My EXCLUSIVE interview with the voice of ‘The Price Is Right’, ‘Wheel of Fortune’, ‘Family Feud’, ‘Deal Or No Deal’, and more… Mr John Deeks! Part III

John Deeks

Hello!

And welcome to the third instalment of my chat with The Man With The Golden Voice; John Deeks! And if you’d like to hear a little sample of that famous voice, just click on the audio file in the top right corner of this page.

When we left off last week, we were discussing the Australian version of the game show institution that IS Wheel Of Fortune. It was a show that Deeksie provided the voice for, for over two decades, so I felt I just had to ask him….

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SH: The different Wheel of Fortune hosts that came and went over the years… what were some of the differences that you noticed between them?

JD: “Turps” was a man of the people he was out there, and the crew loved him and he loved the crew; he just loved people. He was as open as the people were, and he was up for anything. He was true ‘Leagues Club“. 

SH: Yeah.

JD: Burgo, though, was a different kettle of fish, he was more reserved. I would be the everyman and he was sort of above all that, and Adrey, of course, was just gorgeous.

SH: Rob Elliott did it for a while.

JD: Rob Elliott did it for a while, yes absolutely. Rob was great, but he was the most reluctant host I’ve ever known. He wasn’t quite depressive, but he was “Oh, the system hates me”. Eventually he said to the network, “Look I just don’t think I can do this anymore”, and they said………… “Yep, fair enough” and they got someone else.

SH: So his heart wasn’t in it?

JD: His heart wasn’t in it. Then Steve Oemcke did it for a short time, believe it or not.

SH: Did he have a background in sports?

JD: No he has a production company, WTFN and he’s a great guy, a lovely guy. But I tell you, Stephen, I’m just so fortunate because I was offered to go to New Zealand to host Wheel of Fortune over there. And thank God I didn’t take it, because I’m better as the ‘Level 2’ man; I’ll take level 2, because I love supporting the talent. I love it, I really do! I don’t want to be out the front, supporting these amazing hosts. For a long time, as you know, I worked with Andrew O’Keefe (who hosted Deal Or No Deal) who is without question the best performer I have ever worked with in my life. He’s so disciplined in front of the camera. He can come in, learn and process a whole load of information that would take a whole year for me, and he would do it in one night. And he would come in and he would perform on his feet all day, interacting with people, laughing, joking… and you wouldn’t know that he’d had a big night the night before.

SH: And was probably going to have a big night after the record, too. 

JD: Exactly.

SH: Unstoppable.

JD: Loads of heart, a man of the people, funny to work with, and we shared the same wicked sense of humour, too. So I miss him dreadfully to work with. Pretty much everyone I’ve worked with has been very generous, because they’ve got that I’m not a threat. I don’t want their job. I want to make them look the best they can. It was like when I used to work with Debbie (Debbie Phin, with whom Deeksie hosted lotto draws for years) or anyone I work with on camera; the better I can make them look, the better I look, the better the whole thing looks.

SH: That’s right.

JD: But it’s got to come from the heart. 

SH: Exactly. You mentioned that you’ve always been happy to have that supportive – and supporting – role.

JD: Yeah, very happy. 

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…. AND YET, as we’ll see next week, Deeksie is about to be thrust into the spotlight, as the host of one of the most beloved game shows of all time.

How did that come about?

How did he handle it?

And how long did it last?

My EXCLUSIVE interview with the voice of ‘The Price Is Right’, ‘Wheel of Fortune’, ‘Family Feud’, ‘Deal Or No Deal’, and more… Mr John Deeks! Part II

John Deeks

Hello!

And welcome to the second instalment of my interview with TV game show voice over legend John Deeks.

Before we go any further, I’d like to thank John for very kindly recording a little welcome announcement for the site, which you can see on the top right corner of this page! If you click on it, you’ll hear his dulcet tones bidding you a warm welcome, as only he can.

But now, as we pick up our conversation, we’re still discussing the Melbourne version of The Price Is Right which was shot at Festival Hall back in the eighties…

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JD: It was a huge show with massive sets, with lots of cars, and a huge audience, in the right part of town.

SH: How many were in the audience? 

JD: Oh, 300 – 400. It was jolly big.

SH: For a studio audience for a TV show, that’s very big.

JD: Huge. And the later versions were never on that scale; when we tried to do The New Price Is Right, they really cheapened it. They did it in this tiny studio in Sydney, Larry Emdur was the host, and I think they gave away like a Goggomobil; it was one of the cheapest cars you could find.

