My EXCLUSIVE interview with ‘Millionaire Hot Seat’ Winner Judd Field! Part IV

Welcome back to my interview with Judd Field. Let’s dive right back in!
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SH: The show starts with 15 questions in the ‘Fastest Finger First’ format – did you do any specific training for that?
JF: Yes; playing the iPhone app quiz games, just trying to answer as quickly as possible. It’s a hard one to prepare for, as (on the show) it’s effectively an iPad with a stylus pen. The question comes up on screen and you have to click on the answer. It’s hard to hover the pen, as then you can’t see the answer. After a terrible start (the pen didn’t seem to register on the iPad), I did okay, and got a number right. That included having the only correct answer to a visual question (“Which of these cathedral rooves is the Pantheon roof?” Maybe my spiritual background helped haha), but anyway I finished third, and that helped my confidence levels.

SH: Central to the format of Millionaire Hot Seat is the contestants’ option to ‘Pass’ on a specific question, and go back to the queue, hopefully to have a another turn in the Hot Seat later in the episode. Did you have a particular strategy about how and when to use this?

JF: The lack of lifelines in the Millionaire Hot Seat format makes it a lot harder to just sit in the chair and answer everything. Something I noticed when watching over the years was that there was often that one question completely out of my interests or field of knowledge, and that was the hardest thing to prepare for.
As much as I wanted to turn off the TV and just study encyclopaedias, I realised you do need every bit of information from current events too. You need to be a sponge, but even then, there are always your weak areas.
For example, in my episode, there was a 92-year-old man – sharp as a tack, he nearly won the ‘Fastest Finger’ section – and when he got to the Hot Seat, he answered quite a number of difficult questions very confidently. His general knowledge was becoming very intimidating and I was starting to wonder if the gameplay would even get back to me. But he hit a question from current events;
American footballer Colin Kapernick appeared
in a 2018 ad campaign for which sports brand?
A) Converse
B) Adidas
C) Under Armour
D) Nike
He clearly had no idea, tossed up between Adidas and Converse and incorrectly guessed Adidas. I love sports, and remembered the “kneeling for the national anthem” controversy on Facebook, and was pretty sure it was Nike.*
It’s hard sitting in the next seats “hoping” someone gets it wrong so you can get back in the Hot Seat, but I must admit as soon as I saw that question, I breathed a sigh of relief, as I had a feeling that a modern sporting current event question might be outside his field of knowledge.
And that’s the thing; with the lack of lifelines in this format, it highlights strategically using the “pass” as the only other way you can avoid those left-field questions, short of being a certified, card-carrying genius like your good self Stephen.
SH: Oh, you’re too kind!
JF: Not at all. So my plan was; if I drew the first or second seat, I wanted to pass early to reduce my chances of hitting that kind of curve-ball question in the mid rounds. Watching the show, I’ve noted if you pass when you’re the third contestant, it’s likely you won’t get another chance, so if you are in those seats (third or above) you really have to just go all in, all the way.
SH: Judd, I’d like to run through your game in a bit more detail now, in the hope that that’ll be helpful for our readers. Now, your first two questions were…

Which of these is not the name of a Melbourne Cup winning jockey?

(3 names + the joke answer “Anita Winn”)

A cultural phenomenon beginning in the early 2000s were impromptu group performances known as what?

(Flash mobs)

Your answered both of these easily, but then your third question was….

The options being:

A) Lasagne

B) Pizza

C) Macaroni and cheese

D) Garlic bread.

Judd, when you passed at that point, were you thinking that your ‘Hot Seat’ journey was over? Or were you thinking that the other five contestants would all cycle through, and you’d get a chance to get back into the Hot Seat again before the episode was done?

JF: As I mentioned earlier, I’d always wanted to pass early – in fact, the earlier the better – so as soon as I had the slightest hesitation in my answer I decided I’d pass. Almost as soon as I left the chair, “Pizza” dropped into my head, but I was completely happy with the pass.

SH: And lo and behold… the other five contestants DID all cycle through, and you found yourself back in the Hot Seat again, with a shot at the new top prize of $50,000. What were you thinking at that moment?

JF: I can only reiterate this calm feeling I had that I was going to win. In my head It was like someone is watching over me and “it was all just meant to be.”

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Aha! But WAS Judd’s win actually ‘all meant to be’?** You’ll have to check back here next Tuesday to find out!

* For those of you playing along at home, it was Nike.
** SPOILER ALERT: Yes.

My EXCLUSIVE interview with ‘Millionaire Hot Seat’ Winner Judd Field! Part III

Hello and welcome to the third part of my chat with Judd, about his Millionaire Hot Seat experience.
You’ll see at the start of this section that I bombarded poor Judd with a load of questions about his experience in the studio on the record day, but I must confess I was surprised by the direction our conversation took after that…
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SH: I understand that Hot Seat tapes six episodes on each record day… before we get down to the nitty-gritty of your particular game, Judd, can you talk a bit about the studio experience itself?
What surprised you about the way the day was run?
What did you notice about other contestants, and the way they handled it?
How did you manage your energy levels?
Were there any elements of the show itself – such as the studio audience, the host Eddie McGuire, the speed of proceedings, or even the physicality of the set, the brightness of the lights, the loudness of the music – that surprised you?
JF: Having done a lot of TV work in my singing career, the whole studio lights stuff didn’t faze me at all. You soon realise that it’s all smoke and mirrors, and that TV sets always look smaller in real life.
They provided a light lunch and some snacks for the audience during the show.
All the waiting contestants became the audience for the other shows. There was very little turnaround time between each of the three episodes recorded before lunch; basically they move the new contestants’ audience partners into the stand directly behind the contestants chairs as they are filing the new contestants into the stage and it all starts again. It was hard to even duck out to the toilet once the machine was rolling! They don’t pause very long for ad breaks and so just fire from one segment to the next almost straight away; it’s all very fast-paced.
The lady seated beside me on the show was super nervous. She had flown in from Perth the night before. I felt for her and tried to make a few light-hearted jokes to relax her. But she settled down and actually won the ‘Fastest Finger First’ section, so she walked away with the $1000 cheque. Some of the other contestants in my episode were also clearly nervous.
I did feel quite sorry for the other contestants; it’s a long day to get maybe one question that just happens to be the curly one, out of your field, and bang, you are going home to Perth with nothing. I was also fortunate that my episode was the second one recorded on the day, so I got to watch episode one, which helped me settle… and then I basically got to relax for the rest of the day! I felt for those episode 1 contestants (with no warm up to watch), and also for the last two episodes’ contestants; having to nervously wait all day must have been torture.
I will also add the importance of being calm and relaxed will definitely help you think clearly. If you are a meditation type or religious praying type, I think that will all definitely give you something to fall back on in the heat.
For me my faith definitely helped me have a quiet confidence. Now, this may all sound bizarre, and maybe even far-fetched… but if you want to honestly know how I felt emotionally, this is how it went down for me. I had had a very, very rough few weeks prior to the show. My house had been broken into, my wife had been in hospital, my kids had been going through school bullying issues, and I’d had a business deal go sour with a “friend”. He was trying to take a project from me that I had been working on for three years.

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My EXCLUSIVE interview with ‘Millionaire Hot Seat’ Winner Judd Field! Part II

Hello and welcome to the second part of my chat with Judd Field. When we left off last week, Judd had successfully got through the general knowledge test part of the audition, he’d made a good impression in the camera test, and he’d received the call telling him he’d been selected to appear on the show! Now read on…
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SH: When did you record your particular episode of Millionaire Hot Seat?
JF: My episode was postponed from an initial late January record, to Mon 18th of Feb 2019.
SH: And when did your episode air, and what was it like keeping your BIG SECRET in the meantime?
JF: I was initially told the episode would air sometime in May… then about two weeks prior, I was emailed and told the episode would air 30th April. The BIG SECRET was a delightful torment haha… I wanted to shout it from the roof sometimes. But after telling my wife, we decided to keep it a complete surprise. We even kept it from our kids. They knew I had gone on the show, but at the time we just told our kids we had won $1000, to put them off the scent.
So we cunningly decided to have a special surprise watching party for our family and friends. It was actually a lot of fun to have this big “secret”. Family and friends were all bamboozled, and it was quite hilarious, particularly in the week leading up to the surprise. All the theories our friends and family had, some thought we were pregnant, some thought we were moving overseas. Good fun.
So it was hilarious to watch their reactions when I finally turned on the telly to the show live, and shared the excitement with them all. I even filmed their priceless reactions. And so nice to share the night with the nearest and dearest.
SH: That’s brilliant, Judd. Well played! I’d love to know about the preparation you did for your appearance on the show. When did you start preparing (assuming you did!), and can you talk us through what you did?

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My EXCLUSIVE interview with ‘Millionaire Hot Seat’ Winner Judd Field! Part I

Hello and welcome to my latest EXCLUSIVE interview, and this time it’s with Judd Field, a contestant who recently had a very good run on Millionaire Hot Seat, here in Australia. It’s a multi-parter, and Judd goes in to a lot of detail about the entire adventure… so let’s get right into it!

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SH: Judd Field, hello and welcome! Thanks so much for talking to me for HowToWinGameShows.com today. You, sir, are a certified, genuine brand new game show winner, so firstly – congratulations! Now, the show that you were on – Millionaire Hot Seat – is an offshoot of the original Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? format, but it has some significant differences, doesn’t it? Some regular visitors to this site may be unfamiliar with its format, so could you give us a quick description of how the show works?

JF: Hey thanks kind sir, pleasure to share my two cents with you! The Hot Seat version starts with six contestants sitting in random preset order. They compete in a ‘Fastest Finger First’ series of 15 questions, for a cheque for $1000. The winner of this cheque can then trade that in for a lifeline, once they get into the Hot Seat, which is when the normal Millionaire question format begins.
The Hot Seat twist is that for the other 5 contestants, there are no lifelines. However, all contestants can pass if they don’t know the answer. The next contestant then jumps in the Hot seat and has to answer that question. (They’re not allowed to pass on that question).
When a question is answered incorrectly, the player leaves the game with nothing, a new contestant jumps into the Hot seat and continues to answer from wherever the previous contestant was up to (total prize money-wise), however the potential total prize money is reduced.
So for the first question answered incorrectly, the total prize money available goes from $1,000,000 down to $500,000 and so on… reduced by one level for every incorrect answer.
This continues until the final question, and whoever is in the Hot seat for that final question either wins that final reduced amount, or wins $1000. Everyone else (except the Fastest Finger First $1000 cheque winner) walks away with nothing.
Gosh…that wasn’t exactly brief sorry, I feel like I was describing Aussie Rules footy to an American.

SH: No worries at all, love that detail! To begin with, I’d like to establish the timeline for your Millionaire Hot Seat adventure. When did you initially register your interest, or apply to go on the show?

JF: June 2018.

SH: When did you audition?
JF: August 2018.
SH: And when did you get The Call to say you were on?
JF: November 2018. Just a side note to this audition process… I think being from Melbourne, and the show being recorded in Melbourne, was an advantage in my getting on the show. The lady who sat beside me in my episode was from Perth and had auditioned 8 years ago! She had almost forgotten she had auditioned.
In my episode there were only 2 contestants from interstate.
I know it is all about ratings, and I know they want a “mixed bag” of contestants (old / young / male / female / ethnicity etc) so maybe there were too many of her “type”, and maybe my stupid abnormal hair and singing career meant I might have been a more “entertaining” choice… and so I think I got cast pretty quickly in comparison.
Knowing a bit about how TV works, I definitely played up to that angle in my audition, singing to the camera and making sure I had “entertainment value” and humour in all my audition answers.
Would you like a bit more background info about the audition?

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Tell Me Something I Don’t Know!

Hello.

Just a quick one this week – I wanted to let you know about a podcast that I’ve discovered, that you may like too. You may remember that I’ve mentioned the podcast Freakonomics a few times on this blog over the years. Well, this is their very own version of a game show. It’s called Tell Me Something I Don’t Know!, it’s a podcast, and it’s always recorded in front of a live audience.

The goal of the show isto tell you the things you thought you knew but didn’t; and things you never thought you wanted to know, but do.”

Here’s how it runs, according to the show’s official site, “Three celebrity panellists listen as contestants come on stage before a live audience and try to wow them with a fascinating fact, a historical wrinkle, a new line of research — anything, really, as long as it’s interesting, useful and true (or at least true-ish). There’s a real-time human fact-checker on hand to filter out the bull. The panel — an eclectic mix of comedians, brainiacs, and other high achievers — poke and prod the contestants, and ultimately choose a winner.”

There are no huge prizes; the whole raison d’etre of the show is to learn interesting and obscure knowledge while having fun along the way. And it delivers! I subscribe to it, and always find it entertaining and educational. So, if you’re a podcast kind of person, I recommend it. Each episode goes for just under an hour, and you’re guaranteed to learn some cool new stuff each time.

Because I firmly believe you can never have too much obscure, arcane, trivial knowledge. And this is a fun way to get it.

And that’s it for this week – until next Tuesday!

Book review – ‘How To Win TV Quiz Shows’ by CJ de Mooi

cj-de-mooi-book-cover

‘How To Win TV Quiz Shows’ by CJ De Mooi

Hello, and Happy New Year, to one and all ! Here’s hoping that 2017 is happy, healthy and fun for you… and that this is the year that all your game show dreams come true.

My first post for this year is another one of my occasional game show related book reviews. Today I’m looking at the first book by former quiz show champion, and Eggheads star CJ De Mooi. It’s called How To Win TV Quiz Shows and I picked it up as an eBook a while ago from Amazon.

It’s a quick read – just 152 pages – and although it does contain some good information, I wouldn’t say it’s an essential text book on the subject. But if you’re a fan of CJ’s slightly snarky, bitchy onscreen persona, then you’ll probably quite enjoy the ride. He writes in a breezy, chatty style, throwing in plenty of his trademark sarcastic barbs along the way.

The book begins with a potted history of CJ’s personal journey – from being quiz show contestant, to being a quiz show winner, to being a quiz show regular cast member. I must confess, I found his personality a bit hard to take during the relating of his life story. A pattern seemed to emerge in this part of the book; he’d repeatedly big-note his wins, then describe his losses as ‘injustices’, while assuring the reader that he’s over them now anyway.

An example of this comes when he relates how on one game show, he was only one second away from answering the final question in a 60 second round, when the timer went off. He complains that contestants not being able to see the clock is a major game flaw, and that this is unfair. To be fair, that’s how it’s usually done, CJ.

This very personal chapter concludes with him telling us that he’s now quit Eggheads, in order to pursue his dream of acting. And he’s happy; he goes to the gym every day, moisturises, and doesn’t care in the slightest what anyone thinks of him.

Hmm….

I can’t help thinking that if he’s telling us that he goes to the gym and moisturises every day, then he cares very much what everyone thinks of him.

Chapter 2 goes through the processes of getting on to quiz shows. This is a UK-centric book, and so the practical tips are all UK-based. He breaks down the reasons that people might have for applying for game shows and goes through them in more detail one by one. There are some useful tips here, such as the middle-aged white man (a demographic that’s generally over-represented on quiz shows) being selected time and time again due to drawing a little rainbow flag on the top of his application forms. Sometimes, positive discrimination works!

This is followed by a very comprehensive account of what you can expect on a studio record day.

Later chapters see CJ interviewing some other quiz show winners; Pat Casey (winner on The Chase and Tipping Point), serial WWTBAM contestant Paddy Spooner and British and European championship quizzer Gareth Kingston. But I’m not sure if I liked the way that he did this; rather than laying things out in a question and answer format, he’s reworked the content of the interviews into a prose, indirect speech format. Along the lines of “Paddy has an illuminating point”… “Paddy mentions his six year old daughter”, “Gareth advised always going in with a game plan”, and so on. This left me wondering exactly what CJ’s interview subjects did say to him in answer to his questions, and exactly how much has CJ paraphrased their responses.

As the book comes towards a conclusion, there’s a chapter titled ‘The Future’, which contains more practical tips about the why and how of getting on game shows – how you apply, etc., etc. It’s all sound advice, but not exactly inside knowledge. He’s a great advocate of joining an organised quizzing league (such as the ones that can be found here), which I think is certainly a good way of brushing up your knowledge, and exercising those question-answering muscles. He also recommends writing quiz questions, in order to get into the mindset of a quiz question writer. I’ve always thought that this is a great tip, and we’ve mentioned it many times here on the blog over the years.

The final chapter goes into more detail about how to write questions, and contains one list that I found interesting. It’s CJ’s Top Ten Topics that you should be well-versed in, if you’re looking for quizzing success. (I think the first one may be a bit anglo-centric, but here they are:)

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A radio interview!

Hello! Something a little bit different this week. A few weeks ago, I received a call from a radio producer in Sydney asking if I’d be interested in being interviewed by Bec De Unamuno for an ABC radio segment on game shows.

Bec De Unamuno

Bec De Unamuno

Now, I’ve known Bec for years and so was extremely happy to have a chat about this subject close to my (and, I’m guessing, your) heart. In the interview, Bec also spoke to Andrew O’Keefe, another old pal who currently hosts The Chase Australia, and hosted the Australian version of Deal Or No Deal for a number of years.

Former host of 'Deal Or No Deal' and current host of 'The Chase Australia'... Andrew O'Keefe!

Former host of ‘Deal Or No Deal’ and current host of ‘The Chase Australia’… Andrew O’Keefe!

So, if you’re interested in hearing what a game show host and a game show winner / blogger have to say, then this 18 minutes and 25 seconds of audio may be of interest to you….

The original link to the interview is over on the ABC Radio website, but if you’d prefer to play it now (or right-click and “Save As…” so you can listen to it later), then here it is below!

Enjoy!

 

 

Confessions of a ‘Family Feud’ warm up man… Part VI

 

Russell Fletcher

Russell Fletcher

Hey, I must say it was great to chat to Angela and Andrew on Weekend Sunrise about How To Win Game Shows on Sunday! If you didn’t see our brief interview, you can catch it right here. But now, back to business. And this week, as my chat with Family Feud‘s studio audience host and warm up man Russell Fletcher continues, Russell lifts the curtain on how to find out when the show will next be auditioning, the best mindset to have when playing Family Feud, and what not to say when you’re asked to name a city beginning with D…

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SH: This is the third year now of Family Feud‘s run on Channel Ten – it started in 2014?

RF: That’s right. 

SH: It’s been a big success for the network. Has it been renewed through to the end of the year?

RF: Well, we’re going up to June, but we didn’t start until the second half of 2014 so we haven’t been 2 years yet. I guess something that the wider audience might not know is that when auditions opened in May 2014, eight and a half thousand families applied and basically broke the system. Because there are only 2 or 3 producers that can work with the contestants! Everyone else has got other jobs. So we closed auditions down immediately so people who applied back then… we are still working through that number of families. That is a lot of people; that is eight and half thousand by four. 

RF: I am doing auditions tomorrow night in Melbourne and then we have Adelaide coming up very soon. And we just spent a double header this weekend in Sydney with 40 families per day. So we do meet a lot of people. That may be something that the general public might not know. We are about to finish working through that backlog of people. I think they are going to open up the auditions again too. 

SH: That’s good to know, because I did get a few questions on the Facebook page asking “how do I audition for it?” and saying “I went to the Family Feud website, and it said auditions are currently closed”… Well, now we know why. That’s huge. 

RF: It is always worth maybe emailing Fremantle or maybe having a look at tenplay because we are just about to announce that auditions will be opening. I think that would be really good fun because it almost will be like a different market, like a fresh pool of people come to the show. It is really interesting how many  different school groups, media groups who kept coming along for the records, I find that every school teacher, especially the primary school teachers actually play Family Feud with their classes. They do their own survey questions, they survey the class and they have the top answers because it is a fun way of getting to know how everyone thinks. 

SH: It is a Social Sciences exercise, I guess. 

RF: Yes, in a way. How do people think? We have a bunch of camera rehearsal questions and there is one question in there: “Name a city beginning with the letter D” and the first thing you would say….?

SH: Me? Dunedin

RF: Dunedin’s very good. That is on there.  

SH: Or Darwin

RF: Darwin’s the top answer.

SH: Düsseldorf.

