When Columbia native David Greisman took the "Jeopardy!" online test in 2010, the first step in a lengthy process to become a contestant on the popular game show, he recalls it did not go so well.
"I was humbled by the experience," said the 32-year-old Columbia Association employee, who now resides in Washington.
The daunting 50-question test, which allows you only 15 seconds to answer each question, discouraged Greisman for a few years. Earlier this year, Greisman, who also moonlights as a freelance journalist and boxing writer, got off the mat and tried again.
And he's sure glad he didn't throw in the towel.
On Thanksgiving, Nov. 27, Greisman will appear on the show as one of the hundreds of annual contestants emerging from a field of thousands of applicants.
The show will air on ABC7 in Washington markets at 7:30 p.m. In Howard County, it will be on channel 193 for Comcast and channel 18 for Verizon FiOS subscribers.
FOX45 in Baltimore will air the show at 2 a.m. – the program will be bumped from its normal spot due to football.
While Greisman is barred from discussing the outcome of his game until it airs, he can talk about the overall experience and training for the appearance, and said "I had a lot of fun."
Greisman said he spent a week in California, although he didn't say how much time was spent taping the show. He said he gets asked a lot about meeting host Alex Trebek, who he said is nice although the contestants don't get much time with him. He said the two shared a funny exchange during his interview, but he couldn't reveal details other than it involves Mike Tyson.
Greisman said he found out in May that he had passed the online test, and was called in for in-person auditions in Washington. He said the experience tests both your trivia knowledge, but also your stage presence, which is something the personable Greisman, who works as a media relations specialist in CA's Communications Department, felt good about.
"When I left the in-person audition in D.C., I didn't think I was going to be on the show, but I knew that I had a lot of fun with the process," Greisman said.
In late August, he got a call that he would be on the show. With just six weeks to prepare, Greisman launched into "preparation overdrive." He said he got help from a friend of a friend, Evelyn Rubin, a fellow "Jeopardy!" fan who Greisman said served as his coach.
Rubin, who lives in Toronto, Canada, began tutoring Greisman over the phone. She offered up good books to read, websites to go to and helped quiz him on topics.
"We spoke nearly nightly to prep me for this," Greisman said. "She's a trivia nut; she's smarter than me, in my opinion."
Rubin has taken the online test seven times and had in-person auditions, but has not been on the show. She said the experience of helping Greisman was the next best thing to being a contestant.
"I hope one day I do get to be on the show, but if I don't this is definitely right up there," she said. "It was really exciting to share it with someone. And it makes it very special."
Greisman said he felt good about his preparation going into the taping, even though he only had weeks to prepare and only did so in his spare time.
"There are people who do nothing but prepare, and why not? It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," he said. "I couldn't do that. There are things I wanted to do, and a life I wanted to live."
Greisman said he studied up on high-yield topics – like Shakespeare, U.S. presidents and bodies of water – while also focusing on other aspects besides trivia, like the buzzer.
"Some people on the show know 45 to 50 of the questions; I'm not that smart so I had to hope for the right categories and to be right on the buzzer," he said.
He said his commitment to the buzzer was affirmed during a practice round on the day of his game. After being locked out of several questions, Greisman said he got on a run that gave him a boost of confidence.
"Training for 'Jeopardy!' is like training for a boxing match: you want yourself to peak at a certain time. Walking into the studio that morning, I felt everything I studied for was in my head," Greisman said. "And then it became luck of the draw."