SH: As you say, you were the voice of the show and you did its warm ups, from a position in the audience. As such, you would have watched thousands of episodes; would that be fair to say?

JD: Yes.

SH: Were there any times when you were watching, thinking, “No – don’t do that! You’re supposed to be doing this”?

JD: The best people we had – and this applies to all of the shows – except where intelligence is really required, (and thank God I never worked on shows where intelligence was a prerequisite! And I mean that with love). I’ve never worked on a Sale of The Century, that sort of show; they’ve all been game shows and I love the format of the game show; I love the repetitive nature of it; I just really, really enjoy it. You either do or you don’t. I did. But the common thread amongst all those people is that they were natural. They gave of themselves. You can’t have too many barriers; you have to say “Here I am, World!” 

SH: Warts and all?

JD: Yeah, warts and all. The best ones were the ones who had character; they would come out and just be themselves. If they had friends in the audience they could interact with them, so we’d shoot them as well and they got the game. Because I always told the audience, “You are part of the production process. We just come along with this template every week. The template works and now it’s up to you to put the flavour in it.”

SH: And you were also the voice of Wheel of Fortune from 1984-2006.

JD: 22 years, yeah!

SH: Incredible! So again that must have been thousands of episodes, maybe tens of thousands of episodes?

JD: Stop counting.

SH: Sorry.

JD: No, not you – I did.

SH: Oh, you stopped counting.

JD: Yeah, yeah.

SH: I see. Was that always in Adelaide?

JD: Yes it was. Until (co-host) Adriana ran out of husbands, and then we moved it to Sydney.

SH: Right.

JD: Well, there was a bigger pool…

(LAUGHTER)

SH: Yes, sure.

JD: And also, (host) John (Burgess) needed to get new leather pants.

SH: Right.

JD: We’d fly there every Friday to record five shows, and sometimes we had to do ten. It was like; “Oh my God – we are doing ten shows; five on a Friday, five on a Saturday as well!” But now, of course, they’re always churned out that way; ka-chunka, ka-chunka, ka-chunka!

SH: The show had a few hosts over that time… starting with Ernie Sigley, I think?

JD: Ernie was there… and then I was going to be the host after Ernie left.

SH: Interesting!

JD: But I was doing The Price is Right at the same time, and they said “No, you can’t do that; you’ll have to stay on The Price is Right.”

SH: These are both Seven Network productions?

JD: Yeah. So I’ve said “Oh, okay.” Then of course a little time later Price finished, and over at Wheel of Fortune in Adelaide, the guy who’d been doing my job (the voice job), was cleaning leaves out of his gutter, and fell off the ladder.

That I pushed.

And they asked if I could come over for the weekend to do shows, and I said “Sure, but I want to do the warm up as well”. They said “Knock yourself out, kid” (because that was what I was used to doing on The Price Is Right.So I came over one weekend, and 20 years later…  I’m still receiving death threats from the guy who I –

(LAUGHTER)

SH: Can he walk again?

JD: I felt terrible about that night.

SH: That’s showbiz.

JD: It is showbiz, and you know what they say; “Never take a holiday”.

SH: Never take a holiday.

JD: Or clean out the gutters.

SH: Or clean out the gutters.

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Mmm. Good advice for us all.

Join us here next week, for Part III, when Deeksie discusses Wheel of Fortune‘s various hosts, and reveals his favourite Australian game show host of all time! 

My EXCLUSIVE interview with the voice of ‘The Price Is Right’, ‘Wheel of Fortune’, ‘Family Feud’, ‘Deal Or No Deal’, and more… Mr John Deeks! Part I

The incomparable John Deeks

Hello!

This week, I’m very pleased to bring you Part I of my latest exclusive interview for HowToWinGameShows.com. I was delighted, recently, to get the chance to talk to a real Living Legend of the Australian game show landscape. This man has been the voice behind THOUSANDS of episodes of our favourite game shows. He was the voice of Wheel Of Fortune, he was the voice of The Price Is Right, he’s a former host of Family Feud, and after almost 40 years in television, he shows absolutely no signs of slowing down…

He’s also a really lovely bloke, as well. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s the one and only John Deeks!

================================================================== SH: John Deeks, thank you so much for talking to me for HowToWinGameShows.com.

JD: My pleasure, Stephen.

