Although I didn’t win any money on The Joker’s Wild, I apparently made an impression. A few months later my phone rang and I was invited to try out for another TV game show called Tic Tac Dough.
“It’s another Jack Barry production,” the contestant coordinator told me. “And I was told that you are the perfect game show contestant. You know a lot of worthless shit and you’re very enthusiastic.”
Well, ok then. I don’t know if that was quite the reputation I wanted, but… what’s that? You offer cash prizes?
I went down to visit the offices of Barry-Enright Productions in Hollywood where a roomful of other potential players gathered. We all took the requisite trivia test and those of us who passed were asked to stay. The contestant coordinator was a wacky, outgoing fifty-ish year old woman named Lila Michaels. She did as contestant coordinators do and went around the room asking questions to get a sense of which of us would make good TV game show contestants.
Lila finally worked her way around to the guy sitting next to me and said, “Stand up. Tell us your name, what you do for a living, and what your favorite hobby is.”
“My name is Joe,” he said. “I’m a landscape architect and I love baseball.”
“You love baseball, huh,” she snapped. “Who’s your favorite announcer?”
“Well, of course, it’s Vin Scully,” Lila scoffed. “He’s the best in the world. Who’s your second favorite?”
Poor Joe stuttered and stammered and couldn’t come up with another name. Eventually, desperation setting in, he spit out, “Howard Cosell.” (Howard, of course, excelled at virtually every sport except baseball.)
“Thank you very much,” Lila said contemptuously. “Next.”
I stood up and said, “My name is Jim, I’m in advertising, and I’m also a big baseball fan.”
“Then you get the same question,” she said. “Who’s your favorite announcer other than Vin Scully?”
“Well,” I said, “there’s a young guy up in San Francisco who does the Giants games. His name is Al Michaels.”
Lila turned back to Joe and said, “And that, Joe, is why Jim is going to be on the show and you’re not. He thinks my son is the second best baseball announcer in the world.”
Seriously. Out of all the baseball announcers in the world, I just happened to name the contestant coordinator’s son.
Americans reading this will know that Al Michaels has become one of the greatest announcers in the history of American sports. He’s gone on to broadcast the baseball World Series. Monday Night Football. The Super Bowl. You name it, Al’s done it.
But his most famous moment came when the American ice hockey team upended the invincible Soviet team in the 1980 Winter Olympics. As the clock ticked down to zero, Al said the words that made him famous: “Do you believe in miracles?”
I was prescient in calling out his name before he became famous. Do you believe in miracles?
But let me just tell you something:
It was the only question I answered correctly on Tic Tac Dough.
TO BE CONTINUED…