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Friday, April 30, 2010

Page 4--Game Shows (Part One)--Michael Frissore


It was the turn of the century and America had caught the quiz show bug. It was the fifties all over again – minus the hoses and the German Shepherds. I had recently ruined my chance to audition for Wheel of Fortune because I thought I had mad cow disease. So I swore I would never ruin another opportunity.

There was a new game show called “Would You Like To Be A Millionaire?” It was a blatant rip-off of the Regis Philbin show, certainly, but who asks for originality anymore? I always wanted to be a contestant on a game show, since the days of the old Match Game and Hollywood Squares. I dreamed of meeting mid-level celebrities such as Charles Nelson Reilly and Paul Lynde.

One day, a large, multicolored bus came to my town offering tryouts for the show, and I was the best contestant in the group. I couldn't believe it. I was going to fly to California. Los Angeles, The City of Angels. Or La-La Land, as I like to call it. As if that weren't enough, once I got there, I wasn't only picked for the show, but I even won the “Quickest Digit” question. When I got into “the hot seat,” or, as they called it, “the warm chair,” I was nervous. My mouth was dry. My palms were wet. I was a wreck. This decreased with the simplicity of the questions. The thousand-dollar question was “How many cans of beer are there in a six pack?” This was easy! Then came the $2,000 question.

Which of these was described by Edgar Allan Poe as the brightest purple he’d ever seen?

A. Purple Haze
B. The Purple Rose of Cairo
C. Purple Rain
D. Deep Purple

How was this even a question? I knew it. This game was rigged. I sat there in front of millions of people in stunned silence.

“Well, Regis,” I finally said. “I think I’ll use a lifeline.”

“First of all, my name isn’t Regis. It’s Rick Dees,” the host said. “Secondly, you don’t get any lifelines.”

“You bastard.”

“Answer or get off my show.”

I began to think out loud like they did on the real show.

“Well, let’s see. “Purple Haze” and Deep Purple were in the 60s. The other two were in the 80s. And Poe died in the nineteenth century. Who wrote this question?”

“Time’s running out,” the man who gave us “Disco Duck” said.

“I suppose he could have seen into the future a hundred and twenty years and known about Jimi Hendrix or Woody Allen. He could have said Deep Purple and not meant the band. Or I suppose you people are screwing me.”

“We need an answer.”

“Howard Stern says you suck. Ba Ba Booey! Ba Ba Booey!”


Security chased me around the studio, then threw me out of the building. I didn’t even get the thousand dollars. But I had become addicted to watching and auditioning for game shows. It was really a sickness.


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