Where were we? Oh yeah, when reality set in as myself and two friends reluctantly in tow arrived to the studio for the game show. We’re splitting this story up into two parts because it’s getting quite long… it’s not “click bait” or anything like that.
In case you didn’t see the post that leads up to this, the short story is: I was looking for TV jobs and came across a casting call for a game show that hadn’t yet debuted. I filled out the application, including details for myself and two friends. We auditioned. Passed the audition and were invited to compete as contestants.
Oof, could that long post have been written in three sentences, instead? Noooo, the details are needed!
We had just left off with my realizing that we were about to be on live, national TV and I had told everyone I could think of about it, celebrating the turn of events before it was over.
We met with some casting people and PAs to guide us through the process. First we’d do a short round, and then take a break to introduce ourselves and then carry on with the game.
We walked down a long, dark hallway, and I thought to myself, “This is happeniiiiiing.” It felt very gladiator-like, but instead of landing in an arena, we came out the other side to a sprawling TV studio. Sometimes you may go to an in-studio taping, like The Oprah Show, and it’s much smaller than what you actually see on TV. Nope, not this time. It was pretty huge and very Who Wants to Be a Millionaire-like.
As we walked down the hallway, my one friend said to me, “Brigid, this is on you. You have to carry us. You stand in the middle.” And the other one agreed. I said, “We can do this. It’s a team effort.” But, I got the sense, it was on me.
So, the first bit was pretty uneventful. There was a live audience. There were cameras everywhere, which was nice… because you didn’t know which camera was on you. It wasn’t like the Brady Bunch when Cindy froze when seeing the red dot go on (coincidentally she and Bobby were on a game show, too).
It was basically a warmup round. Even though it did count, it was a chance for my team and the other team to get a feel.
But, the thing is, we were told, “If you come out winners, you win XX dollars. But, if your episode doesn’t air, even if you win, you won’t get paid your winnings. It will be a small percentage.”
It wasn’t about the money, but, after all this work, oh, our episode was going to air.
Sure, one day I may be a dogwalker, another day, coffee shop girl… this day, I was game show contestant. Correction: winning game show contestant.
We get to the part where we introduce ourselves. One of the PAs came up and to my friend was like, “We’re going to ask you about your dog.” She was like, “Sure.” To my other friend, they were like, “We’re going to ask you about your job.” Or, something like that. To me. I mean, to me?? They go, “Brigid, we’re going to ask you about being a cougar.” Umm, no you’re not.
When they said, “cougar,” they meant what you would think they meant: an older woman who goes after young men. At the time I was 29. On the application, which I had filled out ages ago, where it said, “Are you single or married, I wrote, “Single, I’m a cougar.” And, again, I did it in the name of getting on a game show.
Yes, I did date men younger than me… by like a few years. The PAs were like, “Yeah, but you wrote that on your application.” I told them, “I wrote that as part of the process, not to be aired on TV.” Not that it was necessarily disparaging, but I didn’t want to talk about my love life at all. These two were talking about dogs and jobs.
The PAs, all dressed in black, wearing headsets, started swirling around the studio, saying, “Abort. Abort. She doesn’t want to be called a cougar. She doesn’t want to be called a cougar.”
I’d like to point out, I’m usually an agreeable person. Even if I don’t agree, I can go along with things, but not this time. As well, I didn’t have time to think, it was just my gut instinct, saying, “No. Something else.”
So, then I was asked, “What do you want to talk about? How do you want to be introduced.” Anything, but being labeled a cougar. I suggested my playing on a pool team. The other team, made up of three young guys, all go, “You’re on a pool team??”
I answered them back, “Yeah, we just won a qualifier, a tournament, and the team is going to Vegas to compete.” They were like, “You arrreeee?” It wasn’t my plan, but I was in their head. Of course I didn’t say this bit, but it was like, “Yes, yes, I am here to compete.”
So, the host comes over. Does his thing. We all chat a bit.
We take a small break in the green room. Just for a little breather. Of course, while in there, I was like, “Did you by chance tell the casting guy that I said he was cute and thought a date might come out of this.”
The answer was: yes.
Head in hands. I was pretty much out of the weeds in terms of embarrassing myself on TV, it was going well. But, here I was, completely mortified… but, had to put those worries on the shelf. Also, while in the green room, one of the casting people was like, “You’re too young to be a cougar!!”