SH: It has been – and continues to be – a very long and illustrious career, but I want to take you back to the early eighties, to start with. You were the voice of the Australian version of The Price Is Right from 1981 to 1985.

JD: The Price Is Right was a fantastic show and it was the first game show I did. For a start, we were doing it at Festival Hall, which was massive. And it was the first time I had worked with Ian Turpie. And I had seen him many years before at the HSV Teletheatre in Fitzroy, when my mum took me to see a show and I remember being in the audience and seeing him and Olivia Newton-John. This was in a show called Time For Terry…. back in the 1800s.

(LAUGHTER)

JD: So Festival Hall was sensational, and the audience was mostly made up of our European friends. Because over on Channel 9 you had Tony Barber doing Sale of the Century, where you had to know who the third King of Prussia was (and that wasn’t a question, so don’t answer it, smartarse)*… they couldn’t get that, but they knew how much a fridge was.

SH: Which is what that show is.

JD: Exactly. And our audience had a very large Maltese contingent. There was one instance… and I should point out that I had requested that I do audience warmup as well as being the show’s announcer, so I was integrated into the audience. And Ian Turpie would throw to me and I would say “Mary Vostopopolous! Come on down!”  And Mary on this particular day jumped up – and back in the early 80s, boobtubes were very popular…

SH: Yes…

JD: You know where this is going, don’t you?

SH: I have a rough idea.

JD: And Mary Vostopopolous was a fulsome middle aged lady. So Mary leapt up, and they caught her on camera and, as she ran down to the stage, her very fulsome bosoms went NorthSouthNorthSouthNorthSouthNorthSouth. And as she charged down the stairs, with her arms outstretched, Mary’s top started to slide and slide and slide… and by the time she got to the bottom of the stairs, it was a belt. A very big belt. But Turps handled it brilliantly; he ran up to her and gave her a cuddle while we all tried to get our act together.

There was another time when a very large woman grabbed my hand as she ran past me – because I was positioned in the audience itself – and she’s pulled me out of my seat and taken me with her as she barreled down towards the stage. Now this lady must have been 15 or 16 stone (210 lb – 224 lb, 95 kg – 101 kg). And she’s reached the stage (Did you ever go to the wrestling at Festival Hall? Anyway…) She’s reached the stage, and tripped over, taking me with her; I fell as well.

Thank God she broke my fall.

SH: Oh! There was a bit of ‘cushioning’ there?

JD: A lot of cushioning. So it was an interesting time.

SH: Was she okay? Did she carry on and go on the show?

JD: Yeah, yeah I was okay – thanks for asking.

LAUGHTER

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And that’s where we’ll leave it for this week. Next time, Deeksie reflects on Family Feud, and Wheel of Fortune, and discusses what separated the successful contestants from the unsuccessful ones. Until next Tuesday, then.

The Game Show Humane Society would like to advise that no 15 or 16 stone Price Is Right contestants were harmed in the making of this blog post.

* Looks like Deeksie might have been throwing in a trick question here; it seems Prussia only ever had two Kings Of it: King Frederick I (1701 – 1713) and King Wilhelm II (1888 -1918). There were many Kings In Prussia, though.

Controversial.

“Aaaall…. All Star Squares! The fun and the laughter, it’s okay, you can remember your cares again now.”

Hello and welcome to this, the final chapter of my three-part series on the 1999 Australian game show All Star Squares, on which I was employed as a question and gag writer.

You can find the two previous instalments here and here.

And what better way to kick off this week’s final instalment, than with a reminder of the show’s theme song, and one of the alternative versions that Adam Richard and I came up with?

“Aaaall…. All Star Squares! Beneath a Scotsman’s kilt there’s NO UNDERWEAR!”

Fact. 

Anyhoo, here’s the conclusion to the three-part All Star Squares adventure. Enjoy! If you can…..

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I have very fond memories of all the production staff, many of whom I’ve worked with on subsequent gigs over the years, the cheerful, gracious and charming host Ian Rogerson who was a pleasure to get to know, and the legendary voice-over man Gavin Wood. Gavin was a huge part of the soundtrack to my adolescence. In fact, he was a huge part of the soundtrack to all of Australia’s adolescence, as he was the voice of the legendary pop weekly pop music show Countdown. Countdown, hosted by Ian “Molly” Meldrum was required viewing for every Australian teenager from 1974 until the late 80s, and it is not to be confused with the rather sedate English game show of the same name.

