Norwich University Staffer Jonathan Trutor to Appear on 'Jeopardy!' | Live Culture

Norwich University Staffer Jonathan Trutor to Appear on 'Jeopardy!'


Jonathan Trutor, right, with Alex Trebek - SONY PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT
  • Sony Pictures Entertainment
  • Jonathan Trutor, right, with Alex Trebek
When a "Jeopardy!" staffer phoned Jonathan Trutor in early December to inform him that he'd been selected to be on the television game show, the Norwich University instructional technologist put the caller on hold.  “I felt kind of bad about it, but I had a meeting,” explained Trutor. “I wasn’t trying to be jokey.”

The Colchester resident’s journey to be on the game show took just a few weeks. Soon after taking an online "Jeopardy!" quiz, Trutor received an invitation to an audition in Boston the weekend before Thanksgiving. By mid-January, he was on his way to Los Angeles for a taping before a live audience.

The show will be broadcast next Monday, March 26, 7 p.m. on local NBC affiliate WPTZ-TV.

Trutor, 34, said he has been watching "Jeopardy!" with his family since he was 5. An erstwhile history professor, he's also a pop culture and MGM film junkie.

The first time Trutor tried out for the show online, he was an undergraduate at the University of Vermont. He put in a “full effort” in his second attempt, he said, and was happy to be selected.

Tackling the questions under stress wasn’t the biggest challenge, Trutor said. “The hardest part of the whole experience of the game is wanting to share with my loved ones what happened."

Though he’s careful not to divulge details of his January taping, Trutor did share that the show's staffers were “phenomenally nice people,” and most seemed to be from the northeastern U.S.

Seven Days caught up with Trutor ahead of his TV appearance on Monday.

SEVEN DAYS: Do you watch other game shows?
JONATHAN TRUTOR: I liked "The Price Is Right" until they got Drew Carey. I kind of liked "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" when it first came out. And I, of course, love ["Family Feud" host] Steve Harvey. I like "Family Feud" a lot.

SD: So, why 'Jeopardy!'?
JT: It's the Cadillac of game shows. It's not only what you know. It's how you put information together. It's a bit of gambling, which is always a little bit of fun — the daily doubles and things like that. It's kind of the perfect storm of things that I find interesting.

SD: How did you prepare for the show?
JT: Some folks online were kind enough to compile every question that was ever on the show. I put them into an app called Quizlet. I actually asked myself 5,000 questions from the history of the show going back to 1984.

I pulled from every category that I thought I was weak in, [like] Shakespeare. I didn't think that I knew enough about science, and then I realized that most of the science they asked was kind of eighth-grade-y.

SD: Which categories were your strongest suits?
JT: History, geography. I'm pretty good with basic phrases in a couple of languages. I felt pretty secure in most things. I play a lot of trivia. I've got that strong base in knowledge where I feel kinda comfortable in most things — on the verge of being stupidly overconfident.

I knew what I didn't know going in. I knew that I didn't want to run straight into molecular physics or engineering.

SD: What were the other contestants like? Did you have a face-off?
JT: Some people come in with that chip on their shoulder. I'm like, I'm never going to see these folks again, so I want to leave a good impression. It's not the Ultimate Fighting Championship. It's the Olympics for nerds.

SD: Did you have a good-luck charm or do any rituals to psych yourself up before the show?
JT: I had all my good mojo with me. It was all things that people had given me for Christmas that had kind of Christmas magic to it, for me, at least. My mum gave me a little elephant the size of your thumbnail. I had that in my pocket the whole time. And I had a Norwich lapel pin on. I was wearing lucky socks that my soon-to-be father-in-law gave me.

SD: What would you have done differently if you could go back in time?
JT: I prepared the best I could. I went out and executed maximally. I would have gotten my circadian rhythm in a little bit better shape, maybe. I would probably have flown in to LA a couple of days earlier so that I could have my body on the right Pacific Coast time.

SD: Do you have plans to be on another game show?

JT: I signed a contract. I don't think I can appear for another year or so on another game show. I think it would be fun to be on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" or something like that. It could be fun to be on "Family Feud" with all the folks in my family.