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October 31, 2007

In The End, I Just Wanted a "Wheel of Fortune" Blinky Pen.

By: The Dude on the Right
So I briefly talked about my heading to auditions for "Wheel of Fortune," so I thought I might fill you in a little bit more about the experience because it was really nothing like I originally envisioned though I guess this blog is more of a story so it's a little longer, sorry...

It all started a few months ago when the "Wheel of Fortune" folks announced they were going to be filming some shows in early 2008 at Navy Pier in Chicago, and that eventually they would be holding auditions. I like "Wheel," think I do fairly well at guessing the puzzles before a lot of the contestants, and yell at the TV when I think vowels are bought stupidly. As such I figured "What the hell? When they come to town for auditions why not give it shot?" At the time I figured you just got in a line, they had you fill out some kind of "who are you?" form, maybe do a quick interview, and then would call you later if you qualified.

Then it was announced that the Wheelmobile would be in Chicagoland (actually Rosemont, IL), the weekend of October 20th, and as many times as I saw the Wheelmobile promo during "Wheel" I never paid attention because what actually happens at a Wheelmobile event is nothing like I initially imagined. Nope, it's part game show, part audition, part comedic entertainment, but sadly for me, not part "getting on stage." I did re-check the "Wheel of Fortune" website before I went to the "auditions," and learned a little bit more about what happens. So here you go...

For the Saturday stop it was announced that there would be three "shows," at 1PM, 2:30PM, and 4PM, and that you really just needed to arrive about an hour before each "show."  So, of course, I'm at the Rosemont Theatre at about 11AM, which was easily an hour too early. But I get there, they give you a little slip to fill out with pertinent stuff like your name, address, phone, and a line for hobbies and cool things about you. I dipped back into my love of bowling (which seemed to be very popular among the people who ended up on stage), and movies, but then realized my life is fairly boring because I couldn't think of anything else. I probably should have called some of my friends at the time, like some other people were doing, to remind me about what is cool about me, but then I realized most of my friends would probably just say "Dude, you don't do anything fun, other than seeing a lot of movies by yourself, and you used to see a lot of concerts. Hey, what happened with that anyway? Maybe you need to quick watching so much TV?"  After I put my slip in the collection box it occurred to me I should have written down "I can wiggle my ears."

So I fill out my form, buy a $3 bottle of water, drop my slip in the collection box, (remember about my ears), fill out another form to win prizes, and find a nice aisle seat, with an hour and forty-five minutes yet to kill before the 1PM "show." At this point I am ecstatic, well maybe not ecstatic, but I'm happy I bought an iPhone so I surfed the web and played some games in anticipation of the start of the show.

The time comes, actually it's a little before 1PM, and the first level of the theater is packed solid. Out come Marty and Heidi (okay, I have to admit, I'm not totally sure those were there names, but it's the best I could find via Google at the time, and I'm too lazy to actually make a phone call or two to confirm, so for now I'm going with Marty and Heidi, without any last names) with Heidi playing the role of a fake Vanna White, and Marty (who seems to be a big fan of the movie "Old School") actually having a harder job than Pat Sajak because he has to act as MC, interviewer, game show host, and all around funny dude. The process is then pretty simple: All of the audition slips have been put in this big gold drum, Heidi spins the golden drum and pulls out five names, Marty calls the names the best he can and the five people come up on stage. Marty then interviews them, one by one. Then he spins a wheel to see which parting gift they will win (things like caps, t-shirts, duffel bags), and then adds an extra couple of trinkets, like a Wheel of Fortune deck of cards or Wheel of Fortune blinky pen. And finally Marty directs the five folks through a speed round, you know, the round at the end of "Wheel" when Pat gives the wheel a final spin, the contestant picks a letter and tries to solve, the next contestant picks a letter and tries to solve, etc., etc., and the same thing happens on stage except there's no giving a wheel a final spin. The five folks pick a letter, try to solve, eventually one of them does solve the puzzle, and then five more people get their shot at being on stage.

The weird part about being there is that for about 45 minutes it's kind of like part game show, where you are in the audience, but since you are there to hopefully get on the show (at least most of the people are), there's also that anticipation part that maybe this time your name will be pulled from the golden drum, there's also that part where you are sitting in the audience knowing you would be better during the interview than that person up on stage right now, there's also that part that you can't believe the person picked that letter, and there's also that part when you know the answer to the puzzle and can't believe no one else on stage has solved it yet.

Then the last 15 minutes come.

