It’s Just Not Cricket… it’s a radio interview!

Hello!

I’ve got something a little bit different for you this week…

It’s 16 minutes and 6 seconds of me on the radio, blathering on about game shows!

A few weeks ago, I received a lovely email, out of the blue, from the producer of the radio show It’s Just Not Cricket, on ABC Radio Perth.

Its presenter, the very charming and affable Glynn Greensmith, was doing a special on ‘the tricks of the brain’, and wanted to interview me. I gladly agreed, and you can hear the result right here, at the one-hour mark.

However, in case you’re geoblocked from listening, or in case the above link is no longer working, you can also listen to the interview from its home here at HTWGS…

If you do, I hope you find some value in it!

See you next time.

Something Completely Different (for a very good cause)

And now…

Hello!

Please excuse this interruption to your normal transmission, but this Thursday (as in, the night after tomorrow, as in May 16th) I’m going to be taking part in The Sleep At The ‘G – an event that helps raise funds for Melbourne City Mission, to help in all the great work they do in the field of homelessness.

I have a fundraising page right here… and any help that you could offer – no matter how small – would be mightily appreciated! And, as I say, it is for a very good cause.

Thanks for reading this far, and now, for no apparent reason, a picture of our current foster dog Douglas, in his favourite green blanket.

Thank you, and I’ll see you next week!

My EXCLUSIVE interview with The Chase Australia’s ‘Supernerd’, Issa Schultz! The Conclusion

Welcome to the final instalment in my far-reaching interview with that Gentleman, that Scholar, that Supernerd… Mr Issa Schultz.

When we left off last time, Issa was telling me about the public reaction to his onscreen persona, but I was curious about the other side of the coin as well…..

=========================

SH: What do your family think of the persona you’ve adopted for the show?

IS: They weren’t surprised at all! What you see is what you get in real life – perhaps a little amplified for the show, but that’s all. Early on in rehearsals we tried the “nasty” angle but it just wasn’t convincing, and I wasn’t comfortable putting people down.

SH: What sort of study or training do you do for the show each week?

IS: My major weakness (I don’t mind giving it away, as I think most viewers know!), is sport, and most things Australiana, so I mainly focus on those. As most of my family are British, I didn’t have exposure to all the Aussie quirks/slang that most people here would lap up in a heartbeat. In fairness, it makes good viewing, since every audience member loves knowing an answer that the Chaser doesn’t – “Gosh! How did he get that wrong? Everybody knows that!” I also keep an eye on current films, the ARIA charts, and quite simply, do as many quizzes as I can (i.e. standard Issa behaviour!)

SH: And finally… (I understand entirely, Issa, if you’d prefer not to answer this, but I feel I’d be neglecting my duty if I didn’t ask)… Are there any tips you can share for any aspiring contestants wanting to go up against you on The Chase Australia?

IS: I don’t mind at all! Whilst I always play my best game on the day, it is admittedly lovely to see the money go off to teams. For The Chase Australia, I would strongly suggest watching previous episodes, just to get a feel for the questions asked. They certainly have their own style – e.g. “In which continent…” So make sure you know your continents! Same goes for the oceans, countries. “In which UK country” is another common one. No need to pass if you can take a guess at one of the four nations – England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland. Which brings me to one more tip – TRY not to pass. A pass = zero points. A guess = a chance of a point. We’ve had teams pass when the question started with “In which Australian state…” or “What colour…”. Pick a state! Pick a colour! You might just get lucky.

SH: Issa, thank you so much for your time today, and all the very best
for your continued success on The Chase Australia!

IS: Stephen, so very kind, appreciate our chat.

==================================================================

And there you have it. I’m so very grateful to Issa for giving his time so freely, and for his most detailed and thoughtful responses. You can follow Issa on Twitter (@Issa25), and for those of you in Australia, you can watch him on The Chase Australia, on the Seven Network each weekday afternoon, or right here, on The Seven Network’s catch-up service 7plus.

I’ll see you back here next Tuesday… 

My EXCLUSIVE interview with The Chase Australia’s ‘Supernerd’, Issa Schultz! Part 4 of 5

Issa milking a cow, in his spare time.