In fact, years later, I auditioned to play Gavin in the telemovie of Molly’s life. But that’s another long story. Actually, no it’s not; it’s a short one. I didn’t get the part. Ed Kavalee did.

Anyhoo… All-Star Squares was recorded, as most game shows are, in five-episode blocks, with a week’s worth of episodes being shot in one recording session.

“Aaaall…. All Star Squares! I always get my steak cooked medium rare!”

And it’s just as well it was pre-recorded, because there were quite a few bloopers, particularly with some of the greener celebrities mentioned earlier. Bloopers were also  sometimes due to the fact that in the show’s Green Room… alcohol was provided. So by the time it came to record Friday’s show, some of the All-Stars were a little less sober than they might have been at the start of Monday’s show. I remember one instance in particular, where a certain celebrity who I’m reluctant to name here (although his actual name is Michael Caton) was asked a question which he’d decided to use his joke answer on. The exchange was meant to go like this;

HOST IAN ROGERSON: What is a “tittle”*?

MICHAEL: Easy there Ian, this is a family show!

And much laughter all around. Yeah, alright, alright – I never said any of it was comedy gold.

BUT, on the day, Ian mis-read the question and Michael didn’t listen, steaming ahead with his “joke” answer anyway, so that what we got was;

HOST IAN ROGERSON: What is a title?

MICHAEL: Easy there Ian, this is a family show!

Ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmm……………..

What a totally mystifying moment. W.T., as the kids say, F?

“Aaaall…. All Star Squares! Did your Mum not tell you? It’s Not Nice To Stare!”

In the end, the show did not rate well for the network. The celebrities were paid many, many, many times what we were, and it was an expensive show for the network to make, for the 5:30 time slot, as a lead-in to the news. It didn’t pay its way, and so about six months into the run, the axing of the show was announced. I was sad, but had other work to go to… I was worried how Kim would take the news, but she was remarkably philosophical about it. I do remember, though, at the time we both said we’d miss the “delightful Duc d’O chocolates” that we received every week. Duc d’O had a sponsorship deal with the show, and each week, each celebrity got to take home an enormous box of Duc d’O chocolate truffles.

And yes, they truly were delightful.

“Aaaall…. All Star Squares! I feel like distracting you – LOOK OVER THERE!”

Looking back now, All-Star Squares remains a real curiosity of the late 90s Australian game show landscape. It was a lighthearted, general public game show, easy to play along with at home, with many different types of humour – not to mention many different types of human – all crammed into that enormous 3 x 3 celebrity grid, working their bums off to convince us they were having The Best Time Ever.

It was a fun show, and its heart was in the right place. With a bit more money, and a less brutally unforgiving time-slot, it may have had a better chance to stick around, and pursue its noble goal….

to boldly make us Forget All Our Cares.

As the theme song says (right at the end, just as it’s fading out)….

Ooooh, I love my All-Star Squares….

 

* For those playing along at home, a “tittle” is actually the technical term for the dot on top of a lower case “i” or a “j”.

So now you know that.

A Public Service Announcement. Sort Of.

Hello! Just a very quick, non-Tuesday extra-curricular post today, to let you know about something I’m doing this month.

I’m taking part in FebFast – swearing off alcohol for the month of February, for a very good cause.

FebFast helps raise funds for disadvantaged young people in Australia. From overcoming mental health issues and the impact of abuse and neglect, to finding safe housing and tackling drug and alcohol problems, FebFast funds youth workers who connect with young people experiencing disadvantage and ultimately help them stand on their own two feet.

I’ve pledged to be alcohol-free for the month of February, and if there’s a chance you’d be able to sponsor me in this endeavour – for any amount – it’d really help to make a difference.

For all the details, simply click on this deliberately ironically chosen picture of the floating head of Isaac, The Love Boat’s bartender.

Thank you for reading this far, and I’ll be back on Tuesday, with the conclusion to my piece on All Star Squares (TheFunAndTheLaughterForgetAllYourCares).

Until then…

Cheers,

Slainte,

Salut,

 

Erm…

Thanks,

Stephen.

 

“Aaaall… All Star Squares! The fun and laughter, keep forgetting all your cares!”

Hello, and welcome to Part Two of my three-part trip down Memory Lane to 1999, and my time working on the 5:30 weekday game show All Star Squares.

Last week, I introduced the show, and the fact that one of the other question / gag writers Adam Richard and I used to come up with alternatives to the opening line of the show’s theme song:

 “Aaaall…. All Star Squares! Examples of furniture? Tables and chairs!”

Anyway, today I move on the production process, and the part that we writers were required to play, after submitting our questions….

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After the questions were all compiled, the writers would each be assigned a celebrity or two for that week’s record. We’d then meet with the celebrities in the Green Room before the show, and go through all the questions they could potentially be asked in the upcoming shows, along with their correct answers, their incorrect answers and their joke answers. This part of the process was quite consultative; the celebrities could choose whether they wanted to answer correctly or incorrectly in the show, and whether they wanted to do the joke we’d provided for them, or – in consultation with us – to come up with an alternative joke to do, once they were on set.

One of my favourite celebrities to do this with was Tim Smith. Tim was a comedian and comedy writer himself, so he was really appreciative of our efforts, and working with him and writing with him was a sheer joy. He was such a lovely, generous collaborator and we always came up with joke answers for him that were way better than the originals. We also laughed a hell of a lot during the process. Working with Tim this way was extra special for me, as he was a mentor for me when I started doing stand-up comedy back in 1987, at the age of 17. He took me under his wing and welcomed me to a few stand up venues around Melbourne, and I will always be in his debt for that. Such a funny, fun, warm generous man.

“Aaaall…. All Star Squares! My favourite depilatory lotion is Nair (TM) !”

By contrast, some of the greener celebrities, or celebrities who were not performers, were absolutely terrified before the show. Often they were athletes, or people who were not accustomed to telling jokes or speaking in public for a living. On these occasions, I would try to be as empathetic, gentle and reassuring with them as possible in the Green Room; we never insisted that they do the jokes answers, because jokes were clearly so far out of their comfort zones.

“Aaaall…. All Star Squares! Most Bond villains live in an underground lair!”

Appearing on All Star Squares was not necessarily an easy gig for a celebrity. There was pressure to keep the wacky, zany energy up, there was the potential to look a bit silly by either not knowing the answers, or delivering the jokes badly, or just generally appearing self-conscious. And it could be argued that it would be hard not to appear self-conscious, sitting behind a desk, dancing around as best you can, while being surrounded by a giant spice rack, populated with eight other celebrities.

“Aaaall…. All Star Squares! In Poker, a Straight Flush always beats Two Pair!”

Nor was this an easy gig for the producers. In a country as small as Australia, with an entertainment industry as small as ours, it was a challenge for them, week in, week out, to find nine celebrities for the show who’d be willing to do it, and do it well. In fact I remember the great comedian Tony Martin doing a bit of stand up about this, wondering out loud… what happens on those quiet weeks when the producers can’t rustle up nine celebrities? Do they just cover the top three squares with tarpaulins and soldier on?

The show did have its regulars, though; Tottie Goldsmith, the aforementioned Tim Smith and Melbourne based comedian Kim Hope. I had known Kim for a number of years through Melbourne comedy circles, and it was around this time that we started going out together. This added an extra layer of frisson, excitement and romance to that initial (and as it turned out only) season of All Star Squares.

The fun and the laughter, indeed…

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Sorry to get all personal and sentimental at the end there, but hey – this is my blog, and they’re my memories, so there.

Next week, as this How To Win Game Shows Behind-The-Scenes Reminiscence – or HTWGSBTSR (TM) – concludes, I look at a couple of memorable bloopers that (thankfully) never made it to air, as we wrap the whole thing up. 

Until next Tuesday! 

“Aaaall…. All Star Squares! Stockbrokers advise you to buy Blue Chip Shares!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Aaaall…. All Star Squares! The fun and the laughter, forget all your cares!”

Hello.

This week sees the first instalment in my latest three-part series of patented How To Win Game Shows Behind-The-Scenes Reminiscences (TM).

Or HTWGSBTSR (TM). Catchy, eh?

And this time around, I’m talking about the 1999 game show All-Star Squares. This was a short-lived adventure for me as a game show question writer, given that the show only lasted for about six months…

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All-Star Squares was essentially a reboot and re-branding of the classic game show The Hollywood Squares (known in some territories as Celebrity Squares, and in Japan as 3 TIMES 3 IS QUIZ! Seriously.) This show had been on Australian TV before, back in late sixties, and again in 1981… and then in 1999 The Powers That Be at Channel Seven decided it was time for a reboot.

I must have heard about it through the grapevine in late 1998. At that stage, I’d just finished my first year as a full-time professional TV writer on the daily afternoon show Denise and had also served time as a gag writer for In Melbourne Tonight, which was my second professional TV writing gig, after submitting sketches and jokes for Full Frontal.

