The answer is: Ben Raphel. The question: What Jamaica Plain resident is appearing on the popular TV game show Jeopardy on Friday.
Raphel, who is a healthcare data analyst, answered questions about his appearance on Jeopardy.
Q: What was the process like to get on the show? Auditions, etc.
Raphel: First, I took the online test that Jeopardy offers once a year in October 2016. If you score well enough, you get invited to an in-person audition. At that audition, you have to do another test, and then you play a mock version of the game and do a mock interview. You then are in the contestant pool for the next 18 months. Luckily, I got the call to be on the show only two months after my audition. It was my fourth total time trying out in person for the show (twice for College Jeopardy, twice for the regular show).
Q: What was going on the show like itself?
Raphel: A shuttle picks you up at 7 am from the hotel and takes you to the Sony Studios in Culver City. Then you go backstage to get instructions, go over all the gameplay rules, and get makeup done — then next up, everyone goes onto the set and gets to run through a few rounds of questions and practice how to use the buzzer. Then, around 11 am, the taping begins — they tape five episodes a day! Since I was on the Friday episode I was the last to go, so I had to wait until four episodes aired before it was my turn (you actually don’t find out when you are going on the show until about 20 minutes before the specific episode tapes).
Q: Is there an art to buzzing in? I’ve heard that you have to know how to hit the buzzer in a certain way.
Raphel: I don’t know if there’s an art to the buzzer, other than not to ring in before Alex finishes the question. There are lights that appear on the big Jeopardy board. You aren’t allowed to ring in until those light up, and if you do, you’re locked out for a quarter of a second, which is enough time to give someone else an opportunity to ring in.
Q: Are you given any instructions or tips before going on the show?
Raphel: Yes — it’s mostly general gameplay tips, such as when to ring in, or when it’s acceptable just to say a last name as opposed to a full name. We are told to enjoy ourselves and have fun on stage as well — the contestant coordinators do a great job of keeping the mood light and making sure everyone is laughing while in the green room.
Q: What surprised you about being on the show?
Raphel: Just how many people are involved to make a successful episode of Jeopardy! The experience gave me a lot of respect for anyone who works in the TV industry and is part of a crew producing a show.
Q: What are your best topics? Ex. American history, math, foods that start with the letter Q
Raphel: Love the “White Man Can’t Jump” reference! My best subjects are sports, geography, or anything with pop culture.
Q: Do people curse while the show is being recorded? I had a friend attend tapings and he said people cursed.
Raphel: Haha, I didn’t hear any cursing personally, but that wouldn’t surprise me. Plus, my family was in the audience, so I didn’t want to misbehave in front of them.
Q: How much interaction did you have with Alex Trebek? How about the other contestants?
Raphel: What you see on the episode is what you get with Alex Trebek. There’s no additional interaction. He does the Q&A after the first commercial break, and talks to the contestants after the episode, but otherwise that’s all you get with him. He does, however, love to answer audience questions during filming breaks. As for the other contestants, there is some time to talk with them while you’re in the green room, but it is also a bit nervewrecking because you know that in a few short minutes you might be going up against them in something that will air on TV.
Q: Did you win?
Raphel: I can’t discuss the results ahead of airing, so you’ll have to tune in to find out!
Q: If you got to go on again what would you differently?
Raphel: My advice to anyone who gets on Jeopardy is to HAVE FUN. It’s noticeable when contestants are enjoying their time, and when others are freaking out. Ultimately, it’s a TV show and it’s a game, so have a good time with it. For example, in the Tournament of Champions last month, all three finalists were enjoying being up on at the podiums, and it made for some fun television. And those were the best three players of the past year.
Q: Anything else?
Raphel: The episode on Friday is pre-empted in the Boston area, so it won’t air until late at night. So set your DVRs – or come to the watch party I’m having at Tony C’s in Fenway on Friday night, where we’ll show it at its normal time of 7:30 pm!