Welcome to the penultimate instalment of my exclusive interview with Issa Schultz.

So far, we’ve discussed Issa’s early life, his first quiz show appearances, and his competitive – and successful – quizzing career with Quizzing Australia.

But, as a fan of superhero movies, I was also very curious to know about the Supernerd’s ORIGIN STORY…

==================================================================

SH: Before The Chase Australia came along, you were working in the IT department
of a bank. How did your role on the show originate? Did you approach the production, or did the production approach you?

IS: Incredibly, ITV Studios rang me at work! This was back in March 2014, it was from a private number so I didn’t answer. I listened to the voicemail and was very confused. It sounded a bit nonsensical, especially as they didn’t actually name the show (They weren’t allowed to, at that point). But I rang the lovely lady back and we got chatting. She said “I can’t name the show…” but then proceeded to describe the exact format of The Chase. At the end of the conversation she said “I get the feeling you know where this is going…” and I said “yes I do too!”

SH: What was the selection / audition process like?

IS: Every couple of weeks I was flown down to Fox Studios at Moore Park, Sydney for a camera test in a dark room and some quizzing. The room size slowly increased over the weeks – it began with a tiny office space with black sheets over the windows! We eventually moved to one of their studios where there was a dummy game board and we played some ‘Chase’ rounds and did some ‘Final Chases’. During all this time I was reminded that I wasn’t guaranteed to be on the show, to my knowledge they were training perhaps 6-10 people. Eventually a Chaser Producer – at the time the marvellous Anthony Watt – was assigned to “us”, and he visited and quizzed me here in Brisbane for many weeks. Finally – after many months, I received THAT phone call, again at work, saying congratulations, I was officially in. It was meant to be top secret, but I was so excited I think everyone in the office figured it out.

SH: What sort of learning and ‘training up’ does it take to become a Chaser?

IS: I thank the stars that I had many, many years of preparation leading up to this role – even though I obviously didn’t know it was going to happen. To be a Chaser, you really need to have your quiz basics down. Geography, history, science, literature… if you don’t know the capital of Portugal or who wrote Jane Eyre you may not get to sit in the Chaser seat! So in the early days, I just bought and read every quiz book I could find, cover to cover. That, coupled with going to as many quiz nights as physically possible (I was up to 7 per week at one point!), meant that in just a few years I had built up a really good foundation of quiz knowledge. A crucial element of being a Chaser is obviously being quick, particularly with the Final Chase. I’ve always been lucky there; on most days can think quickly. A strong coffee helps, I find! If anyone wants to practice their speed, try getting a friend / partner to read you questions and see how fast you can answer.

SH: In what ways has becoming The Supernerd on The Chase Australia changed your
life?

IS: It has been a life changer, that’s for sure, my goodness! But all for the positive. I see myself as certainly not an extrovert, but perhaps not a full introvert either. Still, when the first batch of strangers stopped me on the street I really didn’t know what to do. But over the years, my self-confidence has definitely grown. It helps that absolutely everybody I’ve met has been SO lovely. The comments are all upbeat, and I find it so heartening to know that I’m bringing joy to so many people. A few months ago, I spoke to a lovely man who runs a special needs school, and he said they all stop at 5 PM to watch The Chase Australia, and if I come out, they all applaud and say “my friend!”. Stories like that just grip me and make me so happy.

There are the more unusual encounters, which give me a giggle. One chap said I was fantastic in Criminal Minds! I’ve had awkward/unexpected kisses, and even the odd cheek pinch (I didn’t know people still did that).

==================================================================

I assume he’s talking about the cheeks on his face.

Moving swiftly on, be sure to join us next week, for the conclusion of my interview with the one and only SUPERNERD….the eminently pinchable Issa Schultz! 

 

 

My EXCLUSIVE interview with The Chase Australia’s ‘Supernerd’, Issa Schultz! Part 3 of 5

Hello!

Last week, Issa and I discussed his earlier game show appearances – on The Rich List, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and Millionaire Hot Seat.

Now read on…

==================================================================

SH: Apart from those TV appearances, you’ve also long been a fixture on the Australian Quizzing scene. In fact, you’re a six-time winner of the Australian Quizzing Championships (2011, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018) and six-time Pairs Champion (2012-17). Can you tell me a bit about that area of your life? Just how all-consuming has it been?

IS: It is probably my favourite part of quizzing nowadays. I discovered Quizzing Australia (the organisation that runs these events) back in 2008, and I decided to fly myself to Sydney to compete. I came second that year but was instantly hooked. It really is “next level” quizzing. It is run concurrently with the World Quizzing Championships and consists of a whopping 240 questions over eight categories, done in two hours with a break in between. As the questions are the same worldwide, you get a massive range, and the difficulty is very high. Last year I was fortunate to win Aussie title No. 6 and reached 57th in the world – absolutely delighted. For the first time, I finished ahead of Anne (The Governess) and she wasn’t necessarily thrilled!

SH: Do you still have time to compete in this arena, now that you’re working on The Chase Australia? If so, has becoming a Chaser helped your game there?

IS: Oh, absolutely. If anything, I am probably guilty of studying for international competitions more than The Chase. There is a little bit of a crossover, but naturally many questions in a world championship aren’t going to be suitable for a televised Australian quiz show – too obscure and many are too long, for example. But doing The Chase has definitely helped my general knowledge across the board. I remember one year at the World Quizzing Championships, Brydon and I had a little chuckle because a question asked had just come up at a recording the week before. Every month, there are two international quizzes of 100 questions each called ‘Hot 100’ and ‘Squizzed’, both of which are excellent and I always put time aside to compete in both. We have groups meet up twice a month to do these in Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and Perth. It’s great just to socialise and be guaranteed a decent, interesting quiz.

SH: Issa, your general knowledge is obviously very vast and wide-ranging… I wanted to get your thoughts on a theory of mine; that we are currently witnessing The Death of General Knowledge. Here’s what I mean; 100 years ago, American captain of industry Henry Ford was not a highly educated man, and he credited much of his success to The
Mastermind Principle. This can be summed up by the notion “Well, I don’t know the answer to that question, but I know someone who does”. Ford surrounded himself with knowledgeable people – an ‘external brain’, if you like – and would consult with them, and reap the benefits of their collective wisdom in his decision-making. This was seen as radical back then – successful businessmen were expected to be educated,
knowledgeable, intelligent, and have vast amounts of information in their memories that they could draw on; they were expected to have all the answers. Ford was the exception to the rule. Fast forward 100 years… and now, all of us have access to the entire world’s collective wisdom in our pockets (on our phones) 24 hours a day. The Mastermind Principle has now become the rule, rather than the exception. Arguably, none of us need General Knowledge anymore, since “Google knows the answer to that!”

Personally, I think this is sad, and I’m trying to teach my daughter to value and cultivate and exercise her general knowledge. It’s part of being a well-rounded, interesting human being, after all. What are your thoughts on this?

Continue reading

My EXCLUSIVE interview with The Chase Australia’s ‘Supernerd’, Issa Schultz! Part 2 of 5

Hello and welcome back to my exclusive interview with ‘The Supernerd’ himself, Issa Schultz.

By the time Issa was cast on The Chase Australia in 2015, he had already notched up a long and successful quiz show career, despite his relative youth…

==================================================================

SH: When you were 25, you were a contestant on The Rich List
(which was hosted by Andrew O’Keefe, who you now work with on The
Chase Australia), where you won $200,000! Do you remember the list that scored
you the win?

IS: Oh absolutely Stephen, it’s one of those things you never forget! There were actually two lists, the first one netted $250,000, and the second one added $150,000. On The Rich List you competed in pairs, so the prize money was split at the end, hence $400,000 between two. The first list was ‘Letters of the Greek Alphabet’. We had great momentum going into that round, and just before shooting AOK said “I reckon you guys will carve this up”, followed by “there are 24 answers on this list”. And right then and there, I just had that feeling – I just knew it was going to be Greek letters. And when AOK began slowly “Letters…” the endorphins went crazy because I knew we were about to win $250,000.

The second list was ‘Ranks in the Royal Australian Navy’, which was jolly handy as my father was in the merchant navy, and it was a list I had looked at once before. The ranks get a bit messy near the bottom so we weren’t game to go all the way, but certainly very happy to bank another $150,000.

SH: What did you do with the prize money?

IS: Amazingly, for a then-25 year old, I held onto it! I used existing savings to take a couple of holidays, and also took my father over to the UK in 2009 so he could walk my sister down the aisle for her wedding. Eventually in 2017, I put it towards an apartment in the Brisbane CBD.

SH: Apart from the obvious ($$$!)… how was that experience different from the Einstein Factor experience, and what did it teach you about being a quiz show contestant?

IS: It was MUCH more tense. I remember hardly sleeping the night before (and after), because it really felt like a “do or die” moment. Sorry to be so dramatic! I just felt this show could change my life – after all it is probably the last “big money” show we’ve had for a while outside Millionaire. On The Einstein Factor, everyone was so relaxed, including the contestants – it was a fun day out. On The Rich List, everyone seemed on edge, especially other contestants. We were mostly kept separate, but a couple of times I crossed paths with teams that I was told I would not be facing, and they were very quiet. It felt more akin to a dentist’s waiting room than a TV studio.

SH: You’ve also been on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire – how did you fare there, and do you have any tips for aspiring contestants for that show?

IS: Cheekily, I was on it twice! Back in 2002 with the old (better) format, and again in 2009 for Millionaire Hot Seat. I’ve always been fond of Millionaire, but I was never able to deliver on the day. In 2002, I bombed out going for the safe level of $32,000, and in 2009, I only answered two or three questions before missing a pop culture question (that my mother – in the audience – knew!) Success on Hot Seat relies on a lot of luck;  the seat placement for starters is decided by producers. For future contestants, I would use all the time available on the clock and try and eliminate some options. When I was on Hot Seat, you actually saw a numerical clock counting down, instead of the graphic you see on TV, so it’s easy to see how much time you have left. Even though he’ll continue to deny it, Eddie’s body language/choice of words can be a MASSIVE clue. If you’re hovering over a correct answer, he’ll lock it in quite swiftly, whereas if it is wrong he’ll ask if you’re sure/stall etc. I realised afterwards he was trying to get me to pass – so I wouldn’t get knocked out – but I was so frazzled I locked in my (wrong) answer anyway.

==================================================================

Bad luck, Issa – you can’t win them all! That’s a FANTASTIC tip about (Millionaire Hot Seat host) Eddie McGuire, though. Any aspiring Hot Seat contestants here in Australia should most certainly take note!

See you next week, for Part Three!

My EXCLUSIVE interview with The Chase Australia’s ‘Supernerd’, Issa Schultz! Part 1 of 5

Hello!

This week, I’m absolutely DELIGHTED to bring you my latest exclusive interview with one of The Chasers, from the hit show The Chase Australia.

Following on from my previous interviews with ‘Goliath’ (AKA Matt Parkinson), and ‘Tiger Mum’ (AKA Cheryl Toh)… Today, I’m delighted be talking to another firm fan favourite… ‘The Supernerd’ (AKA Issa Schultz)! Issa was very generous with his time in this very wide ranging conversation, and I hope you enjoy our chat as much as I did.

So let’s get straight into it!

==================================

SH: Issa, thanks very much for chatting to me today for HowToWinGameShows.com!

IS: An absolute pleasure Stephen, long-time fan! Delighted to have a chat.

SH: You grew up in England, moving to Australia in 1995 when you were 11 years old. Had you already been bitten by the quiz bug back in England? What quiz shows or game shows did you watch over there, as a child?

IS: Back in the UK, my father ran an establishment that I think he called “The Liberal Club” and he would host trivia nights every week. I would arrive at the club right near the end of these nights (after Cub Scouts!), and would occasionally overhear some of the questions – and it made me sit up and listen. I remember thinking “hey, I like this question / answer concept!” The big quiz shows of the day back then were Fifteen to One (hosted by the late great William G Stewart) and Mastermind (similarly the late great Magnus Magnusson).

SH: When and where did your interest in competitive quizzing begin?

IS: My family and I went to pub quizzes regularly up on the Sunshine Coast as I went through high school, but I think it got more serious once I moved to Brisbane in 2002, as I realised the pub quiz scene down here was more difficult and harder to win. I’d find myself buying quiz books and reading those instead of my uni books (!!). Likewise, back in high school I remember handing one or two assignments in late because I had chosen to go to a pub quiz the night before they were due!

