On Thursday, Nov. 8, high-school sophomore Caleb Richmond will appear on “Jeopardy!” in the Teen Tournament, bantering with host Alex Trebek and answering rapid-fire questions about everything from biology to first ladies.
For Richmond, a sophomore at New Hampshire’s Phillips Exeter Academy, it’s a dream come true. In March, he took an online test to qualify. Then, he waited. And waited. In June, he received the prized email: He’d qualified for an audition. He was summoned to San Francisco in July to meet the producers.
“I was definitely nervous,” he says. To prepare, he spent the summer answering questions with a practice buzzer and studied a wide range of subjects on flash cards, from literature to state nicknames. At the time, he worked as a junior counselor at Camp Gann Izzy in Manchester, N.H., and he got support from his fellow counselors and campers. Aside from a few friends, though, nobody knew about his star turn.
While at the audition, he competed in a practice game (lots of pop-culture questions, he says) and producers interviewed him to evaluate his camera-readiness. Nine days later, he got a promising call: Producers wanted to confirm his credentials. At that point, Richmond suspected that he’d made the cut. The next day, his mom received the official word. Richmond would soon be on his way to Los Angeles.
Caleb Richmond with the “Jeopardy!” clue crew (Courtesy Tracy Richmond)
The tournament happened on Aug. 28-29, and Richmond was able to take his entire family to the taping for support, including his grandmother.
“I was really nervous beforehand, but once it all started I was so focused on the game,” he says. “The producers were fun, and the kids were really nice.” He was ushered to a green room where he met the other contestants, did more practice games and watched other tapings with his fellow contestants when he wasn’t on the air. Friendly competition aside, he still keeps in touch with his opponents.
Richmond won’t say whether he won (“I think I did the best I could do,” he allows), but he was willing to dish about Trebek.
“He’s pretty funny. He’s witty. He takes questions from the audience during commercial breaks,” he reveals.
Tune in to see him on Thursday night, Nov. 8.
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Kara Baskin is a writer for JewishBoston.com. She is also a regular contributor to The Boston Globe and a contributing editor at Boston Magazine. She has worked for New York Magazine and The New Republic, and helped to launch the now-defunct Jewish Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Email her at email@example.com.