What is…A Jeopardy! Story?

The original Jeopardy! was created by Merv Griffin on 30 March 1964. On 10 September 1984 a daily syndicated version was launched, hosted by Alex Trebek and his mysteriously disappearing and reappearing mustache, and has been going even stronger ever since. Jeopardy! is the recipient of multiple daytime Emmy awards and the prestigious Peabody Award—being the only post-1960 game show to receive this accolade.  The daily syndicated show is currently in its 34nd season. And I am in my 34th year of post-high schoolness.

I did have the opportunity back in 1987 when I was in Los Angeles to take the contestant test. Granted, I was only 21 at the time and did not know nearly as much useless trivia as I do now. Nevertheless, it was a fun experience and I never gave up on my dream to be on the show one day.

Fast forward 31 years. Now, potential Jeopardy! contestants can take the test online. Which I have done. Every year. Since then.

Perhaps the one aspect about the online test I find most disconcerting—well, actually there are two—is that, first of all, I am a veritable Einstein whilst watching the show from the comfort of my living room or bedroom or bathtub. I answer questions I have no earthly recollection of learning. Sometimes, I have to admit, I surprise myself with my seeming mastery of all things trivial.

However, second—and this is rather demoralizing—some of the test questions are almost impossible. Instead of “normal” categories such as Geography, Supreme Court Justices,  Chemical Elements, 1970s Music, and TV Show Theme Songs—or even slightly more obscure ones such as Potent Potables, Doctor Who Companions, or Oscar-Nominated Actors who Used to be Carpenters (Who is Harrison Ford, anyone?)—the contestant exam now contains categories such as 13th Century Portuguese Poets, Rivers in Antarctica, and Alliterative French Experimental Theatre Sports Mascots Before and After Rhyme Time Crossword Clues X (OK, that last one was a bit over the top). Nevertheless, I do get rather perturbed when someone who actually passed the incomprehensible inconceivable intricate inquisition misses multiple questions—or even worse, Final Jeopardy!—when I know the correct answer and should have been in his or her place.

Life is not fair. Get used to that, kids.

I have since added to my dream of being a contestant to include someday being a question on Jeopardy! Of course, I would prefer being in a category such as Famous Authors, Notable Women, Pulitzer Prize Winners, or something otherwise positive. Not, say, for example, Notorious or Death Row Inmates although those who know me really well may say I am, indeed, better suited for the latter. I just think it would be cool to hear, “Who is Natalie Faulk?” Especially for Final Jeopardy!

“Don’t minimize the importance of luck in determining life’s course.” ~ Alex Trebek

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