SH: When you were 21 years old, you appeared on The Einstein Factor – I looked this up on imdb, and it appears your special subject was either ‘The Academy Awards’, ‘Australian Birds’, or ‘The Life and Times of Carl Lewis’… so, which one was it, and how did you do on the show?

IS: Aha, well researched sir! Yes that was back in 2005, and I had opted for Academy Awards. In hindsight my preparation was terrible, I think I had just looked at a couple of lists and some “weird Oscar factoids” and assumed/hoped that would do the trick. Back then of course, Wikipedia was very much in its infancy, so potential resources were all over the shop. I came second overall, the chap who did Australian Birds really knew his stuff. Funnily enough, the chap who came third in that episode I had previously met, on a recording of Millionaire. He said “Oh no, not you again!”.

SH: What did you learn from that experience?

IS: The wonderful thing about The Einstein Factor was that you were really playing for “the honour” rather than any cash prize. Sure I was disappointed, but equally as a struggling 21 year old it was so nice to have paid flights and accommodation at St Kilda. Little highlights like spotting Tim Ferguson (one of the show’s “Brains Trust”) afterwards in the local 7-11 stay in my mind. From a quizzing angle, I realised that going forward, I’d really need to do more preparation. That was my second TV quiz show and second loss at that stage. I also realised, watching it back, that I should jolly well get a decent haircut next time I’m on TV!

==================================================================

And that’s where we leave it for this week. When our interview continues next week, Issa and I discuss his biggest quiz show win, how he spent the money, and he reveals his insider tips for Who Wants To Be A Millionaire….

 

And, for those playing along at home, the next time he went on TV he DID have a decent haircut.

 

Ryan’s Life In Game Shows, Episode 16: Conquering A Mountain – Part 3 of 3

Hello!

And welcome to the climax of Guest Blogger Ryan Vickers’s three-part post on his experience as a contestant on the French Canadian quiz show Au Suivant (which translates as.. Next!)

So far, Ryan’s applied to be on the show, he’s been interviewed to be a contestant, he’s been selected to be a contestant, he’s made his way to the studio, he’s met his fellow contestants, he’s met the show’s host Stephane Bellavance….

==================================================================

And then it was show time! I was lucky to snag spot number one in the line so I got to lead off the show. Here’s the episode in its entirety.

As you can see, it was an awesome experience – let me touch on some highlights:

THE HOSTING GIG: When Stephane came backstage to discuss conversation topics, I gave him a choice of three scuba diving stories… or my ambition to be a game show host. I can’t even start to tell you what a MONSTROUS thrill it was to get to host, and to interview Stephane before the show started. The production staff arranged that – and I had no knowledge that it was going to happen before I arrived at the studio. And then came the wait for six months to see if it would make the edit – which it did! I’ve had a fun time sharing that clip.

WINNING THE FIRST ROUND: I was so nervous when the first question came up but so thrilled when the third came up. I had set a goal to at least get one scroll, and now I had the chance. That excitement you see is genuine!

PICKING A SCROLL: We had lessons on how to do this. Use your fingers to slow the carousel. Don’t stop it immediately. Don’t grab a scroll while it is moving.

ON WHETHER OR NOT TO STOP: I had run some numbers based on average winning scores from the previous year’s shows. $6K wasn’t going to cut it. It’s like stopping on 60 cents when you’re the first spinner on the Showcase Showdown on The Price is Right. Sure, you’re probably going to go over, but at least you control your own destiny.

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER YOU’RE DONE: You realize you’re done. If you’re me however, you’ve got a massive grin because it was one of the craziest five minutes of your life and you have a smile plastered on your face.

THAT BONUS ROUND: We were SO happy that Sandrine won. Having won big on a game show at a young age makes a massive difference.

My friends and I stayed around for the second episode, got a few pictures and talked with Stephane after it was done.

To conclude: When I was fifteen, I was in an article in the local newspaper, saying that I wanted to be a game show host. 26 years later, it came true. Never give up on your game show dreams!

