Q & A with Josh Frumkin

     First, I’ve been asked to share the results of today’s episode. The final clue in Literary First Lines: “‘You better not never tell anybody but God,’ begins this 1982 novel, whose film version garnered 11 Oscar nominations.”
The results:
Kris Hamilton 17300 + 6000, for a 3-day total of 60301.
Gonzalo Rufatt 5600 + 4400
Debra Newman 0 (Didn’t play.)
     My Coryat today was 23200; 26400 without negs.

     Josh Frumkin played on December 7th, 10th, and 11th. Enjoy!

Q: You mentioned you got to see Jason play before you faced him. I assume you meant on TV, and you taped the last episode of a Tuesday?
A: I taped the last episode of a Wednesday.  I meant that now it was fun to see Jason begin his run and fill in what happened leading into the morning of my tape day (at which point he was a 3-day champ).  I didn’t meet anyone until Wednesday morning, waiting for the shuttle.  Melanie (from the 12/5 episode) had been there on Tuesday and pointed Jason out to us as the champ.  I was terrified as to what it would be like to meet the champ, but Jason could not have been a sweeter, more humble person.  I tried to be the same when I flew back out the next week to begin taping on the Tuesday for 12/10.  You learn quickly, I think, that everyone else is as nervous as you are, they just might show it differently.  To not name names, one person might be very vocally nervous, one might take a billion cigarette breaks, one person (me) might not have slept or eaten for a week (more or less).  For some, it manifested when the cameras rolled, which was unfortunate.  It is an insanely stressful environment, but only because of the pressure the contestants put on themselves.  Maggie and company make it insanely fun and keep it as loose as possible, but I’m very, very competitive and I didn’t fly all the way out there to lose, especially the second week.  I admit I was happy Jason lost, he was quite good and I’m excited to see him in the ToC (I’m assuming he was invited, I have no inside info), and I’m glad I didn’t play him.  Plus, I’m sure there’s something to each contestant group rooting for “one of their own” to take the champ out and Jennifer North did a great job in doing just that.
Q: Why did you watch the worst movies from 2000 to 2009?
A: Because they were there?  Because of the economy, my work furloughed us on Fridays, beginning in late 2009, right around the same time as these end of year/end of decade lists came out.  I have always considered myself a connoisseur of bad cinema (clearly, I should see more good ones like ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf’) and I was shocked to find I had only watched three of the hundred movies on that list.  So, to much ridicule (more on that in a bit), I planned to watch a movie a week on Friday and review them on my (now-defunct) pop culture blog.  It took me almost two years and a lot of self-torture — one cannot appreciate the actual physical pain of watching Dana Carvey’s ‘Master of Disguise’ without seeing it — but I got through every last one.
     The humor/coincidence of it ties back in on Monday’s (12/10) episode.  I went into Final Jeopardy with a commanding lead on a very tough pair of opponents. The category pops up as 1920s Literature and I get nervous.  Literature is a *huge* hole for me, especially from that time.  I’m calculating my bet on the scrap paper and trying to think of everything I can about ‘The Great Gatsby’ or ‘Ulysses’, neither of which I’ve read.  The clue pops up and I see the name “Uncle Pio” and I’m amazed the camera didn’t pick up my jaw dropping.  It’s such an uncommon name that it jumped out at me.  I’ve never read the book, didn’t know Wilder had written it then, but an adaptation of ‘The Bridge of San Luis Rey’ was #52 on that list of bad movies.  For all my wife and friends made fun of me for watching those movies, it had just made me, based on my bet, $6,002.  The ultimate “I told you so.”  My wife can never mock me for that kind of thing again (yeah, right).  If that ridiculous stroke of luck used up my karma so I got a tough Final the next episode in, based on my MBA and work experience, what should have been a gimme category, then so be it.  The Tuesday loss, in retrospect, may be worth the Monday story.
Q: Did you stay to watch the rest of the day being taped?

A: I didn’t.  I had watched four episodes the week before (since my show was a Friday show) and I was just ready to get out of there and clear my head.  I went to lunch with my college roommate, who lives in LA and was at both tapings.  When I got back to the hotel, Joel, who I beat on Monday, and his wife and Jan, who was on Tuesday with me, were having lunch in the lobby.  I pulled up a chair and ended up staying for five hours as more and more contestants filtered in, so I got all of the scoop on how the other episodes went and got to bond with so many of them, which was great.  Jeopardy! contestants are amazing.  I’m sure there’s a rare bad apple — there has to be — but every one I’ve met has been nothing short of an amazing person.  A few are shy, so you don’t get to know them as much, but the others are so kind and generous and brilliant and attractive and humble.  I make my friends sick with my gushing.  I think the honor of being chosen from such a large group to be a contestant humbles people and I think Maggie and crew do a great job of picking people that you’d root for on TV.  I’ve shared this once-in-a-lifetime experience with these people and many of them have become great friends over Facebook since.
Q: Have you ever thought about coming to the unofficial Jeopardy! reunion, since you live so close? 
A: I wasn’t aware at all of that, but I’m totally in for next year.  I need an outlet for this stuff bouncing around my brain.  I keep joking that I’ll stop looking things up when I don’t know them because I can’t benefit from knowing trivia anymore, but that’s ridiculous.  I’ve always been a person who *hates* not to know things and, if nothing else, I think that is at the foundation of any Jeopardy! contestant.  If we’re all going to be know-it-alls, at least we’ve all been paid at least $1,000 for it!
Q: By the way, how did you find the blog, and how long have you been reading it?
A: One of my close friends since college was a champ in season 27 (Marissa Goldsmith, she ended Tom Nissley‘s run) and she highly recommended jboard after I got “the call”.  I think I saw you on there and also in googling J!-related websites, trying to read anything I could about the contestant experience or about the flow of games.  Once I was done taping, I got my fix by reading this stuff voraciously, so I’ve been probably been reading it every day since at least the beginning of this season.  Of any prep work that I did before taping, I think my most valuable was working on Coryat
score, so I love that you talk about it.  In looking back, my buzzer speed was exceptional, but I think it was my discipline from that practice (my stats on j-archive are crazy) that focused me towards the success I was fortunate enough to have.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to say?
A: I got the rare pleasure of watching Tuesday’s episode (where I lost) with Rachel (who beat me) at her watch party.  She lives like 20 minutes away from me.  After three months (we taped the week of Labor Day), I was over the loss and it was great closure to be able to cheer, with her friends and family, for the new champ.  By the time I’m writing this, Alistair — with whom I have become great friends over Facebook — has unseated her.  Both of them are great people (see above, my gushing about J! contestants).
     When I took the online test in January (it was my third or fourth try and I had never passed), I would have been pretty surprised to have gotten an audition.  After my audition, I was sure I would never get “the call” this time.  And, by the end, to be a two-time champ, have led at the end of every round I played (until the last FJ), and have people on message boards talking about how I would have done well in the ToC?  (I wouldn’t, I haven’t even read ‘The Great Gatsby’.)  That’s just hard to wrap my head around, especially still this close to it happening.  Eventually, I’ll appreciate the experience even more than I already do.  Thanks to you for your awesome blog and to the people over at jboard and the archivists at j-archive for their support and love of the show.  It has been a mind-blowing honor to be a part of a cultural icon and be in people’s living rooms for a few nights.  My now-two-year-old daughter is in for some rough times ahead.  Only seven or eight more years until she can audition for Kid’s Week. 🙂
     Thank you, Josh! 
%d bloggers like this: