October 10, 2004
Gordon: From somewhere in
Jeff Suchard's basement where you can hear a popular
computer programmer from Utah's screams if you listen
loudly enough, WLTI.... is on.
Jeff: Don't tell the police!
Chico: Yeah, like the police is gonna hear this.
Joe: Too late. They already heard the screams. *rimshot*
Chico: Squeeeeeal, piggie! You've got Chico Alexander
and Gordon Pepper AND...
Gordon: Joe Van Ginkel with our SPECIAL guest Jeff
Suchard. Pleasure to have you here, Jeff.
Jeff: Happy to be here. Am I more SPECIAL because it's
Chico: But of course! But not that kind of special. The
good kind. You know,
until the end of the show, when you WILL be the other
Jeff: Thanks for inviting me to this most unique forum.
Gordon: We're going to also talk about Survivor, the
Apprentice, and the Last
Stand of Last Comic Standing, but first of all, of
course, let's talk
Jeopardy, or should I say Jeffpardy, where Jeff was one
Final Jeopardy Question miss
from Ken Jennings away from being the champion. Jeff,
where do we start off?
Jeff: Thank you for getting the spelling correct... Jeffpardy,
as it should
be. What do you want to know?
Gordon: Did you know about Jennings's winning streak
before you were chosen
to be a contestant, and when did they tell you that he
was still there?
Jeff: I tried out for J! in February in Las Vegas. I'm
probably the only
Southern Californian to travel out of state to do so.
Chico: And they taped your show over the summer, so you
had to have JUST
found out. Did they just tell you "Be prepared for a
fight" or something?
Jeff: They gave no indication at that time that they had
a super powerhouse
player, although I'm pretty sure he had already started
winning games by that
time. When my wife sent out an email to friends and
family letting them know I
would be on the show, I found that my cousin had just
taped a show.
Chico: Was he the one that warned you?
Jeff: He didn't give me specifics, but did warn me about
a Jeopardy savant
that might still be around by the time I got there. So I
watched every new show
very carefully, thinking "OK, that's him. He's the one
I'm gonna have to beat."
Chico: Pretty cool way of going about it.
Jeff: But KJ's shows hadn't aired by the time I got
there. I was called to
tape on April 23rd, by which time KJ had won 43 games.
Chico: Sounds like it was the beginning of the tape
Jeff: When I arrived at the studio, it was pretty clear
to me who the
returning champ was. I asked him how many games, and he
responded with 43. I don't
think several of the other contestants believed it,
until it was confirmed by
the staff in the Green Room. At that point, the attitude
of most people changed
from expectant glee to expectant doom.
Chico: But how'd you take the news?
Jeff: Like Christians waiting to be thrown to the lions,
aristocrats lining up for the guillotine.
Chico: Didn't play like it, though...
Joe: Indeed. Did you have a particular game plan in
playing against him?
Jeff: I was already prepared for a powerhouse opponent,
so the news didn't
bug me too much. I just needed to see him play, to find
out if there was any way
to beat him.
Joe: So it was just "fastest with the mostest?"
Jeff: Thing is, that he is soooo fast on the buzzer it
is insane. The only
way a player can be such a powerhouse is to "rule the
buzzer", since most
players are smart enough to get >80% of the responses
correct. I needed to find out
the optimal buzzer strategy, and was hoping that
watching Ken would show me.
Chico: Looks like he might've.
Jeff: So I watched 5 games taped that day. I ended up
being a holdover
contestant. That gave me nearly 4 more months of time
for preparation. Which was a
nice reprieve, although also an interesting personal
Hell. So I continued
practicing J! by watching every TiVo'd episode at least
twice, and made a mock
buzzer from PVC pipe, a doorbell, and electrical tape.
All I needed was a potato
and a bendy-straw, and I could've MacGyvered a nuclear
Chico: I always thought a pen worked best. That an a
Joe: AND a case of Uranium.
Jeff: Pens have a different "feel" to them. The actual
buzzer used on the
show is quite thick, about 7/8 of an inch. And the
button on the top has a
smoother mechanism than a clicky pen. I wanted to
simulate the buzzer as close as I
could. I was called back for the next taping on August
9th, and I just assumed
I would be first up against Ken. Speculation on the J!
message board was that
the optimal situation to beat Ken would be: 1) after a
long absence, 2) with
one strong opponent, and one weaker opponent, 3) the
strong opponent, being me.
Gordon: So you got all of the conditions
Chico: Now the question comes up... What went wrong?
