I don’t remember how it started. I think a phone call from Beat the Geeks, saying that a friend of mine recommended me as a contestant and they were about to start their new season. That had to have been it, because I’ve since been called by other game shows, and they’re always dropping some name from my Palm Pilot, telling me I’d be perfect for this new show. Flattery and name-dropping, even in the game show circuit, it’s still Hollywood.
I had to go to the studio and fill out an application. They took a Polaroid of me and had me list quirky, interesting facts about myself. Then I had to list my friends and their phone numbers. “Only girls!” they shouted. “We don’t need any more men.” See how easy it is to get chicks’ digits?
I had to stand in front of this small crowd and answer six questions, I think, two from each category (TV, Film, Music). I only got one wrong, which was, “Who sang the lead song for The Fall Guy?” The funny thing is I had a mental conversation with myself a few months before where I pondered the fact that I knew nothing about The Fall Guy and wondered if it was going to cost my Trivial Pursuit points. So there you go. Know everything. I guessed “Heather Locklear,” and they told me I was “close.”
I told my mom that I was going to be on a game show. Once I explained that it was on Comedy Central, and basically I’d be answering Pop Culture questions, trying to out-smart the “geeks” in their chosen areas of expertise, she seemed a little disappointed that I wasn’t putting my smarts to use on a real game show, like Jeopardy!.
“You beat those geeks,” she said to me. “But don’t be rude like they are. They’re so mean to everyone. You be nice on that show.”
Weeks passed, sad things happened and I was more than broke and unemployed when they called to tell me my slot. I had to show up at seven in the morning, and my episode would tape sometime during the twelve hours after I arrived. We had to bring something with our social security number on it, so I brought my final unemployment check, the one that said “YOUR BENEFITS HAVE EXPIRED.” I found it only fitting.
Let me say right here that there’s no money to be won on Beat the Geeks. They promised us a prize package worth thousands of dollars that would include a spa package or a trip to Hawaii. They even made it sound like you could get a check cut for an amount comparable to the price of the trip. How much money should an extra on a Troma movie make? Because that’s what they were offering us. Yes, if you answered all of the questions correctly, you got stabbed on a D-horror movie. What a way to spend an entire day without pay.
Many, many, many hours after I’d sat in the green room making friends with my fellow contestants, they finally called us in. It was the first day of taping the new season, and they were just a bit rusty, and warned us that they’d probably frequently stop taping to fix things.
There was the moment when the three of us realized we were all wearing green shirts, but they wouldn’t let me go and change. I think the Music Geek pointed it out once we started taping.
The first round has only four questions. Our guest geek that week was the Simpsons geek. I got the second question right (something that led to me over-enthusiastically shouting “24!“), but the TV Geek rang in quicker than I did on the follow-up, costing me five points.
So to “ring in,” you have to wait not only until after the question has been read, but until you see this red light go off on the other side of the studio. I was way too short to actually see the light unobstructed, and realized that if I waited until I saw the light I didn’t ring in first. I just hit the buzzer on instinct after losing the first question, and then I was able to buzz in after that. Just a tip, if you’re ever on the show. Waiting on that red light is a total scam. Contestant Number Three left the first round without even getting to ring in once, and I blame the red light for it.
Let’s see, what other golden moments were there? I insulted the Music Geek’s hair, which was a cheap shot and made me feel like my mom is going to be disappointed in me. I do believe I somehow hit on the TV Geek. I won the Music Geek’s medal because he missed a Patsy Cline question. I was in the lead going to commercial break.
Then… I got robbed.
I challenged the TV Geek all the way up to the Geek-Off, which means they give me a topic and I have fifteen seconds to come up with as many right answers as I can. My topic: “Aliens on Television.”
Okay, so next to “Characters in Westerns,” that’s probably the worst topic they could have given me (to compare, my fellow contestant’s Movie Geek-Off was “Keanu Reeves Movies”). Anyway, so I just go:
“Uh… um… Alf! Uh… Mork! Um… uh… um… The People of Alien Nation. Uh… V!”
Yeah. That’s some good guessin’ right there. The people of Alien Nation. I know you’re proud.
