By Anne Forline
Gloucester City News
Mount Ephraim resident Brandon Libby competed on “Jeopardy” for three shows in January and won a total of $32,600.
During the recent Commissioners’ meeting, Mayor Joseph Wolk presented Brandon with a Proclamation in recognition of his accomplishment.
Brandon shared his experiences with the Gloucester City News (GCN) about competing on his favorite television game show.
GCN: How and when did you audition?
BL: It was a long process. I’ve been trying to get on Jeopardy for years. It’s always been a dream of mine. For the past six years, I’ve been taking the on-line test, which is the only way to get on. They only have it once a year. So I was taking it and taking it. It was really difficult. Last January, 2011, I took the test again. When I finished it, I thought, “That one was really tough.” So I just put it out of my mind. Then in May, 2011, I got an email saying, “Congratulations, you passed the on-line test.” From there, I had to go to New York for a second round audition.
GCN: How exciting was that?
BL: Just getting the email telling me I passed the test was a dream come true.
GCN: What happened next?
BL: I went up to New York at the end of June, 2011 to do the second round audition, which was another test and “Mock Jeopardy” games with other contestants. We also had to meet with the producers so they could assess our personalities. The producers told us we could hear from them the very next day or eighteen months from then.
GCN: But you did hear from them.
BL: Yes. I got a call from them in October, 2011 that they wanted me to come out to Los Angeles and be on Jeopardy.
GCN: How did you react?
BL: I freaked out. I started screaming.
GCN: When did you actually go out?
BL: I flew out in November to film the shows at Sony Picture Studios.
GCN: You were on three episodes of Jeopardy. How do they film the shows?
BL: They film five shows a day, two days a week, on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for a week’s worth of shows. I was on the fourth and fifth show on Tuesday then we broke for the day. Then I went back to the hotel and woke up to do the first show on Wednesday.
GCN: What was it like to wait?
BL: The in-between time on Tuesday and then coming back to film on Wednesday was bittersweet because I knew I was a winner. I wanted to keep going and didn’t want to stop, but we had to.
GCN: How did you prepare for the show?
BL: I have this weird ability to retain information. Trivia has always been something that I’m really good at. I didn’t really prepare. I didn’t really study anything more because the categories are so random. I could have been studying every single vice president and then got nothing on vice presidents. I just had to rely on what got me there.
GCN: Is the show filmed in front of a live studio audience?
BL: Yes. I would say it’s a two hundred person studio audience.
GCN: Is the studio dark? It looks so dark on tv.
BL: Yes. It’s dark for the audience, but for the contestants, it’s bright because we are on the stage and it’s all lit up.
GCN: Were you able to watch other shows being filmed?
BL: Yes. We all sat on the side of the audience and we watched the shows we weren’t in.
GCN: How do the producers decide which contestants compete against each other?
BL: It’s a random selection process.
GCN: Is Alex Trebek tall? He looks tall on tv.
BL: He isn’t overly tall. He isn’t short. He’s a little taller than average.
GCN: When Alex came over to interview you during the show, you told him that you’re a “Phanstormer” for the Phillies.
BL: Yes. I do that during the season and I’m also a comedic actor and do improve comedy for the N-Crowd. I explained that as a “Phanstormer,” I hand out prizes and keep people interested and excited about the game, but the Phillies “speak for themselves.”
GCN: Then Alex came back with a subtle dig. He said, “This year, the team didn’t speak for itself quite as often.” What did you do?
BL: [Laughs]. I think I handled it well. I gave him a little warning tone, saying “Hey, hey.”
GCN: As for your performance, you came from behind in your first two appearances and the game turned both times in your favor during “Final Jeopardy.”
BL: Yes. It’s all about the buzzer! During the first game, I knew the majority of everything, but I couldn’t get in. You have to have the perfect timing to get in. So that was the problem, I couldn’t get in. The other two contestants were getting higher and higher and I’m thinking, “Oh no! Am I going to be ‘one and done’? I can’t get it going. “But, I ended up going on this little run. I got the “Daily Double” and got right in there. It was exciting and nerve wracking at the same time.
GCN: You correctly answered, “Margaret Mitchell” during your first day’s Final Jeopardy clue, which was “One of the two American women authors nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1938.” Can we go on record as saying “Gone With the Wind” is your favorite movie of all time?
BL: [Laughs] No, we can’t. However, I will hold it in a special place in my heart. You know, I never saw that movie all the way through and the answer came to me so quickly. It was female authors, 1938. It has to be Margaret Mitchell. I got lucky.
GCN: When you were writing your answer during “Final Jeopardy” were you thinking, “I know I have this right and I hope the other two contestants don’t?”
BL: Absolutely. I knew for my first win, Margaret Mitchell was right. For my second win with John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, I was staring at the question for awhile while the music was playing and it didn’t hit me right away. But then I started making connections in my head with lobster and New England and I knew that it was right. I honestly didn’t think I was going to win the first one or the second one until the last contestant was wrong.
GCN: How did that feel?
BL: I couldn’t believe it.
GCN: On one of your responses, you were reversed. You answered “trapezus” but the correct answer was actually “trapezius.” What happened there?
BL: I answered it incorrectly before the commercial break. During the commercial break, the judges went back and listened to it again. I remember when I answered that, I was fumbling and knew I said it incorrectly and thought, “I said it wrong,” but I was ruled correct. But then during the commercial break, I knew they were going to overturn me and they did.
GCN: Did you make any other mistakes?
BL: I had a couple of flubs I wish I could take back, like buzzing in on one where I didn’t have anything to say. I knew the answer was “Philip K. Dick,” but it wasn’t coming out and my brain was playing tricks on me.
GCN: How long does it take to tape one show?
BL: It’s pretty much in real time. The commercial breaks are pretty much right on. It usually takes about a half an hour per show. But we did have some technical difficulties.
GCN: Like what?
BL: In the first show that I was on, there was a long gap in “Final Jeopardy” because of the light board on my computer. I couldn’t write my answer. The computer was down and we had to get off the stage and sit on the side while they went and rebooted everything. Obviously, they don’t put that in the show.
GCN: What if Alex makes a mistake?
BL: Sometimes, during the commercial breaks, Alex will re-read clues that he says. Sometimes he doesn’t like the way he says something, so they will quiet the studio and he re-reads it and they record it and it’s dubbed in.
GCN: You have two children, Isabelle, 10, and Isaac, 2, with your girl-friend, Natalie. How did they like it that you were on tv?
BL: They were great. Isabelle was really excited. When she found out I was going to be on, she couldn’t wait to watch. My son doesn’t completely understand, but he knew that was me on tv and said, “There’s Daddy.”
GCN: Is it true you kept the outcome a secret?
BL: Yes. It was really easy because I knew how exciting it was to have two “come from behind” wins. When my family watched the shows without that knowledge and then they watched me come back from behind was an exciting thing.
GCN: What are you going to do with your prize money?
BL: Put some away for my kids and have a party with my friends.
GCN: Can you come back and participate in “Tournament of Champions?”
BL: Unfortunately, I can’t because I think it is five wins and then they go on a monetary system because there are too many people with that many wins. But I’m happy with my two wins.
To view Brandon’s Jeopardy “Winner’s Circle” interview, go to: