Ever wanted the fame and fortune that goes with being on a game show? There's a few things you should pay attention to in order to maximise your chances of being chosen.
Image: Insomnia Cured Here
Not that long ago, I went along to the audition for an (at the time) upcoming new daytime game show. With my full disclosure hat on, I was there as a plus-one for a friend who'd applied to audition online only to find his partner of choice unavailable. He'd asked me on short notice if I'd like to give it a try, and I'll try just about anything once.
I'm not exactly a stranger in front of a camera or in a TV studio for that matter, and much of the audition process was exactly what I'd expect. Commercial television, and daytime commercial TV especially runs on the leanest budgets, so while what you see on the screen might look modestly acceptable, the production behind the scenes is as bare bones as possible. That seemed to take many of my fellow game show candidates by surprise.
What I did find interesting was the selection process, and the tips given to ensure selection. I've got to be honest and say that I didn't take the entire thing all that seriously, and that probably hurt my chances. The producer (who, in typical daytime TV budget fashion, was also hosting the auditions and was the on-camera show host) commented on a few things that they typically looked for in candidates, and the things that could scupper your chances if you were genuinely keen.
These were his two tips:
Don't clam up on camera
Most game shows have some kind of quiz component, and that's where you've got to be ready to babble. It's more entertaining for someone to talk up their inner thoughts than it is to stare blankly like a fish at the camera, which is why you'll often see game show hosts gently prodding contestants who go mysteriously silent
Don't overplay to the camera either
This was probably where I fell foul (which is to say that they haven't called me back to go collect my money yet, and I somehow suspect that they won't) because a closeup TV camera collects every little bit of motion and movement. It's fine to play "big" on a theatre stage, but TV is a lot more subtle than that, even within the usually hyperbolic medium of a daytime game show.
I'd add a third to that, based on my own experiences:
Know your target game show, and play appropriately to that
I was probably too smart for the game show in question, and certainly a little too old. We were easily the oldest team auditioning by a good ten years, and I'm not exactly "ancient" just yet.
Part of the selection process involved a 30-question trivia quiz, and that got my competitive juices flowing. Again, that was probably a mistake, because I suspect I did too well. My final score for that section was 18 out of 30, and if I knew a damned thing about sports it would have been in the high twenties. Also, because it surprised me, few people knew that the letters you need to add to "crib" in order to make it into a writer were "s" and "e" into "scribe". Then again, I guess I am a professional scribe, so maybe that was playing to my knowledge base.
Those around me were scoring around 10 points or so, and I don't point that out to denigrate them or put myself on a pedestal. They were the target competitors for this particular quiz, which didn't want to give away too much money or (by the host's own admission) have terribly mismatched teams going head to head.
That doesn't mean that you always have to play dumb, but playing to the style and level of the game show in question will undeniably play to your advantage.
Any Lifehacker readers had game show experiences — auditions or appearances — that they'd care to share?