‘Who is, Sean Kram?’ Edmonds resident to appear on ‘Jeopardy!’ Tuesday night
If you see a familiar face on Tuesday night’s “Jeopardy!” game show, that’s because it belongs to Edmonds resident Sean Kram.
The television appearance fulfills a long-time dream for the former Edmonds-Woodway High School drama student, who says his work with E-W drama teacher Bruce Mindt and his drama studies at the University of Washington played a key role in his success.
Being on the show does requires a memory for facts, something that Kram –a former partial International Baccalaureate student at E-W and the son of an Edmonds Community College librarian — was confident he had. But he added, “it’s not all about having the answers to a quiz show…it’s about entertainment.”
“I would say my drama training prepared me quite well,” said the 24-year-old Kram, who isn’t allowed to share in advance of Tuesday night’s broadcast how he did during his appearance.
The son of Lorraine and John Kram of Edmonds, the 2007 E-W grad had been watching “Jeopardy!” since age 4, and he had always wanted to try out. One day in March 2012, a friend posted the announcement of a “Jeopardy!” testing period on Facebook, that was happening later in the day. Although he had little time to prepare, Kram signed up and took the online quiz.
Ten months later, in January 2013, he was riding the bus home from downtown Seattle when he received an email from “Jeopardy!” asking him to come to Los Angeles in February to audition. It had been so long since he had taken the test, he was skeptical at first. “I thought it was spam,” Kram said.
The show requires both those trying out and actual contestants to cover their own travel and lodging, although there is a hotel discount. And contestants do receive a minimum of $1,000 each even if they don’t win anything on the show. Although it was money out of his pocket to audition, Kram saw the trip not only as a opportunity fulfill his dream, but to return to his roots, as he had been born in LA and spent his childhood there.
To prepare for the audition, he watched as many “Jeopardy!” episodes as possible. “The more you watch the game, you get an idea of what categories show up,” he said. Kram said he also “tried to read up as much as I could,” especially books on popular culture
During the tryouts, 30 contestants gathered in a hotel conference room, and were called up three at a time to tables with makeshift buzzers, Kram said. Three contestant coordinators did their best imitations of host Alex Trebek, asking each potential contestant “to say something about yourself and play the game as if you were on the show.” Kram admits he was looking forward to observing and learning from the other contestants, but as fate would have it, he was the first one picked.
And that’s when the drama training kicked in. “It’s opportunity for staff to see how you think on the spot,” Kram said. “Basically, whether you are TV-worthy.”
Five months later, in July, he received notification that he was selected as a contestant, with taping to be held in mid-September. He began training for the show in earnest, attending regular “pub trivia” events at local bars through “Geeks Who Drink,” a national organization with Seattle-area events. Friends and family also peppered him with trivia questions.
When the big moment arrived, Kram arrived in LA the day before the taping to give himself some time to relax. “I went down to the beach in Santa Monica to find some inner peace for the next day,” he said.
The morning of the show, a small bus arrived at the hotel at 7:30 a.m. to whisk Kram and the other contestants to the studio where the show is taped. (Kram explained that the taping is done on a compressed schedule, during which five shows are taped each day so that there are two weeks’ worth after two days of work.)
Taping for Kram’s show didn’t start until around noon, which gave him time to learn the show rules and even practice a bit in the studio.
He recalls the audience being much smaller than it seems on television — 50 to 100 people — “not unlike being on stage at Edmonds-Woodway,” he quipped.
As for the show’s famous host, Alex Trebek, “he’s much looser, more jovial when he’s not being a quiz master,” Kram said. “He’s a lot of fun and definitely a showman.”
As for his own future, Kram would only say he is in Edmonds for the moment, but doesn’t rule out a possible return to LA for career opportunities. As to whether the results of his “Jeopardy!” appearance may play a role in any of that, we’ll have to stay tuned…
– By Teresa Wippel