Now the realization and disappointment begins to hit because your name hasn't been called yet, you didn't get your chance to show you would be the greatest "Wheel of Fortune" contestant player ever, you wish they would go a little quicker on stage so that maybe the golden drum will spin one last time and your name will finally be called, and you start to get a little pissed as you look back on the people who did get called to the stage and wonder what in the hell they were actually doing there. During my little show there were two people that stood out as "You took my spot!"-ers, and probably have no chance in hell of getting on the show. One person was this little old lady who maybe enjoys watching the show, but it sure hasn't helped her command of the English language. Her interview was exactly what you would imagine of a grandma, right off of the boat, not really understanding the phrase "What do you do for fun?", and even after she starts to figure out what you are asking, you can't understand her even if you wanted to. Part of the other thing about getting your chance at the audition is that sure, maybe you are nervous, but if you let that inhibit your having fun, I'm guessing the folks who pick the folks for the next round of auditions skip right over you. This case in point came from a lady who wouldn't sing. At the beginning of the show Marty mentions that if you want to sing, well, sing. If you want to dance, dance. If you want to tell a joke, go ahead, just keep it clean, so as he's doing his quick interview of the lady he asks what she does for fun. She mentions she likes to hang out with her family and sing karaoke. Marty sees the opening for her to maybe seal her spot to the next round and asks her to sing, to which she shyly declines. He even prods her a little more, but she still says no. A few contestants later a dude says he likes to shoot pool, or something like that, and sing. Marty gives this dude his opening, asking if he'll sing, and he belts out a quick verse. I'm guessing he had a really good shot to go on, while "no-singing lady who took my spot," not so much.

And so Marty announces the last five names are coming out of the golden drum, my name isn't called, and it's time to make a choice: Stick around for the next show (although from the line that snaked around the Rosemont Theatre at the time I'm guessing it was already "Sold Out"), stick around even later for the 4PM, or just head back to the Dude-Pad and get some things done. Sure, my dedication for getting on the show maybe wasn't as high as those who tried every show during the weekend, but after going through the last 15 minutes portion of that first show, the disappointment that I didn't get my chance to shine, and the being pissed off because I know I would have been better on stage than the old lady, I felt ready to retire my interview speech: "My name's The Dude on the Right. By day I'm an consultant for the construction industry and by night I publish an internet magazine. I love movies, music, and TV. I have 3 fish.  Steve's about 6 years old, Ashley's about 5, and Bam is about 3."  Marty would say something, because he wasn't wasn't paying that much attention like, "You don't know the age of your children?", to which I would retort, "I said 'I have 3 fish.'", and the people would have laughed.  Then, of course, not to split the crowd like the Cub's fan did, I would have yelled "Go Bears!"  In my head it worked perfectly, but sadly, Heidi never picked my name out of the golden drum.

Not getting picked aside, though, it was actually a pretty enjoyable time. I'll give a ton of credit to Marty for his ability to keep things fun and deal with people who are either nervous beyond belief or goofy beyond belief or have no point having their name in the golden drum beyond belief, and I would say that even if you don't want to be on the show, and if the Wheelmobile comes to your town, head to the auditions for an fun experience.  Around me I heard a lot of husbands and boyfriends saying they were there for their wives/girlfriends, and hoped they wouldn't get picked to go up on stage, to which I say, "Don't fill out the damn audition slip and take my spot!", but I'm guessing, in the bottom of their stomachs, there was this little part of them hoping their name would be pulled from that golden drum.

Even though I blew my chance at attending another "show" on Saturday, what pissed me off more was that I wasted more chances by staying at home to watch the Chicago Bears implode on Sunday when I could have been at another audition or two during the crappy football game, and if, by chance, Heidi pulled my audition slip, and Marty mispronounced my last name (because, for whatever reason, people can't pronounce "Right"), I could have been able to tell about how much I love my fish and might have remembered that part about being able to wiggle my ears.  Even, if in the end, after getting up on stage, I still didn't make it to the next audition round, I would have really liked to get that "Wheel of Fortune" blinky pen.

Like the Chicago Cubs, I guess, maybe I'll have to wait until next year, unless, somehow, someway, my audition slip is pulled at random for another chance at the "Wheel of Fortune" Chicago finals.  I guess, right now, I better hope I wrote my phone number or e-mail address in a legibly fashion when I was transcribing it on my audition slip using my "Souvenir," "Wheel of Fortune" computer CD as a clipboard, otherwise they might be trying to contact who knows who.  Such might be the life of a wannabe "Wheel of Fortune" contestant.

That's it for this one!  I'm The Dude on the Right!!  L8R!!!

Posted by Rightdude at October 31, 2007 7:18 PM


Hey Dude on the Right!

Hey thanks.!

I am taping my show at Navy Pier next Sunday (March 9). It is going to be "Going to the Game" week. It will be airing the week of May 12, and I will find out my exact air date after the taping is over.!

Take care for now...


Posted by: Allan Nacapuy at February 27, 2008 11:00 PM

Hi Allan,
Congrats on getting picked for the show, and I do remember you with the sign.
Good Luck!
The Dude on the Right

Posted by: The Dude on the Right at February 19, 2008 4:09 PM

Hey Dude on the Right!

I was at the Saturday audition, too. Well, I didn't get a chance to audition, but I was there. You might even remember me as the only person there holding up a sign (RSTLME). Pure random luck got me an invite to the final audition, made the cut, and now I have been chosen as a contestant. I'm hoping to get called to do my taping at Navy Pier in a few weeks. I'll keep you posted on the show. Here's a link with my audition experience from the local paper last week.,dw-wheel-021308-s1.article


Posted by: Allan Nacapuy at February 19, 2008 1:09 AM

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