Jeff: I had worked on a buzzer strategy of waiting just
a beat after Alex
finished reading the clue, and then hitting the buzzer
before the indicator
lights went on. Although this worked great at home, in
the practice game I ended up
hitting it just a bit too early and locking myself out.
So I switched
strategy to "wait for the light and press the button
quickly", which many former
champions say will not work. Seemed to work for me,
though, because in the second
practice game the stage manager actually asked me to put
the buzzer down and
let the others have a chance. So I had to switch my
strategy right before game
time. Turned out to work OK, as I was able to ring in
first on about 50% of
the clues I wanted to respond to during the actual game.
What went wrong, you
ask? Nothing due to me. Ken is just REALLY fast and
Chico: So you were just a victim of circumstance is
Joe: Like they say: you do everything right and still
lose. A feeling I know
Jeff: My plan was to do whatever it took to stay within
striking distance of
Ken for Final Jeopardy. I managed to do this, even
without the assistance of
Daily Doubles, and it all came down to Final Jeopardy.
Ken only gets about 2/3
of these right, and my score was high enough that it
forced him to get it
correct. Whereas my getting it right or not was
immaterial. Other than having more
than twice Ken's score (which was probably not going to
happen), this was the
best situation I could ask for. Then I saw the FJ
category, "POETRY". I knew
I couldn't count on getting it right... but fortunately,
I didn't have to. I
knew this was a relatively strong category for Ken, as
he was an English major
in college. During the commercial break before FJ, they
tell you whether to
write "Who" or "What" on your light pad.
Chico: So you basically had the full 30 for the answer.
Jeff: Right after this, the executive producer came up
and told us we would
have to come up with TWO names for this FJ. Great! Not
only a weak category for
me, but I needed two poets. But this just increased the
chance that Ken would
get it wrong.
Joe: Heck, most people can't even name ONE poets.
Jeff: I presumed that Ken would bet logically, and wager
to cover the
situation where I got FJ correct and bet it all.
Chico: And he did.
Jeff: But I knew that Ken knew this was a weak category
for me. And since I
had pushed so close during the game, I was concerned he
might low-ball me in
FJ. I didn't think this was likely...but I couldn't get
it out of my mind.
Jeff: So I tried to determine if there was any wager I
could make that would
allow me to cover Ken's current score if he bet low, got
it wrong, and I just
happened to get it right. While at the same time,
protected me and assured a
win if Ken got it wrong. Turns out that the amount I had
to win and the amount
I could afford to lose were very nearly equal. This was
a bit confusing at the
time, and I took a good 5 minutes (at least) to
calculate my wager. It has
been pointed out to me, though, that if I had gotten FJ
correct, and Ken had bet
$0, we would have tied. And therefore I should have bet
between $1 and $99
more. However, I never for one second thought that Ken
would bet $0. Maybe just
a couple hundred, but not zero. But Ken bet logically,
as usual, and the tie
would never have happened.
Chico: And we all know what happened next. Now did you
happen to notice if
you were beginning to unnerve Ken?
Jeff: You betcha! Did you notice that he made fewer
joking comments during
Chico: Yeah, I did notice that...
Jeff: He had to seriously buckle down.
Joe: I'll bet that felt good... to you.
Gordon: When did you realize that you were unnerving
Jeff: "Unnerving" is maybe too strong a word. He felt
the competition, and
responded by seriously playing the game. His Daily
Double bets clearly show his
response to my gameplay.
Jeff: He bet VERY big on the first one. Trying to pull
himself far enough in
the lead to give a buffer zone. Had he gotten that one
wrong, we would have
been very close in score. Then he bet small on the
second, to keep his lead. As
the game ended, Ken was obviously very worried he might
have gotten FJ
incorrect. You can see his worry, and then his relief,
as Alex read our answers.
Gordon: When the show was over, it seemed like he
breathed a huge sigh of
relief. How did he act after the game ended?
Jeff: After his huge sigh, Ken immediately turned to me,
put out his hand and
told me it was a great game. Very classy.
Joe: It was an awesome contest, I must say.
Jeff: Then, get this, he told me it was his lifelong
dream to be on We Love
Chico: You're kidding.
Jeff: Umm... maybe.
Gordon: Well, tell him that we'd love to have him - and
we only charge 5% of
contestants total winnings.
Chico: Ken, if you're reading this... mail us... We'll
Gordon: That was an excellent insight into the Jennings
experience. Thanks a
Jeff: Wait a minute! 5% of $2000 is $100. Julie needs
that for shoes.
Gordon: It's a Utah contestant's tax. CA residents are
Jeff: Ok then.
