Yesterday afternoon, I auditioned to be on Mastermind. That’s right. Be impressed.
I bet you were expecting a far more uninteresting diary entry today about how I sat on my big fat arse all day or maybe one of those cheating ones in which I discuss a thought or a dream rather than something that actually happened. But no! Today was composed of events!
At about 3:30 in the afternoon, I got a call from a friend who declared that there’d be auditions at the student union and that I might like to go along. He was challenging me in an almost mocking fashion since he knows what a massive fat head I am and that I enjoy playing along with the quiz show at home and that it was about time I put my money where my mouth was – and for that matter is.
“But I’ve just brewed a pot of coffee,” I grumbled in all sincerity. I’d intended on having a quiet hour in my dressing gown with a book before I had to leave for work.
“Well it’s up to you,” said he, “but you’re always saying that you’ll go on it one day”.
He was right of course. And suddenly, coffee cooling, I was riddled with doubt. I’m constantly having people tell me that they saw me in the audience on the Stewart Lee DVD (repeated ad nauseum on the Paramount comedy channel) and the last thing I want is a similar level of attention concerning the extraordinary number of times I said “Pass” on the country’s most famous quiz show ever.
But I was getting ahead of myself. The audition would be fun and I’d get no further anyway so the problems of being televised would be moot. So I headed off to the union to see what was what.
“I’m here for the Mastermind auditions,” I mumbled, slightly ashamed of myself. What kind of self-aggrandising bastard actually thinks he has the stomach and the nous to go on Mastermind? Clearly I was full of myself. The fact that the show is called Mastermind made it a hugely awkward thing to ask about. It might as well be called The I’m clever and great show, which would be more honest really.
The guy at the reception desk – a cheerful bearded former-roadie or something – seemed confused at first and then wildly amused. Apparently he’d not heard of any such thing taking place in his union and the entire concept of a Mastermind Audition was funny to him. He was right of course: it is funny. I suspect, however, that this is his reaction to everything he gets asked: I once bought tickets for The Vagina Monologues from this chap – it must have been the hundredth time he’d been asked for such tickets but he had still found the concept of a show about fannies hilarious. Next time I do standup, I shall certainly give him free tickets so that he can fill the place with his infectious laughter-at-not-very-funny-things.
“The TV Show? Haha! Pass!”
“Yes, the TV Show. They sent a flier around our offices this morning apparently, asking us to pop along?”
“What’s your specialist subject going to be?”
“I’m not telling you. It’s too embarrassing”. In truth there is nothing embarrassing about my proposed specialist subject but I was worried that the proud declaration of “the novels of Kurt Vonnegut” would make me look even more pretentious and alone than I did already.
I was beginning to think that the whole thing was a joke. Had I been tricked by my own arrogance? I had wondered previously that a student union seemed an unlikely place to stage such an event: everyone in attendance would be a student and yet most Mastermind contestants tend to be middle-aged geeks. Perhaps my pal had been winding me up. I remembered my coffee sitting at home, abandoned next to the pile of “to read” books. If I was on the receiving end of a practical joke I would be very annoyed at the substantial loss of dressing-gown time.
The bouncer guy made a few calls and it transpired that I was in the wrong union building. Of course! Glasgow has two unions: I was in the QMU when in fact I had to be in the GUU. Beard-o wished me luck and I continued on my way.
Eventually I found the place but only after spotting a poster on a student notice board detailing the exact location.
I was introduced to a ‘panel’ of two ladies from the BBC, one of whom seemed to be a producer and dealt with TV-related things and one of whom seemed to be a professional smartypants and would ask me about such things as specialist subjects. She nodded knowingly after each of my suggestions and liked the idea of doing Kurt Vonnegut. My two other suggestions, however, (Red Dwarf and Sherlock Holmes) had been the focus of specialist subjects in the recent past so I had to quickly make up two more. I foolishly chose ‘the work of Stewart Lee’ and – because I must have panicked – David Lynch’s Twin Peaks series which I’ve not even seen in its entirety.
The producer seemed extremely excited at the mention of Twin Peaks. Just my luck. I’ll probably end up being quizzed on that now and I can’t even watch it all in preparation due to the famous non-release of season two. I’m basically fucked.
Time for my general knowledge audition. Smartypants fired twenty GK questions in my direction, apparently collating correct answers, educated wrong answers, and passes. Out of 20, I scored four passes and sixteen educated answers, seven of which were correct. I’m quietly pleased with this score given that most of my passes were on sports questions, which I am proud not to have known.
So assuming I am asked back and assuming I can do Kurt Vonnegut rather than Twin Peaks, I should do alright.
Producer lady took a photograph of me, which I assume is completely normal and done for all audition people, and I left feeling vaguely ashamed and in need of a poo.