January 1999
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I'm a Gameshow Loser

by Courtney Knopf

Iím a gameshow loser. Yes, thatís right; I went on a gameshow and lost.

But itís okay because they pacified me with lovely parting gifts. And I got at least a few seconds of that mythical 15 minutes of fame.

The show was VH-1ís My Generation, and I somehow fell into being a contestant. I was out CD shopping at the Virgin Megastore on Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood last fall when it all started. Some guy with a clip board was standing officiously next to the new releases stand and he asked me if I knew a lot about music. Well, I do. In fact, I have an amazing capacity for retaining useless information. For instance, did you know that R.E.M. got their name by opening a dictionary to a random page? Well they did. But anyway, I digress. So this officious clip board guy proceeded to tell me that he was looking for contestants for a new music game show that pitted different generations against each other in a battle for complete world domination. Or at least a trip to Vegas.

Auditions rolled around a few weeks later. This is the point where you have to prove that you know the difference between what song went to #1 and what song only peaked at #24. They were held at MTVís Santa Monica offices, and while we waited to take our generational aptitude tests, we met the extra-perky Robyn, the tired-looking, but sassy Lindsay and the incredibly tasty contestant coordinator, Marty. There was a big group of us, 40 or so, and we all had Polaroids taken and then we were handed a 4 page test on music. Each page represented a different decade (60ís, 70ís, 80ís and 90ís). Aside from some tough Disco-related questions, I made short work of it. And doing so, I made it to the second round of auditions. We played test rounds conducted by Marty (the hottie) and I think I may have damaged my bell with all my enthusiasm to answer. So with all that done, they sent us home to wait to see if we had made it to the ranks of contestant.

I was almost sure I wasnít going to make itÖ simply because while I may have a plethora of music trivia at my fingertips, I still have a capacity to come off as a giant doofus. And doing so in front of Marty wasnít exactly an ego boost. But all my great amounts of spazz not withstanding, a week or two later I got a call from Robyn telling me that yes, in fact I was going to be a contestant. I would be playing as the class of í95 (even though I graduated in í96) with my new partner Adam. Apparently it was okay to bend the rules so I could play with Adam, because from what they said, he too was a powerhouse of musical knowledge with whom theyíd been having a hell of a time finding a partner for.

Game day came and I trotted off to the studios on the Vine St. (we were a few blocks down from that legendary intersection with Hollywood Blvd.). I was early, so I settled into one of the couches in the Green Room and waited to meet my partner and our opposing team. One nice thing about television is that there are always flunkies around to bring you diet Coke or sandwiches. Of course I took advantage of this and probably worked my way through a six pack of soda.

My partner arrived and it was like meeting a bizarro male version of myself. Sort of like that episode of Seinfeld where Jerry meets Janeane Garofalo and realizes sheís the female version of him. We were so much alike it was freaky. We were riffing on each other all afternoon and by the time our opposing team got there, they thought we had been friends for years. We found out that we would be playing the Class of í84, and our opponents Robert and Carol arrived. We all got along amazingly well, and we spent a while chatting in the Green Room. After a while we got antsy. But apparently there was a problem. See, the set of My Generation is virtually generated by a computer. The game is shot on an entirely green set so that the computer image shows up. Unfortunately the computer was having some problems. A lot of problems. The kind of problems that meant that the show would not go on that day. We were compensated for our time (5 free Rhino Records CDs) and sent home to have our shows rescheduled.

So the day came and we went back. We ended up being the only team that was all together from the original Black Saturday incident. We got prepped on how the game was going to be structured and we did practice speed rounds. Our time came and we were sent to make up. I was feeling pretty special considering the make up artist was impressed by my choice of lipstick for the day. After that, we were sent into the studio, the assistant put mic packs on us, and we waited out the game that was being finished up.

We took our places behind the buzzers and they rolled the cameras. Marty and Robyn stood off stage cheering us on and trying to rile us up. Let me tell you right now that I blame Marty for losing. I was a little too entranced with his flailing arms to actually pay enough attention to my buzzer. We did fairly wellÖ Adam got docked because he said "Eddie Vedder" instead of "Pearl Jam" for one question, which was lame. And he also didnít know the name of Darius Rucker. Of course I gave my share of wrong answers too. But we almost got it back in the speed roundÖ almost. In the end we lost by one question. But it was okay, because the other team didnít get the big trip to Vegas. They wound up with some mediocre parting gifts like an entertainment center (read: book shelves) and some uber-coffee maker that could do everything except disarm a nuclear warhead. Adam and I got Clip Art pens, his and hers watches and a stack of Rhino Records CDs. And that was that.

I never did actually see my episode. Well, thatís not entirely true; I did catch the last 10 minutes of it once, but of course I wasnít on in the last 10 minutes because my partner and I didnít exactly make it to the last round. But I repeatedly hear from friends, relatives and other various and sundry people that they saw me. Of course my first question to them is "Did I look fat?" and of course we know the right answer to THAT question is "No!" Iím sure that one night Iíll be flipping through channels and see it and be horrified that I didnít know that "Exhale (Shoop Shoop)" went to #1 on the Billboard charts and the Friends theme song only peaked at #24. But until then, Iíll comfort myself with my parting gifts.

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