If you get less than 7, you’ll go into a really huge pile of people who have a really small chance of being on the show. So make this count.”
Seven in 60 seconds doesn’t actually sound that hard to me, but we’ll see…
Off we go, lots of shouting, and he’s making us work for it. Instead of making it simple, he says things like “it’s a holiday!” and we have to ask him questions or just throw stuff out there to see if we’re close. It’s frantic, and when he announces that time is up, we high five because we know we’ve done well.
Then he tells us we actually got 10 answers right in 60 seconds. Nailed it! Now it’s time for the interview. The producer is going to ask us some questions and we’ll just have a nice, informal chat…with microphones and a camera. You know, no big deal.
As soon as we got into the barbershop topic, we were on a roll. He wanted to know more about it. Did we party, how often do we hang out, are we friends for life, why hasn’t my partner tried to set me up with anyone?
We did the best we could, and he seemed pleased. The problem now is the waiting game.
As of today (5/27/15), we have still not received a call. I’m super bummed because I thought we did really well…but it was still a cool experience. I was filmed for a game show, and that had never happened before. So there’s that.
There’s still chance though. So if they ever call us back, I will definitely let you all know.