Anyway, the point is, that the word went around that this new game show was looking for gag writers who could also write general knowledge questions. Although I was writing for BackBerner at the time, I figured this was part-time, and I could fit it in too, so I jumped at the chance. Among others, I found myself working with my long-time writing colleague and best friend Vin Hedger, and Adam Richard, both of whom I’ve interviewed for this site.

I remember that, in attempts to make each other laugh, Adam and I would often rework the opening lyrics to the All Star Squares theme song. As you can hear here, the original is;

“Aaaall…. All Star Squares! The fun and the laughter, forget all your cares!”

But Adam and I came up with alternative versions, including, but not limited to;

“Aaaall…. All Star Squares! Some folks like straight trousers, but others wear flares!”

“Aaaall…. All Star Squares! Male horses are stallions, and females are mares!”

“Aaaall…. All Star Squares! You can’t catch the train if you don’t pay your fares!”

And various others that I’m not able to repeat here on a family-friendly blog.

All-Star Squares was a unique gig for a joke writer, not to mention a question writer. If you’re unfamiliar with the format of the show, it’s essentially Noughts & Crosses (or Tic-Tac-Toe)… In order to score a point, the contestant chooses one of 9 celebrities, and the host asks that celebrity a general knowledge question. When the celebrity answers, the contestant decides whether the celebrity is right or wrong. If the contestant decides correctly, they score a point.

We writers were asked to submit questions for the show in batches; I think there might have been 20 questions per batch. And for each of those 20 questions, we had to provide:

  • The question,
  • The correct answer to the question,
  • One incorrect (but potentially convincing) answer to the question,
  • One joke answer to the question,
  • And two solid references to verify the accuracy of the question and its correct answer.

If memory serves, they paid us less than $5 a question for all that. Coming up with a fresh, interesting, usable question – and all of those other elements particularly a joke answer that would work, given the restrictions of the show (family audience, 5:30 time-slot, celebrities with varying degrees of comic ability, conservative network execs, etc, etc) – would often take one to two hours. They’d never get away with paying us so poorly now, and I’m not sure why we all said “Yes” to the deal back then.

Young and hungry for work, I suppose.

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

Next week, as this HTWGSBTSR (TM) continues, I’ll take you through the pre-show process of prepping the celebrities in the Green Room. This was the weekly ritual before they all ventured out onto the studio floor and climbed up into their nine individual, hermetically sealed celebrity cells…

Until then, please do try to forget all your cares.

 

 

 

Game shows: The Cutting Edge

A photo of the primordial soup, snapped billions and billions of years ago.

The Game Show has been a highly adaptable form of entertainment, since The Very Dawn of Time. 

Well, maybe not the very dawn of time… I mean, the earliest unicellular lifeforms drifting about in the primordial soup probably weren’t all that great at pop culture, geography, or sports trivia. Word puzzles? They’d have been useless. Guessing which briefcase contained the big money? Not a chance in hell. And of course they didn’t stand a chance when the subject was history.

Because there hadn’t been any yet.

No, come to think of it, game shows have not been adaptable since The Very Dawn of Time, and I’m now sorry I wrote that. But game shows are adaptable these days. And that, I think, is the point of this week’s guest post from Mr Ryan Vickers. Now read on… 

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My Life in Game Shows

Episode 14: Game show as technology – ‘Complete the List’, 2017

With the advent of so many different platforms such as Netflix filling in for what used to have been our television watching, something else great has come down the chute – podcasting and apps. And with podcasting and apps has come internet game shows. Played mostly for pride and not for prizes, this allows anyone with an internet connection to play from the comfort of their home. The hottest thing going right now is HQ Trivia, an app whereby hundreds of thousands of players try to get twelve questions in a row right for a split of the game’s cash prize. In fact, for three seasons Let’s Ask America ran in US television syndication and while the host was in the studio contestants were on Skype at home.

In the traditional game show vein, Complete the List is a podcast game show run by Canada’s Andy Saunders (disclaimer: I have known Andy for years, and he is the tournament director at Reach for the Top, and he does a damn good job!). After hearing a few episodes, I knew I wanted to apply, and it was a simple as filling out a Google Form.

PRO TIP: Podcast game shows are always looking for players – why not have a try at Complete the List yourself?

