On Monday and Tuesday, I, Slate writer Justin Peters, get to fulfill a lifelong dream of debasing myself on television in order to compete for large sums of money that I do not deserve. I’m appearing on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire—tagline “Wait, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire is still on TV?”—and, as this video clip indicates, I get pretty far into the game. The current host is Terry Crews, the muscular comic actor also known for Brooklyn Nine-Nine, World’s Funniest Fails, and myriad other projects. I can’t reveal how I did, but I can say that the show was an existentially transformative experience in ways that I never would have expected. There’s more than one way that appearing on a game show can change your life.
I’ve fielded several questions since I appeared on the show, and I’ll answer a couple of them here. The rest will have to wait for the longer piece I’m writing, which will run sometime on Wednesday.
How much money did you win?
No, sorry, I honestly can’t tell you. I signed a non-disclosure agreement, and there’s this network lawyer, Neil, who is just waiting for the chance to sue somebody for violating its terms. Have you heard of this guy? Neil the Lawyer? You don’t want to cross Neil the Lawyer.
Also, no, I will not lend you any money.
What’s Terry Crews like?
You know, I’ve really gotten to know Terry Crews over the past few months, what with all of our midday coffees and late-night chat sessions, and the man is a gem. No, actually, I didn’t interact with him at all except for the brief time we spent together on set. The man is a gem, though, as far as I can tell. He exudes charisma and positive energy. He really, really wanted me to do well. We chatted during commercial breaks, and he seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say. Plus, I felt like we had some legitimate chemistry. Before the show, the producers told all the contestants that there were no boundaries with Terry, that he loves it when contestants get really excited and jump on him, or pound him in the chest, or climb him like a human tree. I didn’t climb him like a tree, but I did get uncomfortably close to him more than once, and he was totally into it. Terry Crews is great.
How can I get on the show?
Well, my audition process was pretty easy: I auditioned once, and then two days later they called me and asked me to come on the show. This is atypical. Usually it takes a lot longer. I can tell you what they’re looking for, though: well-adjusted, enthusiastic people who are at least moderately good at trivia and very, very good at being themselves. This isn’t a collegiate Quiz Bowl tournament. The producers are casting a television program, and they’re looking for genuinely interesting people who won’t seize up on camera. If you go into the audition—and they have open auditions all the time, at least in New York—with that in mind, you’ve got a decent chance of getting on the program.
No, seriously, how much money did you make?
Neil? Neil? Are you trying to trick me? Neil!