Area resident to compete on Jeopardy!


I’ll take future local celebrities for $200, Alex.

Answer: A Seymour stay-at-home mom who will compete on “Jeopardy!”

Question: Who is Amanda Barlau?

Jackson County residents will want to tune in to “Jeopardy!” on Tuesday, as Barlau, a Seymour resident, will compete on the popular nightly game show.

Barlau, who is married to the Rev. Joseph Barlau at Redeemer Lutheran Church and mother of two with another on the way, has been watching the show for as long as she can remember.

Some of those memories include watching reruns of the show on the Game Show Network, setting her VCR to record the show each night while in college and her brother and sister always urging her to try out for the show.

The first step was to take the online test, which an estimated 30,000 do when the show hosts the test twice each year, Barlau said. The online test gives participants 15 seconds for each of the 50 questions asked from 50 categories.

From the pool of 30,000, around 3,000 to 5,000 are invited to a live audition that features a mock version of the show after another online test.

Barlau’s invitation came in the spring, and she and her family set out for Minneapolis. That was a convenient spot since her husband’s family lives near Minneapolis.

Barlau said she didn’t have high expectations since she was busy raising her children, especially a recent newborn.

“I was still getting up with the baby several times a night, hadn’t been able to watch the show very often and was not as on top of current events or pop culture as I was before having kids,” she said. “But I figured the process itself would be fun, and it really was.”

Following the second test before the mock show, Barlau said she regained confidence on how she would compete.

“My practice game started a little rough, but once I got going, I felt like I did pretty well,” she said. “I left happy with how it went and hopeful that I might get a call at some point.”

The show will keep potential contestants on hand for 18 months. Barlau didn’t have to wait that long, as she received word in July she would compete on the show for a taping in August.

She actually missed the call, as the family was traveling and she received an email saying producers were attempting to contact her.

“I was traveling when they called but couldn’t answer because I didn’t have a good phone signal,” she said, adding staff told participants they would only contact them with good news. “They sent me an email, which I saw before I went to bed, but it just said they were trying to contact me and asked me to call them back.”

Barlau and her family flew to California on Aug. 28 for the taping. Her husband and some family members were in the studio audience.

She described legendary host Alex Trebek as “down-to-earth” as he engaged with the contestants and audience members well.

“He was very candid and forthcoming when answering questions but at the same time witty and very frank,” she said.

Her husband asked him what his hobbies were during a commercial break, and Trebek said he enjoyed fixing up his old house and shared a story of him in a trench in the front yard fixing a water pipe. The Barlaus were impressed.

“Keep in mind he’s 77,” Amanda said.

The show films about five shows per day. Participating in the show is quite an experience, Barlau said.

After signing some legal documents and getting a rundown of how the show would operate, contestants did a rehearsal, and contestants were randomly selected for the show.

The most difficult part wasn’t the variety of topics or the intimidation of being on television — in fact, Barlau forgot the audience was even there as she participated — but it was getting the timing right while using the buzzer contestants use to answer a question.

“After the question is read, lights on the side of the board turn green, and you can buzz in,” she said, adding if a contestant buzzes in too soon, they are locked out for a quarter of a second.

“That’s why you see contestants hitting their buzzers repeatedly. Since everybody there is obviously very knowledgeable, it often comes down to who masters the timing of the buzzer.”

One thing she will not forget is hearing the legendary Johnny Gilbert announce her name.

“It was pretty surreal and definitely something I’ll always remember,” she said.

Seeing the set of one of her favorite shows was a great experience, too, she said.

“It was really neat seeing the set and learning more about the behind-the-scenes of a television show in general and the specifics for one of my favorites,” she said.

[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”At a glance” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

Watch Seymour resident Amanda Barlau compete on “Jeopardy!” on Tuesday.

CBS WLKY 32 out of Louisville

NBC WTHR 13 out of Indianapolis


No posts to display