Three players (and on occasion teams) are given a list of eight categories, in the vein of Pyramid, whereby you’ll have to decipher what they actually mean and that’s part of the fun. Players give answers in turn, in an attempt to score points. But in a neat twist, if you can’t think of another answer you can copy someone else’s – well, at least if you think it’s right! Other rounds include having to name a year a series of events happened as well as answering a question within a certain numerical range.

I first played on Episode 21, whereby to my surprise, I was against two other Canadians. It turns out Andy had prepared a slate of questions that were Canadian-themed. I then started to try and figure out what the categories might mean.

PRO TIP: On a show like this, pen and paper are not only allowed, but you need to use them. When a category came up, I started to scribble down possible answers. When it came to the “name the year”, I divided everything up by decade. Also make sure to take time to write down what other contestants had said so I wouldn’t repeat answers where I didn’t want to.

One of the great things about this podcast is the variety of questions – I’ve had to name countries who produced a Tour de France winner, Canadian Prime Ministers, currently running soap operas, characters from The Hunger Games and so many more things. As well the calibre of contestants has been quite high – the second of two episodes I played against two recent Jeopardy! contestants – one of who made it to the semi-finals of the recently finished Tournament of Champions.

And while this show only plays for pride, there is tons of it at stake. You can hear me play on episodes #21 and #25 wherever you find your podcasts – just search for Complete the List!

Next time, my life in game shows comes to a conclusion – well… for now…

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Well, the game show as a podcast – who would have thought? I’d like to thank Ryan for once again opening my eyes to a new corner of the game show universe that I was completely unaware of, before he came along. That was, as he mentioned, the penultimate instalment of his Life In Game Shows guest post odyssey…. but before he returns for one last round, perhaps you’d like to follow him on Twitter, at @RealCanadaMan.

And just a reminder that you can follow me too, at @How2WinGameShow.

Until next time!

The Trivia Championships of North America!

Hello! Guest blogger Ryan Vickers is back again this week to take us through a trivia-related phenomenon that I had never even heard of – shame on me! Now read on…

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My Life in Game Shows

Episode 13 – Meeting with like-minded folks – TCONA / ‘Game Show Throwdown’, 2017

In the world of fan conventions – because geek is now chic – Comic Con is come-one-come-all for everything pop culture in San Diego, California. Musical Theatre fans have Broadway Con in New York City.

But what does that leave for us game show (and trivia) aficionados? The Trivia Championships of North America (TCONA)! Held in Vegas every year, this has some loose connections to the previous “Game Show Congress” which occurred during the 2000s but truly today TCONA stands on its own. Trivia players from all around the world (including game show writers, contestants and talent) attend and play in events such as LearnedLeague Live, Last Quizzer Standing, and Total Recall about Strange Happenings (TRASH). There’s something for everyone.

It also means there is a boatload of game show contestants there.

PRO TIP: If you ever find yourself at an event whereby there are this many game show contestants, make sure to ask them about their experiences! And furthermore, ask them what they did to get on that show that you want to get on!

I’m not joking about the alumni – far from it. My quiz bowl team included two people that had reached the $500,000 level on Who Wants to be a Millionaire and a Lingo champ, for example. I ran into alumni of shows like Win Ben Stein’s Money, The $100,000 Pyramid, Whammy!, Jeopardy!, Wheel of Fortune, Weakest Link, $ale of the Century… and the list goes on and on and on…

On a personal level, I had a blast. It was not only great getting to meet all of these wonderful game show people, but it was also the activities as well. I went with a friend to see a taping of Millionaire and got to stand on the set where the host stands and actually “host” a question. I spent time playing Jeopardy! with actual Jeopardy! alumni in someone’s hotel room. I played trivia titans in a 15-player head-to-head game of Last Quizzer Standing (similar to Britain’s Fifteen-To-One) where I came in fifth place.

PRO TIP: Don’t play your cards early if you don’t need to. In this fifteen-player quiz battle, I might not have been the strongest but gave confident answers and then did not make eye contact during the second round (where players nominated other players to answer) which helped me make it as far as I did. Know the rules of the game and figure out how they can work to your advantage!

I also had one of the best nights of my life with approximately twenty other Wheel of Fortune alumni with dinner at a restaurant (where someone did the math and there was over $300,000 in winnings at that table alone!) and then a nightcap singing karaoke with those fine people. Don’t get me wrong – I had a great time but I’m not posting the footage!

