After attempts to get on “Jeopardy” as a teenager, Williamstown native, Kevin Walsh, finally got an opportunity to play the televised game.
“I passed the teenage tournament test but didn’t make it too much further up the food chain,” said Walsh, whose “Jeopardy” episodes began airing on Oct. 8. “I was really happy to be officially from Williamstown on the show this time … to be able to make that official and to represent Williamstown on “Jeopardy” made me really happy.”
Walsh attended Williamstown High School and moved west to attend the University of Southern California. He studied film and now works at Amblin Partners as a story analyst, someone who reads scripts and has input on a story and how well it will do with the public.
Walsh credits his move to California for giving him an edge against other “Jeopardy” competitors who were unable to travel due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“Maybe the contestant pool at the moment is a bit more narrow due to the travel restrictions,” noted Walsh, who filmed his episodes months ago. “Some people audition multiple times. Some people pass the test and wait for years, and I was lucky to get a very quick turnaround.”
“Jeopardy” has been a staple in Walsh’s life since childhood. His father was interested in music, movies and pop culture and his mother was a big reader. According to Walsh, trivia was always in his wheelhouse.
“I just enjoy the show, always liked learning and trivia,” he said.
Walsh decided there was no better time to attempt to get on the show than during COVID restrictions that allow eager participants to take the entry test online.
“It used to be very specific, limited times you could take the test, and you had to go somewhere and take it,” he explained. “It felt like you were investing a lot into that, but logging onto the ‘Jeopardy,’ site where you take a test that is maybe 15 minutes, there is no real investment there.”
That was not the only consequence of the pandemic that affected the game. According to Walsh, “Jeopardy” filming was socially distanced and there was no live studio audience. Behind the scenes, everyone was required to wear masks.
“My experience behind the scenes is going to be so much different, so odd and specific to the way things are run right now,” Walsh said. “You get to go hang out with other people who dig ‘Jeopardy’ and watch people play for most of the day.
“It’s just the experience itself is kind of amazing; it was unforgettable,” he added. “Just to be 10 feet away from Alex Trebek is a lifelong bucket list item.”
Despite the COVID restrictions, Walsh was enthusiastic about the show’s process, one he described in minute detail.
“Once you get selected, they tell you, ‘Don’t bother studying because you can’t learn everything,’” Walsh explained. “But of course, you are going to study stuff; it’s just human instinct.”
Contestants have a practice round where they get used to the buzzer and the podium, he added. Then backstage, the contestants who aren’t currently participating can watch other players on a closed-circuit network.
“This was completely unexpected,” Walsh said of the “Jeopardy” experience. “It’s one of those things that you think, ‘This is never going to be checked off my bucket list.’
“There are certainly a lot of other things, but they mostly involve travel, which (is) not really in the cards at the moment. We’ll have to see how the world shapes up.”