So, we go back in. And, it’s decision time. We play a little more… and, this doesn’t necessarily need to be said… but, playing a game show is much easier from home. I wasn’t nervous or anything but sometimes it just doesn’t click.
For instance, I had the word “pickled in front of me.” So, I thought the answer would be “pickled eggs.” But, when I asked for a letter, a “B” came up. As well, we were advised, no matter what take a guess rather than just saying, “I don’t know,” and ultimately giving up, i.e. it makes for boring TV.
So, I was all set to say “pickled eggs,” but then got a “B,” so, instead I said, “Balls.” Not just balls. I said, “Baaaaalllllls?” The host giggled, actually blushed a little. I dunno. Head in hands. I just meant balls, like sports balls. Needless to say, that was not the answer. Oh, it was: pickled beets.
Ok, ok, we get to the end of the game. We’re a little behind. We have to win the next round or we’re out. We were missing easy stuff, word combos obvious at home, but just weren’t clicking. So, I’m up. Oh, and at this point, we could gamble, put a wage on our guess.
I had the word “Red” in front of me, an “H” below that, and the word “Bone” below that. If that makes sense? If not, something like this:
It may not be exact, maybe it was “H-E-” in the middle?
But, for all the combos that didn’t click. This one didn’t. There have only been a few time in my life when a moment of clarity comes over me. And, this was one of them. I knew exactly what the answer was. And, I put a wager on it.
“I would like to bet $150 I know the answer.” My friend to the right of me whisper-yelled, “What are you doing??” Out of the corner of my mouth, I replied, “It’s okay. I know the answer.”
The thing is, I’m a pretty strong-minded person, but I am also impressionable. A tiny bit of doubt thrown my way, might get in my head. But, I did know it. Whether the host or my friends knew that I knew it.
So, I say the answer: “Herring.”
Again, the PAs start spinning around the room. There’s a lot of whispering. Of course I was all like ???
The host fills in the blank, revealing what the problem is, and asks me to spell it. I admit, I got a little grumbly under my breath, “No one else had to spell their words.”
I was like, “OK, like Red Herring and Herringbone. H-E-R-R-I-N-G.”
I just mentioned that self-doubt thing like, “I know I know how to spell ‘herring,’ but in a heightened situation I might second guess myself.”
Oh, what I didn’t mention is, I’m from Chicago. So, sometimes I might say an “A” or split a syllable, adding an “A” where it’s not called for. When I said “herring,” I either pronounced it like, “hearing” or just said it my own way.
Whatever happened, spelling it out, did it. We won. Oh, and you might get a kick out of this, I have to be honest, I wasn’t 100 percent sure what herringbone was. I mean, I knew the word, so for all intensive purposes, that was enough. Trust me, I know what it means, now. And, if you’re not sure, it’s a pattern.
We actually incorporated a light grey herringbone pattern on the left side of the Cheeky Bird blog.
It was a fun day, a few hours spent in the city, and we walked away with the winnings. (I felt bad for the young guys for not winning, actually, but, well, I’m sure they bounced back.) Was it ridiculous and totally out of the ordinary? Yes, yes, it was. But, I didn’t realize it at the time, because this was just a normal occurrence in my life at that time.
Oh, and side note: thank gawd we won, because people did see it. About every year and a half I get a text or an email or in-person, someone saying, “I’m watching The Game Show Network and you’re on it.” That’s how I got the snap for this post (yes, yes, that’s my serious thinking expression).
I was in Boston with my sister, visiting our brother and sister-in-law and a friend texted me saying just that. We all rushed into the living room, turned on the TV… and, there it was. Definitely a chance for giggles. And, a photo-op, my sister took a snap of the TV screen itself.
So, is this just a really long, winding story about being on a game show? No, there’s a takeaway.
After it was all done and over, I thought to myself, “If I can get myself on TV, why can’t I get myself a job in TV?” It took a minute, well, to be exact, 525,600 minutes (five years), but after some perseverance, it did happen.
It was a long way round, but, I finally got there, and I kept telling myself, “It only takes one.” You can read about finally coming out on the other side of not-so-funemployment and landing where I belong in the forthcoming post.