Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

Jeopardy! tryouts test students on trivia

This can describe the atmosphere of tryouts for a popular game show series: What is “brutal?”

That’s the word from senior promotions manager Grant Loud, who helped bring Jeopardy! tryouts to DU Oct. 3.

About 750 people — approximately 250 of them DU undergraduates — filled the Driscoll Ballroom hoping to score a spot as a Jeopardy! contestant. Undergrads took a test for the 2008 College Championship in May, while all others competed for the chance to be an eligible contestant during the next 18 months.

Only about 80 people passed the initial test, which was a fill-in-the-blank, 10-question quiz, Loud says.

Jeopardy! employees just told entrants whether they passed or failed, without citing how many questions were right and wrong. 

“They go crazy over this. They’re students — they just want to know what their score was.”

Only a handful of students got word that they passed. 

Jeopardy! enthusiasts Ryan Boulding, a senior English and journalism major, and Kayla Klatka, a senior math major, were two of them. They joined the others in Sturm Hall to take a 50-question quiz, which Loud says is similar to the show in terms of a quick response time. Those who passed that went on further to a contestant audition.

Boulding says he always wanted to be on [the show’s] “Teen Tournament,” and this could be his chance.

“We need to make DU proud,” he says.

The two say their practice from watching the show and playing Boulding’s Jeopardy! PlayStation game helped prepare them for that moment. That, and a college education, of course.

If either is invited to play in the College Series, they’ll get notice by the beginning of the year, Loud says.

Senior journalism major Zach Blom wasn’t as lucky. “It was hard,” he said failing the initial round. But he was a winner in a “just for fun” game that hundreds competed in on the other side of the room. Individuals waited in lines to pick from a board similar to the show’s that included categories like “World of Wonders” and “Showbiz.”

Blom’s answers — including “What is a caption?” and “Who is Jack Nicklaus?” — scored him a free T-shirt.

Besides someone who’s a whiz at trivia, Loud says they look for people who can handle the pressure of being put on the spot, which is why the College Series is so great, he says.

“They’re not as intimidated by authority; they’re feisty,” he says. “We’re giving away a lot of money. We want it to be to someone who’s having fun.”

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