‘Trivia King’ takes a shot on ‘Jeopardy’

By on April 3, 2011

See Elburn resident Andrew Fuller compete on “Jeopardy” on April 18, at 3:30 p.m., Channel 7 ABC

by Lynn Meredith
Elburn—In the game-playing Fuller family, Andrew Fuller was known as the Trivia King. His family would line up to play Trivial Pursuit or other games with him, but they wanted to make sure they were on his team. He was that good.

Fuller grew up watching “Jeopardy,” playing along with the show and finding that he did pretty well. When he married, his wife Teri noticed the same thing.

“He always beat me,” she said. “He remembers everything. He reads trivia every day. I finally said you either need to try out for the show or try something different.”

So, the seventh-grade special education teacher, whose job is to know a little bit about all subjects, did just that.

The first step was to register to take an online test. The test is live, and participants have 10 to 15 seconds to answer each question. Fuller registered, but failed to get a call. He didn’t let that slow him down. He took the test a second time, and this time he got called for an audition in Chicago.

“I was really excited,” Fuller said. “There were people from all over the Midwest and as far south as Texas. I met a lot of nice people.”

The audition took about two hours and included pictures, mock games with other auditioners, another 80-question timed test and an interview. Fuller was impressed with the variety of people who were trying out for the show.

“There was a librarian from Iowa who was hard-core. I’m sure glad she was not on the show with me,” he said.

That was at the end of the summer, and Fuller said he sort of forgot all about it. Then one day in December, he checked an unfamiliar number on his phone and played the message while in class. It was a call from the casting director letting him know that he had been selected to tape a show.

“The students overheard and started asking, ‘Are you going to be on “Jeopardy?”’ Of course, it took about five minutes for the news to make it down the hall,” he said.

In early January, Fuller flew to Los Angeles to tape the show. He again was impressed with the kindness and encouragement he received, not only from his casting director Maggie, but also from fellow contestants.

“There were people from all walks of life: a veterinary student, accountants, a lawyer, a stay-at-home mom. It was a sportsmanlike atmosphere. No one was out to win at all costs,” Fuller said. “It was fun watching people be on (the show). It was a great competition.”

Fuller emphasized how fair the competition really is. Everyone is well-rounded and smart, but part of succeeding is getting the timing right with the signaling device (the button you press to give your answer) and the luck of the categories.

“So much happens that you’re not thinking about things. Sometimes it’s just an educated guess. A lot of answers you don’t know 100 percent. Sometimes, it’s just 60 percent. But you try anyway,” he said.

He also said that Alex Trebek, the show’s host, is a regular guy who fills the time during commercial breaks with anecdotes about his dogs, humurous quips, and questions from audience members. Everything during the taping was about the competitors having fun and being themselves.

Since his return, his students, understandably, keep asking him when the show will air. Since he cannot disclose the outcome or any of the details of the taping, everyone has to wait until April 18 at 3:30 p.m. to watch and see. His fellow teachers will gather to watch it with him right after school lets out for the day. Friends and family will celebrate with a Jeopardy party the next weekend.

Fuller is encouraging to others who may share his passion.

“If you feel you’d be good at it, or just want to try it, it’s worth giving it a shot,” he said. “Just go online to Sonipictures Entertainment to register to take the test. Anybody can do it.”