For the last seven years or so, I’ve been a big fan of the NPR “quiz” show, “Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me,” the weekly show where a panel of comedians discuss the news in a humorous way. I even had a chance to see a show live when I lived in Chicago. Earlier this year, while listening to “Wait, Wait…”, there was a commercial for another NPR quiz show, “Ask Me Another,” a trivia competition with regular people as competitors. I was hooked, and I was determined to become a contestant. I almost did it…
After months of swearing I would, I finally went online and filled out an application back in September. And then, last month, I got a call. I had done well on the application quiz and merited a phone interview to see if I would be a good match for the show. I set a time with one of the show’s producers and, I thought, the call went well. I would get an answer in a few days, she said. I was excited.
The email came. I was chosen as an alternate. If one of the contestants couldn’t make the show, I would be on. I was disappointed. I almost said no, but then I saw who the special guests were for the night I was asked to come in: the cast of the new Crackle show “Art of More”: Dennis Quaid, Christian Cooke… and Cary Elwes.
CARY ELWES! Westley in The Princess Bride! The Robin Hood with a British accent! Pierre Despereaux on Psych! I responded to the producer calmly, cooly, completely chill:
For Cary Elwes, I will gladly be an alternate, a gopher or even a foot stool!Sorry, that may have been too enthusiastic. Um, I would be happy to serve as an alternate, thanks for selecting me!
So, I was going to be an alternate for a taping of “Ask Me Another.” The show films at a bar in Brooklyn called The Bell House. The bar has a stage in the back which is set up for regular shows. It’s down the street from a place called the Morbid Anatomy Museum, because it’s Brooklyn. After being a little creeped out by the museum I walked by, and the guy who walked by me carrying props for the museum, I got to the bar, ordered a rum and Diet Coke and waited to be brought to the back for a pre-show briefing.
It was still about half an hour before the show, I went to the show’s special VIP section – an oversized booth at the back of the theater – and nursed my drink as I waited. Twenty minutes, still not there. Fifteen, ten… I was mentally preparing myself to go on. I love doing trivia. People stopped playing me at Trivial Pursuit in college. I’ve won my share of bar trivia nights. This was on a bigger scale, though. A lot of people would be listening to me. I was getting excited.