As my chat with The Fabulous Adam Richard continued, there was one question that I simply couldn’t leave out…
========================SH: From your perspective as a quiz show question writer, are there any other tips, hints or pieces of advice you’d give to aspiring quiz show contestants?
AR: Quiz shows don’t just cast for intelligence. If you are boring, you won’t get on, no matter how much you know. You don’t have to be funny, and you don’t have to be a gregarious ‘life of the party’ type of person, just don’t be dull. If you are shy, don’t worry, we all are. Even the most famous people who are great public speakers are often overcompensating for being shy. Just be yourself. Don’t mumble, or be too self-deprecating (what you continually say about yourself, you can end up believing after a while) and most of all, don’t think you have to be someone you’re not. Just be the person you are when you’re with friends and family. Pretend the casting people are all people you know. Aunt Jenny and that cousin’s husband you always talk to at barbeques.
SH: But your question-writing career hasn’t just involved writing questions for TV. Another related venture – that you and I both worked on – was writing questions for the Australian version of the board game Cranium, back in 2001. What are your memories of that?
AR: I remember it was quite silly! Most of us had been working on All Star Squares, where alleged celebrities hung out in a giant noughts and crosses board. I remember carrying on with Catherine Deveny at a meeting where we were coming up with those performance-based questions. There’s a part of Cranium where you play charades, and I remember cackling as we tried to act out a sausage roll. The actual writing part was fairly isolated, as these things naturally are, but remembering that first day, where we played the game and stuffed about in a meeting room, that kept me ploughing through the actual writing of the questions.
SH: Do you ever play the Australian version of Cranium with friends? And win? And if so, do you tell them that you already knew all the questions?
AR: When I was doing the breakfast show at Fox FM in Melbourne, we had a Cranium promotion where a family of listeners won a night playing the game with me! I remember that being a fun night. I think I ended up just ‘hosting’ the game, asking all the questions, making sure people stuck to the rules, rather than participating. Also, making merciless fun of people trying to do charades as a sausage roll. It really is hilarious.
SH: In addition to all of this behind-the-scenes stuff, you’ve also appeared many times onscreen in game show / reality shows; shows such as Celebrity Splash!, Hole In The Wall, and Celebrity Dog School (!) After these experiences, do you have any tips for any aspiring reality show contestants out there?
AR: There’s nothing real in reality TV. They eliminate as much chance from the process as possible. TV producers are actually averse to spontaneity, because they don’t know what to point their cameras at. There are a lot of rehearsals and reshoots, and trying to drive contestants down a cul de sac so that they get the outcome they’re hoping for. On Hole in the Wall, they put me in a team with Jonathan Coleman and Jordan Raskopoulos, so they could engineer some hilarious fat jokes. On Celebrity Dog School, the premise of which was to teach unruly dogs how to do tricks, I had a cameraman ask if I could get my dog to repeat some action because he missed it the first time. I didn’t even have a dog when I signed onto that show. They filmed me adopting one, so no, I had barely met him… let alone been able to get him to do anything! Even with Celebrity Splash, we rehearsed everything for the cameras (and they had crews and equipment from the 2000 Olympics, so they all knew what they were doing) but nevertheless, producers are nervous nellies and they want to make sure everything is going to turn out the way they think it should. You only need to watch the manufacturing of bitchiness on MKR, and the fact that those characters aren’t really able to maintain that level of cattiness outside of the show, to realise how much of reality TV is stage managed, either through feeding pre-prepared lines to the contestants, to editing in side-eyes and eye-rolls.
Until next week!
Oh, and by the way, HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!