Chico: Glad you said that...Now you weren't the only
person to see quizular
action this week. At least, not the only person named
Jeff: Yes, Julie was a Phone-A-Friend (PAF) on
Millionaire the same night I
appeared on Jeopardy. Didn't she look pretty?
Gordon: She looked gorgeous. How did it feel for her to
be on that side of
Jeff: It was perhaps even more pressure than being in
the Hot Seat, because
she didn't want to let Weldon down. He had struggled for
a long time to be on
the show, and he was counting on her. Fortunately, the
question was right up
Julie's alley. She knows all about piano playing in gay
Chico: Sounded like she did.
Jeff: Funny thing is that we had just gone over
virtually the same question
about two days earlier. She knew it then too. For the
record, the question was
Barry Manilow was the pianist for which female singer?
Or something like that.
Chico: Bette Midler. I remember her episode of Behind
Jeff: She knew the correct answer immediately, but had
to wait for Weldon to
finish reading the choices.
Jeff: She had practiced the PAF with Weldon, and he
requested that she wait
until he was done before responding. She annoyed him
with blurting answers
early in their practice session. We have never met
Weldon in person. And before
the show aired, Julie could not have told you what he
even looked like.
Jeff: He's a board-buddy from a Millionaire message
Gordon: When she saw him, was it like he pictured him?
Jeff: Weldon called us up last Monday. He was in NYC at
watching me play Jeopardy! on the Jumbotron. It was a
very surreal moment in gameshow
history. Julie says Weldon does not look like his voice
or how she imagined
him. The looks, of course, don't matter. He's a nice guy
who got his chance for
big bucks. Congratulations to him!
Chico: Very much so. Okay, we could talk for days, it
seems, but we've only
got so much show =p
Gordon: Switching gears - The Apprentice. Pamela finally
got to be with the
women - and got the brush-off instead. Thoughts?
Jeff: She came on way too strong after the switch.
Chico: Definitely a textbook case in how NOT to win
friends and influence
Gordon: I think Pamela did a great job alienating
Jeff: I agree with what she did, but not how she did it.
Since they lost the
competition, she was the obvious person to vote off the
Gordon: Recently, there has been a string of people once
again writing that
the Donald only firing the good people and is keeping
personalities for ratings. Do you agree with that?
Jeff: It's all about the Benjamins, ain't it? More
interesting show as a
freak-fest, and gets bigger advertising money.
Chico: But you can't seem to help but get where he's
getting at. Example:
Bradford Cohen... the man who literally self-destructed.
Jeff: Who cares who gets fired, when Anna Kournikova is
trying to nail a
half-naked man with tennis balls? Now that's "reality"
Gordon: I think that the Donald is taking this game much
more seriously this
time around - he's getting rid of the people who he
finds are incapable to
work for him. As for Anna - well, I can watch her all
day, regardless of who she
is pelting with balls.
Chico: Agreed... I'd say let's go to the clip.. but I
don't have it =p
Gordon: But one think NBC doesn't want you to watch is
the last episode of
Last Comic Standing. They cancel it - then remit it
after protest, but only
decide to go with a half hour episode. Who's at fault
here - the show for tanking
in the ratings, or NBC for making them shoot a LCS 3 so
quickly after the
second one and burning the audience out?
Chico: I blame the network.
Jeff: Once again, it's all about ratings, or lack
Chico: I mean, this is something that should've been
done the first two
times, but by the time that the third one rolls around,
people are tired of it...
It's really true with any property. After the third one,
audiences are tapped
Jeff: It's like what happened with Millionaire. It was a
cash cow, so they
Chico: It's a matter of scale in some cases. With Last
Comic Standing, NBC
made a really huge mistake by putting it in the fall,
after strong, but not
stellar performances in the summer. They got greedy.
Jeff: The result being that no one's interested anymore.
Chico: So there you go. Ratings and network
overexposure. Two roads.. leading
to the same place.
Joe: On the other hand, some might blame the fact that
there were no house
scenes. But then I didn't really watch it, so it doesn't
Chico: I never tuned in for the house scenes - no way.
Jeff: LOL. You and the rest of America.
Gordon: Chico has some fun coming up next, but it's time
to take a break.
Chico: Yep. We have an oversized Big Board in our next
segment, but first,
Gordon gets to whine about not having disagreement. The
drama queen he is.
Gordon: I'm saving the Drama for Take A Side, actually,
where I let Jeff get
at someone's throat...
Chico: This is the We Love to Interrupt program, stay
to you by "In Search of the Addams Family"... Searching
America for people who are creepy, kooky, spooky, and
ooky, just like the Addams family.)
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