The highlight of the weekend for me was raising money for childrens’ hospitals across North America. As part of a group that put on the “2017 Game Show Throwdown” we raised over $7,000 by playing different game shows for 24 hours with contestants from the TCONA audience. You’d be surprised, but I got to host a cult-Canadian game show at 4 am and it was a blast. We live streamed on the internet so everyone could watch as well!

PRO TIP: If an opportunity comes where you can use your game show skills to give back, please try and do it! I have helped out with events at various locations and trust me, it will warm your heart. Not to mention you’ll have funny anecdotes to tell for years to come based on the answers that players give!

I can’t wait to go back!

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Thanks for the heads-up, Ryan; I was completely unaware of the existence of this event. It sounds like a lot of fun! Hopefully I’ll manage to get there one day. 

One day….

 

Ryan Makes A Deal

Hello, and again Happy New Year again, from all of us here at HowToWinGameShows.com!

And when I say ”all of us”, of course I actually mean “me”. 

Our guest blogger Ryan Vickers (by which I actually mean “my guest blogger Ryan Vickers”)  is back this week, with Episode 12 of His Life In Game Shows…

So take it away, Ryan!

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Ryan and his friend Terri on ‘Let’s Make A Deal’

My Life in Game Shows

Episode 12 – Going with your gut – Let’s Make A Deal, 2017

I’m pretty lucky that as a teacher (my main job) and my hosting of Reach for the Top (the secondary gig) allows for a structured summer holiday schedule. This year I was committed to be in Detroit, Michigan for a sporting event and then in Las Vegas for a trivia convention (which I’ll talk about in a future entry). There was some time in between and one thing led to another and I soon found myself with a friend from work once again in Los Angeles.

As per my previous visit to La La Land, I had booked tickets to The Price is Right and Let’s Make A Deal.

PRO TIP: If you’re serious about getting on an audience participation show such as Price or Deal, bookmark the website for ticketing and check it daily so you can get tickets when the date first becomes available. Also consider calling the ticketing agent – often you won’t get a date guarantee but you can at least establish a reasonable window of time when they will tape. The agency that deals with Price, Deal and Match Game, for example, gives out priority tickets (get there at 8:59 AM for a 9 AM call and you’ll get in) and general tickets (which seats after priority). All it takes is a bit of time!

The first show was The Price is Right. I was delighted to have to mark an “X” on my contestant qualification number as a badge of honour (as I was on the show previously) and it lead to many fun conversations in line.

The second show was Let’s Make A Deal. On and off since 1963 (and currently in season nine) it has evolved from a calm affair at the beginning to the Halloween party for the audience that it has become.

Similar to Price, Deal has players line up and do “speed dating” interviews. One thing that was a bit different from Deal that I remembered from two years previous was that they might ask what game was your favourite and why – so we spent a good half hour the night before verifying the names of games, just in case.

PRO TIP: Lots of people have been on lots of game shows – so do your research and see how their experience was!

In line, my friend Terri went first and then I went second. The interview went well and then we were led into a holding area where we could improve our costumes, take pictures, mingle with other audience members and watch some previous episodes. We kept our energy up – not because we needed to, but because we were having such a darn good time!

PRO TIP: Pay attention to information before the show. We were told, for example, to try and avoid going away empty handed if we were chosen. The staff made sure we knew that if we took the cash bribe that it would indeed be cold hard cash we’d be winning!

About an hour later, during the show Wayne Brady (the host) said he’s looking for two friends… and then pointed at us! As excited as I was to get on the show, I was so happy that my friend was picked as well!

You can see our time on the show here.

Afterwards, much like on Price, once the show was done we were put into a room to deal (ha!) with all of our prizes. In fact, as I type this, I am thrilled to know that one of my prizes will be in my apartment by New Year’s Eve and we will celebrate with it!

PRO TIP: Say Thank You to the prize staff. They are nice people and basically they are giving you FREE STUFF. If for some reason you choose to decline any prize (due to space issues, for example) be polite about it! You never know if you’ll meet these people on another game show!

Next time I’ll talk about a meeting of the game show minds – where we could swap game show war stories!

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Congratulations, Ryan – that looks like a fun prize. We don’t have Let’s Make A Deal here, so I’m a little unfamiliar with the format. I do remember, however, writing this post about the logic you should use when confronted with the infamous Let’s Make A Deal door dilemma, back in 2015. It’s a classic mathematical conundrum, and often proves quite controversial… If you’re considering going on Let’s Make A Deal, I’d strongly suggest you have a look at the post.

See you next time!