I’ll take ‘Winnipegger who made it onto Jeopardy’ for $200, Alex
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 20/07/2017 (2069 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A Winnipeg university instructor took his questions from the classroom to the Los Angeles set of Jeopardy recently in what he calls “the experience of a lifetime.”
George Buri, who teaches history at the University of Manitoba and the University of Winnipeg, was one of 400 successful applicants in a pool of over 70,000.
Being on Jeopardy was a childhood dream of his, but after waiting two years for a response to his audition, Buri figured it was out of reach.
Buri had driven down to Kansas City in 2015 for an in-person audition after successfully completing the show’s online test.
After scoring well on the test, Buri was told he’d be in the applicant pool for 18 months. But the year-and-a-half went by without any correspondence from the show’s producers.
“I just thought, ‘That was fun but I didn’t get on,’” he said.
It was nearly two years after his trip to Kansas City that Buri’s phone lit up with a strange number — it was an agent from Jeopardy, asking him if he could fly down to Los Angeles to compete on the show.
“I nearly fell out of my chair,” Buri said.
Buri flew to the studio in April and competed in the pre-taping of an episode that will air Friday night. He can’t comment on the results until then.
He can talk about what he thinks the key is for people wanting to get on the show.
“I think the combination of scoring well on the test and being at least a confident human to appear on television is the secret,” he said, noting producers look at how well applicants handle pressure in a game show environment.
Boned up on trivia, practised buzzing
To prepare, Buri watched the show to pick up on common categories. He found geography, arts and American presidents cropped up often and set to work memorizing every U.S. president, studying world maps and taking online practice tests.
He wasn’t starting from scratch, though — the trivia whiz first took an interest in general-knowledge games as a kid whose parents loved Trivial Pursuit.
When he first met his wife, Jennifer Cheslock, the two became a dominant team in question-and-answer games — to the point their friends wouldn’t play with them anymore.
“Stuff will just stick in my brain, and it’ll rattle around there somewhere, and I can pull it out when I need to.”–George Buri on his trivia skills
Buri says he simply has a knack for it.
“Stuff will just stick in my brain, and it’ll rattle around there somewhere, and I can pull it out when I need to,” he said.
The strangest part of preparing for the show was standing in front of his television with the inner piece of a toilet paper roll in his hand, Buri said.
He would practice buzzing in as Jeopardy played out on the screen, and his wife would keep stats of questions he got right, wrong and failed to answer.
“That was really fun, actually,” said Buri, noting it’s a practice the show encourages.
Despite his preparation, not a single question on the show was something he studied.
“But I think just giving me the confidence was good,” he laughed.
Buri will host a viewing party for his friends and family Friday night.
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