RF: Düsseldorf is not zare, sadly, for za cherman peeple. Düsseldorf peeple, don’t be dizappointed. Out of 100 Australians – and I’m not saying these surveys are like Morgan Research or anything – but out of  100 Australians, “Darwin”, “Dublin”, “Dallas”, “Denver”, the greater city of “Dandenong“… Most of our contestants say Denmark. 

SH: (PAUSE) As a city?

RF: Yyyesss…. and all the camera guys know that I hate that response – because I am an atlas guy – and they go “Ooohh….” (LAUGHS) 

SH: The great city of Denmark. Knowing what you know, if you were a contestant on the show, how would you approach it?

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Confessions of a ‘Family Feud’ warm up man… Part IV

the-kitchen-sink

Here’s Russell in his pyjamas, pouring some milk onto the floor.                                                    Note: this is not one of his ‘Family Feud’ duties.

This week, as our chat continues, Russell gives us an insight into the mechanics of contestant selection for the show, and a rundown of what those successful families can expect when they turn up to the Family Feud recording session…

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SH: Just in terms of the practicalities, for those who do get through the audition and then get called in for the studio record day, you generally record five episodes in a day. So you’ll have how many families there? You’d have a couple of spares, wouldn’t you?

RF: That’s right.  We always have standby families who are Melbourne-based families just in case the car goes off and we need two new families for the next episode, not just one. Or someone  who hasn’t been able to turn up. Someone’s been crook, a flight has been delayed for our interstate contestants, all those sorts of reasons. These standby families will get a shot at the next recording day. 

SH: They get bumped up to the top of the next record? 

RF: That’s right. Selecting people and then getting them to turn up on the record days is just a war on logistics. Who is available? Is that exact 4 people available for the record? It seldom happens, but it has happened that they’ll have to get a replacement person because they really want to play but what we told them at the end of the morning sessions in the auditions when we say, “we might not be calling all of you back. So if you haven’t had a phone call by 12:15 you aren’t coming back to play Family Feud and we hope you had a good morning. And thank you and good bye.” 

SH: Just on that – you have a morning session and presumably a lunch break?

RF: Yes.

SH: Do they just hang around?

RF: Yes, they go for a walk.  We do it in South Melbourne, they go up to the Shrine, or they go to South Melbourne Market, or go up to Southbank and come back. Generally they just go and have a coffee.

SH: And then during that break, the producers make their decisions for each family? So they will either get a call while they’re out at lunch saying “thanks but no thanks” or –

RF: No we won’t call those people who are not coming back. This is show business, Stephen – I don’t know if you know it. Sorry about your audition for that insurance commercial, Stephen…

SH: Well no – that was only just in 2012. I’m still waiting to hear… Any day now…

RF: Can you come in for some counselling? Because I can hear there is a bit of shattering in your voice… 

SH: I’ve just got something in my eye, that’s all. 

RF: (LAUGHS) It always gets a laugh. You know that showbiz rule; “don’t call us – we’ll call you”. I say that at the start of the day, at the end of the morning session. All throughout the morning session I will say that, because we say goodbye to them after the interviews. I might not see them again. So I do say to people – as they are going out the door and also at the end of the day – that they might get a call on Monday to say “Can you come in next week?” They might get a call in 3 months, they might get a call in 6 months. It’s like we develop a CIA profile on these people. 

SH: How do you mean?

RF: Just because they give their photos, what they’re like on the form. It’s a very efficient archiving system of those who are successful and those who are not successful. 

SH: So, on the day, during lunchtime, if they don’t get a call by…?

RF: I say 12:15.

SH: If they haven’t heard, you’d say…

RF: Enjoy your life. Thank you. We hope you keep watching. So that’s why I make sure that I am pretty entertaining for the first 15-20 minutes when I work with them and we have fun with those exercises that they do, doing the survey. 

SH: So on the day you record 5 episodes. Are they called there really early? Like way earlier than recording begins? Is there a bit of a wait for them?

