An Interview With Local Celebrity Fred Vaughn

12507103_10205647367209701_3261246364405046412_nLast week Mineral Point, Wisconsin was swept up in Jeopardy! mania as local hero Fred Vaughn became a 4-day Jeopardy! Champion winning $65,700.

Fred seemed remarkably calm as he displayed his impressive knowledge on a vast array of topics to a national audience. On Day 4 he further charmed the hometown crowd by giving a shout out to Hodan Community Services.

Recently, Fred was nice enough to answer some questions about himself and his exciting experience.

HSB: Thanks for agreeing to an interview Fred.  The first question I have to ask is how did you get so smart?

FV: I’m not sure there’s anything TOO special to my “smarts” beyond staying in school, and trying my best to pay attention in general, for starters. I guess I’m just one of those folks who always seems to hold onto little, interesting details about many things.

HSB: You seemed so calm under pressure, were you freaking out inside?

FV: I think how I appeared outwardly during that very first episode should tell you a lot about the inner dialogue. After the first win, I do remember being a bit more comfortable.

HSB: When did you tape the shows?

12366045_1235511226462779_3378261129610312173_oFV: We taped it in Los Angeles during the third week of December – it was delayed a month by Alex Trebek having knee-replacement surgery followed by a slower-than-expected recovery.

HSB: How many changes of clothes did you have to bring to the taping?

FV: They tell you to bring enough changes for up to three outfits, mixing and matching as needed. They’re particular about colors clashing with the background (to the point of very gently asking me to leave the striped shirt I’d worn to my audition at home).

HSB: How long does it take to tape one show, and how much time is there between tapings?

FV: They tape in sequence, five episodes a day with each episode taking about 30 minutes (barring post-production issues or redo of some audio). Occasionally, if a clue gets compromised (say, by someone in the audience yelling out the correct response before the contestants buzz in), they have to re-record with a back-up clue for that category. They say they always have a sixth clue – there’s even an online game with the unused clues from a given day. Between episodes, the defending champion – and Alex, in a separate area – are changing backstage (There’s a nicely-sized star on the champion’s dressing room door in the green room.) while the next two challengers are selected randomly from the invitees in the green room. In my dressing room, it took me about 10 minutes or so each time.

HSB: People say the buzzer is tricky, but you seemed really good at it. Did they give you much time to practice?

FV: The signaling device was not kind to my right thumb, and even though we rehearsed with it both mornings and after lunch before taping, it took some getting used to – especially on a *very* air-conditioned soundstage. I had to adjust my grip a few times, but I managed to get my grip and the timing right, certainly by the end of my first episode.

HSB: How hard was it not to tell anyone that you were a 4-day champion?

FV: As far as telling people, I mostly just tried to smile politely and just keep telling people to watch or record on January 22nd if they could. I may have hinted at the outcome, but mostly I really tried to cultivate an audience. Apparently, I didn’t disappoint.

HSB: What was Alex Trebek like?

FV: Alex is at once sophisticated, kindly, smarmy, snarky, and goofy – those were a few of the sides we got to see of him. As far as I’m concerned, he can be the coolest guy in any room he wants for life if he wants to.

HSB: What do you plan to do with your winnings?

FV: I’m still undecided – home repairs, charitable donations, and some new tech toys come to mind so far. I’ll have a better idea as that time draws closer.

HSB: Are you going to try out for any other game shows, and if the Mineral Point Chamber of Commerce puts on the Brain Games this year will you take part?

FV: I don’t know about other game shows yet, but I have been asked about another Brain Games, and would gladly be a part of that again.

HSB: Thanks for being such a wonderful representative of Mineral Point. It was fun watching you. Will you let us know if you qualify for the Tournament of Champions so we can cheer you on?

FV: There are many rumblings online about my Tournament of Champions odds, but I have nothing else to say on it until an invite appears – not that I’d mind, of course. I had fun the first time, so one more round would be nice.

It sure would be!  Thanks Fred!


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