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How To Get On A Game Show

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Acting like you’re strung out on heroin isn’t really on a lot of coordinators’ list of desirable traits.

Josh Eldridge lugged himself around the East Coast to get on Who Wants to be a Millionaire. He flew from his home in Tazewell, TN to New York City to try out for the show, then immediately took a train to Philadelphia, PA, to partake in the 3rd Annual 24-Hour Game Show Marathon. Once the show called him back and said he’d be on, he drove to Stamford, CT to be on the show before walking away over $60,000 richer. Josh shares with me what he said and did to get on the show and win the show’s ultimate prize—a bear hug from Terry Crews.

“First bit of advice: get a good night sleep the night before, give yourself plenty of time to get to the venue. It sounds funny for something as exciting and fun as a game show audition, but treat it like a job interview. But only slightly not as serious,” he tells me. Josh’s first audition was a local audition in Nashville, for WWTBAM’s 10th Anniversary special, hosted by Regis Philbin. “I basically left at 9:30pm the night before to get there for the 7:30 am session. Totally wasn’t on my a-game for that one, surprisingly enough. [I] didn’t get any sleep, so I made a piss-poor first impression when it came to the face-to-face interview. Acting like you’re strung out on heroin isn’t really on a lot of coordinators’ list of desirable traits,” Josh tells me with a wink.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PkxsxhfYDB4

As for the Millionaire test in New York City, it was surprisingly difficult. “The routine was that they passed out those scantron sheets, told us to remember the number on our answer sheet, and told us we had ten minutes to answer 30 questions,” Josh told me. “If you did your homework in watching the show, you’ll have a good idea on material mechanics. In my case, a few of the questions were ones used over the course of the previous season. Even then, if you did your homework on the show, you’d know that the questions they use can be sussed out from the context of the question and the choices they give you.”

Every audition I went to before this—and I’ve tried out for a few—I went into it with a make-or-break attitude, but this time I didn’t.

I asked Josh how he thought he fared. “I felt like I had done halfway decent at it. Even if I hadn’t done well enough to make their cut, I figured ‘to hell with it,’ I was in New York, in June, and if I didn’t have a good time there, the city was big enough for me to find my own fun. While we were waiting on the results, we all just sat around and conversated. The time came, one of the staffers came through and read off a list of numbers of the tests that had passed, and thanked everybody who didn’t pass and invited them to try again. What shocked me was that out of our group, there was only four that passed. Myself included.”

I can speak to Josh’s success during his interview, because he asked me to be his Plus One when he made it on the show in 2014. Backstage, the producer who was responsible for casting him continually raving on how funny and charming he was. That wasn’t an accident.

It’s the Instagram method—you’re there to give them a snapshot of your life. Put an interesting filter on it.

“When I gave [the contestant coordinator] my life story, nothing about me was dull. I did not tell her I was an unemployed ne’er-do-well who still lived with his parents and wasn’t entirely sure of his next step in life—even though that’s precisely what I was. I was an ‘Appalachian Bohemian’ who did country thangs in a slightly-more-intellectual motivation: I’d chop firewood listening to Miles Davis, I’d make abstract art from things I found in the woods, and I’d argue chess strategies over a jar of moonshine. That was the truth, because they were all things I had done. It’s the Instagram method- you’re there to give them a snapshot of your life. Put an interesting filter on it.”

Josh gives good advice on selling yourself to a contestant coordinator. “This is your first chance to make a good first impression. You’re wanting to show them you have the qualities they’re looking for: be glad, upbeat, show them that you’re excited to be there—cause, hell, I was. Don’t force it, don’t act excited, be excited. These are people who are paid to spot and weed out phonies.”

I asked Josh if there was one thing he would’ve done differently. The thing with Josh Eldridge, though, is that he did that one thing differently. It paid off big time. “Every audition I went to before this—and I’ve tried out for a few—I went into it with a make-or-break attitude, but this time I didn’t. And every time before, I had thought I did okay, but then thought of a couple of points where I stuttered or stammered or thought I had said the completely wrong thing. But this time, I said [forget] it. This audition wasn’t the only reason I was in NYC, so I think that played a big part in not playing it as seriously as I used to—Not serious, but respectful. I didn’t exaggerate to make myself more interesting, but I presented the truth in an interesting way.”

Don’t force it, don’t act excited, be excited. These are people who are paid to spot and weed out phonies.