RF: Oh yes. Some families are called at about 10 AM, and have to make sure they have 5 sets of clothes in case they go all the way. And that they (their clothes) are camera friendly. We’ve got two wardrobe people who help with that. There’s a green room they go into. Standby families are called a little bit later. We do a camera rehearsal at one o’clock and I host that as well. So I just walk them through a quick run-through for each family, where to stand for fast money, etcetera. That’s obviously for all our camera guys and technical people running the game machine. We make sure the buzzers are working and all of that stuff. It is a good little warm up for them to go “Oh, okay, this is what it is going to be like”, before we load an audience in. We coach them to be energetic with it because once the audience is in they will be shouting out “Pass” or “Play” in certain stages as well. So that is fun. I host, camera rehearsals and we just muck around and make sure it is as relaxed as possible and they don’t have to remember too much. 

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And that’s where we’ll leave it for this week. Next week, we discuss Good Contestants versus Bad Contestants, managing energy levels and the time-frame of the actual record day. And I’ll try to include a picture of Russell where he’s not ruining the carpet.

Until then!

Confessions of a ‘Family Feud’ warm up man… Part III

russell_fletcher

Russell Fletcher

As my chat with Family Feud warm-up person, and studio audience host, Russell Fletcher continues this week, the subject turns to those unexpected moments…

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SH: Do any moments spring to mind where contestants have really surprised you, either for better or for worse?

RF: Having done 470 episodes now, there are lots! People will say things that you don’t expect them to. Like they will make a salacious or rude comment, or a vaguely racist one. And you will just be going “I wasn’t expecting him to say that!” Fortunately it is not live to air and we will say, “Have another go”.

SH: Yes. “Any other thoughts, perhaps?”

RF: For instance, in the very first episode; “Name a yellow fruit”. BZZZ! “Orange?”

And I just go “Umm….” And because we have to have the contestants’ best interests at the core of what we do, we couldn’t put that in the episode. We just couldn’t do it.

SH: It’s a shame…

RF: It would be unconscionable. But what we did do was put it in all the promos for the show! But when it came to the day, it was edited out. And they did quite well. I can remember a really intelligent woman who was a doctor and the question was “Name an African animal you would see at a waterhole”. And “hippo” was up there, and “elephant” was up there, and she couldn’t think of any others and she said “platypus”. And that sort of thing happens all the time because people just don’t connect with the question, or they are having an out-of-body experience; they’re not in the moment, being able to think of different suggestions. The show is a combination of chat and answering questions and really surprising stuff comes out and sometimes it’s really touching, it is really nice. Just last week we had a Filipino family who were reunited after being separated for 33 years. They didn’t know each other existed because of parents’ divorces, etcetera. They had only been reunited three months earlier, they came and auditioned for the show and they got on the show and they’re still getting to know each other. That kind of stuff you just go “Whoa!” And there are people who’ve survived cancer and there’s people who have done amazing things, done stupid things, and they all open up to Grant, because they trust him and he gets them in a weak moment.

SH: But that stuff surely would be pre-screened, wouldn’t it? He’s not hearing this for the first time… 

RF: No. What happens is when they come to the studio, before we start doing anything with them, they are filling out forms; “Name your brush with fame”, “Name something you’re really good at”, “Name something you are embarrassed about”; those kind of questions are on the form and so when they actually make it to the show the writers go through that stuff and then check in with the families who’ve arrived at the studio. And then they go back and check it and then they’ll have a little discussion with Grant and he’ll have it on a card, in little bullet points. That could be about sporting achievements, being able to put their whole fist in their mouths, it could be they’re really good at Irish dancing, they could have met someone incredibly famous… but it was just in a lift. 

SH: But Grant would still get mileage out of even that; the anticlimactic nature of it… 

RF: That’s right. Grant has become so good at taking the piss, in the nicest kind of way. That’s the kind of stuff I find out on the spot, and I love playing with that kind of stuff. 

SH: Where it’s clear that the host isn’t laughing at them, but he is helping them to laugh at themselves.

RF: And sometimes we laugh at them…

SH: But they do too. That’s important. No one’s feelings are hurt. 

RF: The whole thing is about reading people and being able to take it in the direction you think that’s going to work. And that goes for both the audition and the recordings. 

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Next time, Russell reveals more about the mechanics of the record day, and breaks down how the audition process actually works on an audition day. Again, all greatly useful stuff to know, if you’re thinking of auditioning for the show.

Until next Tuesday, then!