Thursday, December 12 2013, 12:05 PM MST
Web Exclusive: Trying Out for Jeopardy
Jeopardy star Ken Jennings tells Shauna Lake about the audition process for Jeopardy.
SHAUNA LAKE: Tell me about the tryout process.
KEN JENNINGS: It’s pretty intimidating. I think now days, Jeopardy! does tryouts on the internet so they can weed people out that way. But at the time you either had to wait for them to come to some nearby shopping mall or drive to L.A. and tryout. And they never came to Salt Lake when I was living here. So finally a friend of mine and I just hopped in our car and drove down to L.A., the way they tell you not to, just to try out for the show. It’s really long odds. I think they have tens of thousands of people trying out every year for like 400 spots.
SHAUNA LAKE: Were you scared?
KEN JENNINGS: Yeah I was totally nervous. By the numbers, that’s ten times or a hundred times harder than getting into like Harvard or Yale. So I’m very worried, and I just remember cramming in the car. I remember my friends and I had an almanac and we were you know quizzing each other.
SHAUNA LAKE: How do you study for something like that?
KEN JENNINGS: It’s tough.
SHAUNA LAKE: Seriously.
KEN JENNINGS: Because they can ask you anything. It’s not like cramming for an 8th grade geometry…
SHAUNA LAKE: Right so how do you… I’m being serious. How do you study for something like that?
KEN JENNINGS: So I watched the show quite a bit. And if you watch a lot of Jeopardy! you realize there’s always stuff they come back to. Every couple shows there’s world capitals, there’s Shakespeare, there’s state nick names. There’s things that come up time and time again. So I remember we were reviewing list of stuff like that, and you know stuff they ask about that no one knows, like opera or ballet. We were studying stuff like that.
SHAUNA LAKE: And you’re Mormon so did you study up on your alcohol, your gambling, things that maybe you wouldn’t know just from maybe not experiencing them?
KEN JENNINGS: That’s totally true. Jeopardy! has a potent potables category, which is all mixed drinks, you know? And I had no idea. I guess I’d seen cocktail but that was it. I had no idea how to mix a sidecar of a grasshopper. And later my wife and I did make flashcards and she would just quiz me…
SHAUNA LAKE: What’s in a martini?
KEN JENNINGS: Exactly. Harvey Wallbanger and I would be like, orange juice, vodka, Galliano. And I don’t know what these things are but…
SHAUNA LAKE: But at least you knew the answer if it came up.
KEN JENNINGS: I could be the world’s first Mormon bartender.
(Copyright 2013 Sinclair Broadcasting Group.)