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Q is for Quiz Show: A Free to See #AtoZChallenge Post

A blue and white "JEOPARDY!" sign on a tan building, with a sign labeled, "The Alex Trebek Stage" to the left of the doors

I'm living in southern California this year, and decided to use my exploration of the area as my focus for the #AtoZChallenge. I'm concentrating on free to see places, though I will include locations that require a parking fee. This is the seventeenth post in the series. 

I didn't decide to participate in the A to Z Challenge until mid-to-late March, so I was pleasantly surprised that free tickets to Jeopardy! were still available for April tapings. If you want to be in the studio audience, this is the link I used for tickets. I invited a friend to join me just days before the taping, and she was able to get a ticket, too.

We drove down to Culver City together and then it was "hurry up and wait" until the time for the recording. First we sat on benches in the parking garage.

Benches in the garage, with banners advertising Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune hanging behind

After checking in with staff members, we were led into a waiting room where we could shop at a gift shop and take photos with a podium and cardboard cutout of Alex Trebek. 

A podium with the Jeopardy! sign on it and a life-size cutout of Alex Trebek behind
After sufficient time had passed for everyone who wanted to to buy souvenirs and use the restroom, we were led outside to wait outside the stage studio. It happened to be Monday, April 8th--the day of the eclipse. Even though we weren't in the path of totality, some staff members and guests had brought glasses to share, so everyone who wanted to was able to view the eclipse. 

Finally, it was time to enter the studio. There was a strict "no phones/no cameras/no recording" rule once we climbed the stairs to the stage. During our breaks, we could walk back downstairs and take photos of the displays, but we couldn't take photos of the stage itself. 

My friend and I sat in the second audience row. In front of the audience chairs, in front of us, was a long table filled with computer monitors, and stacks of reference books. Five or six employees sat in chairs at that table, making sure that answers were correctly given and that no one in the audience was blurting out the answers. That was probably the biggest rule that was stressed to us, after the "no recording" rule. If someone is heard saying an answer (and there are microphones all over the place), the clue needs to be scrapped and recording paused while a new clue is found. Fortunately, we didn't have any clue-scrapping during our tapings.

We were the audience for two tapings. We were told it would be three, but we didn't have time for the third, which was a little disappointing, but better two than none! The episodes will air on May 17 and May 20, and I'm excited to watch them again. 

Ken Jennings was the host, and he interacted with the audience during commercial breaks. He was personable and expressed his gratitude to us. He told us that we could have flown anywhere in the path of totality that day, but instead, we chose to come watch Jeopardy!, so he said he'd bring the eclipse to us. The lights then went off. LOL. 

There are parts of the stage that aren't seen on TV, but that are important for contestants. One is a line of blue lights on the side of the clue board. Those lights turn on the moment the host finishes the final syllable of the clue, which is the signal to the contestants that they can push their buzzers. Also, there is a scoreboard to the side of the clue board, so the contestants can see how much money they and their competitors have, to help them with their wagers. 

After a round, Ken Jennings would be re-recorded stating some of the clues, most of the time so that the sound quality was up to par, I think. On the rare occasion, the re-recording was for another reason--but nothing that changed the outcome of the game. 

Once all the recording for a particular episode was complete, we were excused for a short 10-minute break. I enjoyed seeing (and taking photos of) Jeopardy! memorabilia.

The top of Alex Trebek's podium, as it would look when he was hosting

"Think Music #1" sheet music is framed on the wall

Shelves and shelves of Emmy Awards are displayed in cases

After the break, it was back to the audience, and we were once again instructed to "sit up straight" and ignore the camera sweeping over us as the opening theme started playing. Ken Jennings entered, took his place at the podium, and it was time for another taping of Jeopardy!

I recommend that anyone who is a fan of Jeopardy! take part in a studio audience. It's a fun free activity and gives a glimpse into what goes into making a TV game show. 


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