So they have to stop the tape to have the judges discuss the words I spit out and see if any of them are worth any points. They decide to award me three points, two for Alf and Mork and one for the People of Alien Nation as a whole, as they individually aren’t worth anything, and I guess they figured V was only a mini-series. I’d like to point out that by their very definition the “People” of Alien Nation aren’t the “Aliens” of Alien Nation.
Anyway, while all of this discussing is going on, the geeks have gathered around one of their podiums to discuss other answers I could have said, like Third Rock From the Sun or Star Trek and such. We go back to taping, award my three points and the host announces the TV Geek’s Geek-Off Topic:
“Actors Who Played Aliens on Television.”
Homeboy proceeds to list off the actors of the aliens I named and then adds John Lithgow and some shit, beating me by one point. I really do think that’s unfair. Don’t you think that’s unfair? He had extra time to come up with more aliens!
Of course now my brain is going, “The Coneheads!” and “Roger, that alien from The Flintstones!” and Roswell and a hundred other aliens. But whatever. I’m now losing.
So we go to the Geekqualizer (for those of you who’ve never heard of this show before, I apologize right now for over-dorking right here on my website for all of you to see). I’m behind, so I go first. The Geekqualizer is where they give you a name and you say whether it has to do with TV, Film or Music. You go until you get one wrong or stall too long. I have to get like, five to be pretty respectable, and in “rehearsal” (read: when I practiced with old shows) I do really well at this. So, here we go.
Gas, Food, Lodging. Got it. Movie.
Gone With the Wind. Got it. Movie.
Huh. Okay, so I’ve already done two movies in a row, so it’s probably not a movie, and I really don’t remember any television show called Wind and since there’s an Earth, Wind and Fire, as well as an Air and music likes things like Wind and Air and stuff, so it’s probably some crazy disco thing I’ve never heard of before. I don’t really know that much about Progressive Rock, and it sounds like some album title for Yes or Rush or whatever.
And that’s where my game show stint ended, right then and there, because apparently Jennifer Grey made a movie with Matthew Modine about the America’s Cup right after she got her nose job, and they called it Wind. I’ll never forget it. Nor will I ever see it.
They sent me home with a t-shirt, a new purse, sunglasses and a coupon for tennis shoes with roller skates built into them. I sent away for the skates in May. They still haven’t arrived. The glasses, blue and square, made me look like an actual alien when I wore them. I do very much love the bag and use it all the time.
I got a call to be on this game show based on Taboo for the “NEW” TNN. They kept stressing that NEW part, like I was ever going to forget it was The Nashville Network, and suddenly think I was on a game show on MTV. Anyway, I turned it down for a couple of reasons. I couldn’t afford a full day where I didn’t get paid a dime to freeze my ass off waiting around to lose in the second round because I couldn’t get someone to understand I was describing a Tablecloth, and also it’s hosted by Chris Wylde, one of my least favorite comics in the world. You might know him as Annoying LA Comic from that one episode of Trading Spaces.
Anyway, my game show days are over. I freaked out for months hoping nobody saw the episode, and luckily almost nobody I know did, except for a few of you out there who emailed going, “Uh, there’s a girl who’s kind of maybe you, losing on cable television right now. Do you know about this?” Thanks for not posting screenshots. Thanks for not making fun of my Alien Nation skillz.
I can’t believe I hit on the TV Geek. On television.
Oh, the worst was that they didn’t want me to say where I wrote, because they thought that TWoP was “Too Hollywood,” and they thought that writing for anime scripts was “Too Cool Geek and not Nerd Geek” so I had to say I was just a “writer.” They promised that nothing would be discussed and we’d move on to my embarrassing geek fact (I once wrote a fan letter to Peter Deluise). Instead ol’ Blaine Capatch goes, “So! Have you written anything I might have seen?”
And I had to answer, “Not…yet!”
Yeah, total winner. I hope they cut that. I wonder if they cut all of this embarrassing stuff I’m telling you here. I hope so. So there’s my game show story. It’s not too glamorous, but if you tally up my ABC News Now experience, Big Boob Girl on Leno (still no word on that) and this, I’m sure I’ve turned any aspiring actors/writers away from moving to Los Angeles. You’re welcome, by the way.