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Lies My Blogger Told Me
February 11

I know this is hard to believe, but I'm not the only one who's blogging about game shows. Some of them are insightful, some are fatuous, but in this case, I would go so far as to say some are dangerous. The entry on a particular website had “ten things game shows won't tell you.” I won't name the website, but since you're smart enough to read this, you can do a little google-fu, you can find the original.

Essentially there are ten things that game shows won't tell you, and the overarching thesis of the article is that going on a game show is an arduous trial and not worth your time. I disagree. Without people appearing on game shows, there wouldn't be any game shows. So I will now dispel and dispute the claims of this bit of electronic effluvium.

The first paragraph is about how boring you are to all concerned. No lie: game shows want people that we can root for, or root against. Any game show is going to ask you for a few tidbits from your life so that the host can spend a few moments in amiable chit chat before getting back into game play. If you cannot come up with five decent conversational thumbnails about your life, you probably won't get picked. But I can't think of someone in my sphere of family or friends that doesn't have a wacky collection, or predilection, or brush with celebrity. Something. Without those little fleshings-out, contestants just become cogs in the machine, and I'd prefer they weren't. The writers say that you're lousy on camera; that you don't show enough energy when you win or lose. Frankly, I'd like to see contestants who are real, who display actual emotion, and not caricatures who swoon and prance around the set.

Yes, you must pay taxes on your winnings. Yes, if you're a dumbass and spend the money you win without putting some aside, you will be in a boatload of trouble. Just ask Richard Hatch. Their contention is that since the game show doesn't come right out and say “You will have to pay taxes on the twenty-five thousand dollar grand prize,” that they're being deceitful. I don't buy it: my job takes a cut of my paycheck, and I don't go around huffy about it. The writers also claim that the prize values are inflated, but if you win “$40,000” of car, and can prove that your SUV could be purchased at a local dealer for $32,950, then you would only pay taxes on that amount, and not the listed value.

But at least you might win something. Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune and Millionaire all have $1,000 minimums. You could show up, not answer a single thing right, and you'll take home pocket money, or at least enough to cover the cost of travel and lodging. With the exception of The Price is Right, gone are the days of Rice-a-Roni, Turtle Wax and the Encyclopedia Britannica going home with departing contestants. Companies aren't providing cases of Certs anymore, and I'm sure people would rather be able to pay for the trip than to take home a bunch of random stuff.

Another on their laundry list of problems is that taping the show takes a long time. So what? You're there with a chance to win tens of thousands of dollars, and your flight isn't until tomorrow. That's a terrific hourly rate even if you flame out and just win that $1,000. Soak up the experience. Don't worry if there are some people who are trying to make a living as “professional game show contestant.” Don't worry if your reflexes aren't as good as your knowledge. Don't worry about some dipstick blog commenter giving you a hard time whether you win or lose.

If you manage to get on a game show, you've won already. Don't worry about anything else other than having a good time, because if you do that, you can take home that prize to your friends and family for years and years.

You can ask Travis Eberle about his audition experience by dropping him a line at traviseberle@gmail.com