BY robert mckee
So here I sit once again on an airplane en route to be on a game show. (The first time was in 2002 when I was on a horrible show called Friend or Foe.. more about that later) ;) .. It is a strange feeling. Here I sit on a morning flight from Dallas/Fort Worth to cute little Long Beach airport — a flight full of people on business trips and people visiting family -- and there's me: Flying out for the sole purpose of auditioning to be on a game show. The flight was an outrageous $350 round trip -- a bit ridiculous for a domestic flight, when I was used to paying $120 round trips to New York and Vegas -- but I'm looking at that solely as an investment ;) If you've ever tried to audition for a game show before, all sorts of weird doubts fly through your head when you endure this. Game show coordinators are a very picky bunch and they are looking for people with specific traits and stereotypes, and sadly, your level of flamboyancy or ability to demonstrate you can flail around in excitement and give an obnoxious level of high-fives for the littlest of things typically impresses them more than a stellar performance on any tests of the actual gameplay. So, for Lingo, I really did feel I was the ultimate blackbelt zen-master of this game, yet if they somehow didn't like my hair, or if I didn't project the right inflection, that would be the end of the line.

From what I've seen from my many game show auditions in the past, knowledge of the game is immaterial; they're looking for something and are able to judge you in literally a thirty-second face-to-face discussion to determine if they think you're "right for the show." And for those auditions that actually do have you participate in a mock-game, even still, unnatural excitability (for pretend prizes) is very difficult for me to execute in a convincing fashion without feeling like a moron, even if I felt I absolutely slayed at the game. Of course, winning real actual money would make a significant difference in anyone's level of excitability, no? Well, with this attitude, certainly, the cards were stacked against me, so I really needed to figure out how to immediately stress that if they have me on, I will put on a clinic and give them an entertaining game, my own lack of jump-up-and-down excitability notwithstanding.
I had to choose a partner to play the game with, and although I tried to recruit some of my local Dallas/Fort Worth friends to do this with me, it didn't seem like anyone was willing to risk the money it would cost to fly out for the audition, but it also seemed a bit easier if I had someone who already lived out in Cali to go on this venture. I had to thumb through my catalog of Los Angeles-area friends and realized Heather, the twin sister of one of my best pals, Crystal, lived in the area... so I called and asked "would you like to perhaps win $5000 for a half-hour of standin' around on a TV show?" Sold!
When we arrived at the studio to do the audition...
I was surprised to see that they were actually held in a trailer in the parking lot of the KTLA studios... Auditioning for game show in a double-wide... who knew?
The application was long and full of personality questions...
On a corkboard on the wall, they had polaroids of all the potential applicants. This was a little unsettling, since this reaffirmed my fear that they would be choosing people more based on how purty they are vs. how awesome they are at this game. Not that I'm a total train-wreck, but I certainly don't think I stand up to any of these folks that live and breathe the world of Los Angeles' pretty-face-standards that I saw on the wall. If they were indeed going to judge us on looks, I had reasoned that it certainly didn't hurt having Heather on the team, so that coupled with me having a freakin' website devoted to this game should check all their boxes. (We'll see if I can even squeeze in a plug!)
I was also pretty surprised how low-budget the audition experience was.. I didn't really expect any super-Hollywood-glamor environment, but it felt more like we were applying for jobs on a construction site. These are the monitors they had set up to show us a tape of the show, incase we've never heard of it ;)
We had to solve a mock puzzle given to us by one of the contestant coordinators on a markerboard, while being filmed on a cute lil' 8mm handheld camera on a rickety tripod! I had the opportunity to tell them about my hardcore history with this show, and funny enough, some of the people who worked there never even knew this show existed in Canada years before. I figured since I flew all the way out there and the audition was really quick, I needed to make a move to stick in their minds that I was real insane about this game. I needed to cement myself in these peoples' minds that I'm who they want on that show ;) .. Hell, I flew all the way out there just to audition, which I was told am the only person to do so at that point, all other applicants before then were strictly Los Angeles locals. I knew we had 'em when they let me load up my Flash Lingo website on their computer and I got to throw down a few quick rounds :]... so now they have the long-time Lingo nerd combined with the very television-presentable Heather, seemingly the ultimate Lingo team. We'll see what happens!
While in LA for the one evening, I stayed with Heather and her then-fianceé Nicholas Gunn — a platinum-selling clasically-trained flutist. Check that crazy mixer! Nick gave me a selection of his awesome music, and so on the way out back to the airport, I had the top down and had the Christmas flutin' cranked up in the middle of June.. good stuff! .. Le clip! ..