==================================================================

I couldn’t agree more, Ryan! I’d like to thank Ryan again so much for taking the time to share his story over the last three weeks, and – in case I haven’t said this before – for his endlessly positive, joyous attitude. Always a pleasure. After all, they are called game shows… and games are supposed to be fun! 

Remember, you can follow Ryan on Twitter at Real Canada Man

And hey – if you’d like to follow in Ryan’s footsteps, and write a guest post (or two) for HowToWinGameShows.com, just let me know! You can contact me, as always, at Stephen@HowToWinGameShows.com. So if you have a game show-related story – or stories – to share, drop me a line! I’m always open to new contributors and ideas. 

See you next time, for ….

Ryan’s Life In Game Shows, Episode 16: Conquering A Mountain – Part 2 of 3

Hello!

As you’ll remember from last week, Ryan had applied to be a contestant on Au Suivant, a French Canadian quiz show, somewhat similar to Australia’s Millionaire Hot Seat. He’d made an audition video and sent it in, and subsequently received an invitation to do an audition / interview for the show on FaceTime.

WILL the interview go well?

WILL the contestant selectors take a shine to him?

WILL Ryan be selected as a contestant on the show?

Let’s just say that there’s a lot riding on the outcome of this interview.

Now, I don’t want to give too much away, or spoil that outcome for you… so I’ll just let this picture do that.

Now read on!

================================================================== 

The day came. I put on a nice outfit, sat down and got ready. Two things happened that weren’t really to my advantage. First, I put the phone down to put FaceTime on horizontal and all of a sudden, my two-person interview panel became two half-faces! The next bump came for my very first question; “What is the main ingredient in hummus?” I knew it was chickpeas but I couldn’t find the French word…

My interviewers said “Tu peux le dire en Anglais!” (You can say it in English!)

Which I did… and I thought might be the end. However, it was not and I used that to my advantage. One of my interviewers told me to just say a funny answer if I didn’t know the real answer. I decided to roll with it; I figured it might not go anywhere and so I should treat it as a fun learning experience. Several times during the interview I made the interviewers laugh. In addition, the personality section went well.

That was late April.

The first Friday of June was a particularly difficult day at work. I had a long road trip planned for that evening, so my mind was probably somewhere else as I checked my email on my phone. I read the first line of the new email that had arrived.

« …vous avez été sélectionnée comme candidate pour la prochaine saison d’Au Suivant ! »

After years of trying, I had finally made it! I was going to be on a French-Canadian game show! I was pumped. Following that long drive, I sat at breakfast the next morning at my hotel and ordered the Au Suivant board game online.

For the next two months, I played the game incessantly with friends. I dug out my old copy of Qui Veut Etre Un Millionaire? to use as flashcards. I recruited a friend who had been on both Jeopardy and Millionaire to conduct Skype sessions twice a week. I was going to be ready for this.

I found myself at Radio-Canada in early August. We were led down into our green room where we went over the rules and contestant agreements. I talked with the other contestants (in my group there was someone who had been on five game shows and another person who’d been on eleven!), and generally just relaxed.

About a half hour before the show we were led onto set to practice where we should stand, where we should look and where we should exit, if luck was not on our side. It was at this time that my friends arrived to sit in the audience and I was pretty excited. This was the first time in a long while that I had a rooting section! We were then led back to the green room.

We were just shooting the breeze when Stephane, the host, came in to say hello! He gave us some sound advice – keep it moving but have fun! – and talked to each of us individually to see what we would talk about on air before we started our round of questions… that is IF we got to play. The structure of the show doesn’t guarantee that everyone gets to play, although we were told that if we didn’t get to play, they would try to bring us back for a future episode.

==================================================================

Next week, as this three-part post concludes, Ryan meets up with Stephane again, when he takes to the stage to play Au Suivant

See you next Tuesday!

STOP PRESS – ‘Mastermind Australia’ still needs contestants!

Hello Friends, just a quick one today.

If any Australian quiz enthusiasts are up for a challenge, the new season of Mastermind on SBS is still looking for contestants.

If YOU’RE interested in applying, let me know (stephen@howtowingameshows.com) and I can put you directly in touch with the contestant co-ordinator!

Message ends. Thank you for your attention.

Your normal service will resume tomorrow.