It’s a great pleasure today to interview our first ever genuine Guinness World Record Holder for www.howtowingameshows.com!
David St John, a comedy entertainer from Birmingham in the UK, has racked up appearances on 34 different quiz shows in a thirty year odyssey that he’s chronicled in his eBook Yours Quizzically: Confessions of a TV Quiz Addict, which is available now – here! – on Amazon.
SH: David, welcome to www.howtowingameshows.com, and thanks for talking to me today. First, I feel I have to ask; Why TV quiz shows? What is it that fascinates you about them, and makes you want to keep going on them?
DSJ: They fascinate many people! I simply caught the bug after trying my luck on my first show back in 1982. I never expected to be the outright winner, as I never ‘study’ or revise, so the euphoria planted the seed that germinated over the next thirty odd years. Some people want to win money, others just enjoy the chance to appear on television and be watched by millions – my agenda was to push my own PR as a professional entertainer, leading to spin-off work etc. The prize money was a bonus, of course! I have also nurtured an ambition to host my own show, so one never knows….
SH: You’ve chronicled your unique game show journey in your eBook Yours Quizzically: Confessions of a TV Quiz Addict, which is available here on Amazon. It’s a very thorough account of all your experiences on the many, many different shows from 1982, right up to 2014. What was the most challenging thing about writing the book?
DSJ: In all honesty, I found it easy! Time-consuming, and written in spread out sessions in between the daily routines over a couple of months. One has to be ‘in the mood’ with no distractions, but I found that I could switch on and off, with no break in continuity. I guess that fiction writers have more of a problem, as the discipline and creative thought processes are very different.
SH: Were there any moments in the writing process that surprised you?
DSJ: Yes – the way in which I sat down, started to write and notice how much detail I could remember. It poured out and my first draft was around 100,000 words! I then had a couple of proof-readers check it out, with mainly basic grammar suggestions and happy that my spelling faculties were fine. It also needed editing, so I whittled it down to a reasonable length. On each chapter that outlines each of my TV quiz show appearances, I played each show back and this reminded me of the actual recordings. On top of that, I slotted in loads of relevant linked gags, that I use in live shows, plus thinking up other associated one-liners. This, hopefully, makes it more of an entertaining read, plus offering tips on the whole process of applying for actual shows.
SH: Given that you’ve been on 34 of them, there’s probably no-one more successful at getting through the TV quiz show selection and audition process! What are the 3 most important things for aspiring TV quiz show contestants to know, in order to get through the selection process successfully?
DSJ: Perseverance, Confidence, Luck.
SH: Clearly, nerves aren’t a problem for you when appearing on game shows, but many contestants do struggle with them. Do you have any tips for aspiring contestants to stop nerves getting the better of them, come show time?
DSJ: It really depends on the person! I’m lucky in the lack-of-nerves department, as I have spent most of my life on stages, so the television studio is an extension of this, although there is a high pressure element. One can make a complete fool of themselves, with ‘dumb’ or no answers, but the adrenaline factor can kick in as the confidence builds. I have noticed many bright contestants go to pieces, whilst less knowledgeable players can sometimes get lucky and one never knows, until being there on the spot. The audition process normally gives experienced researchers a good idea of any applicant’s general knowledge plus an insight into their personality. This usually carries across when the actual selections are made, but things can change on the studio floor! Added pressure of complicated game play, lighting, music, ticking clocks can all affect the contestants. Not forgetting that ‘dirty tricks’ might come into play as other players might vote others off for the silliest reasons, but often when they wish to eliminate ‘threats’ i.e. strong contestants!
Next week, in the second – and final – part of our interview, David takes me through the highlights and lowlights of his long list of appearances, his thoughts on how the game show landscape has changed over the years, and his all-important tips for success! Thanks so much again to David for giving his time, and if you’d like to find out more about him, you can, at his website: www.davidstjohn.co.uk.