Interview conducted and written by Corissa Poley
This is the second episode in the Queries Quintus series with WHALE; interviews with artists and writers containing five (quintus, in Latin) basic conversational queries.
Cory Anotado has loved game shows since he was 4 years old. In recent years, he’s used his talents and skills as a game show host and game creator to begin an annual, British-inspired fundraising campaign for children with autism, and cancer patients.
We’re here to interview Cory about game shows, and find out what the 24-hour Game Show Marathon is all about. Cory and his co-hosts, Bob Hagh and Christian Carrion, will be staying up for 24 hours and playing various games. Let’s find out how the game show will go down – and read for exclusive show facts.
(1) Tell us about your history with game shows.
Cory: Well, my history with game shows started when I was a child. My grandparents were the ones who raised me, and my grandmother, she worked the graveyard shift at a hospital for kids. In the mornings, she’d putter around and watch TV. Most of the time in the early 90’s when you’re watching TV in the daytime it’s either a soap or a game show. My grandmother didn’t like soaps very much, so I was at an early age inundated with game shows, and oddly, The People’s Court. I guess I would have been 3 or 4. This was about 1990, 1991. From about 10 o’clock on to about 5 you could to flip through the channels and just manage to watch game shows (and The People’s Court) pretty much all morning.
It started and it just kind of stuck. I guess it’s the pretty lights and the repetition of music, and the pretty lights. Mostly lights, I think, is really the main thing.
WHALE: It wasn’t the clever games that hooked you?
C: What 4 year old understands what game show cleverness?
W: A smart one?
C: Oh yes, as a 4 year old I was absolutely enamored with Nipsey Russell’s clever wordplay… That’s not true. No, I think as a child I understood, “Hey, these people are very happy and they’re playing a game and winning things.” That really spoke to me. As I grew up I started to understand the technical aspects of it, the psychological aspects of it, and now I’m the freak that stands before you today.
(2) If you could have any game show host’s job, whose would it be?
C: First instinct would be Drew Carey’s job, hosting The Price is Right just so that someone can do it the way they’re supposed to. (long bought of laughter)
That’s a really good question, because… The thing is that, that’s like saying… I could pick someone like Bill Cullen and just host every game show ever and that would take care of most things. Or I could say someone like Alex Trebek, who has one of the greatest game shows of all time. Just do that for 150 years. I don’t know if I can give an answer to that, unless I can just say all of them. Every game show host.
“I don’t know if I can give an answer to that, unless I can just say all of them. Every game show host.”
(3) What’s your favorite moment in game show history?
C: The moment where I won money on a game show.
W: Tell us the story.
In high school, I heard that Wheel of Fortune was coming to Philadelphia, my home town. And as a person who both loves game shows and knows how to spell, I was very interested in getting on this program because you can get money for spelling. And I can’t get that now. I couldn’t get it then, either… But more so now.
So I signed up; they had a “Teen Best Friends” week, and you got to partner up with your best friend and get on the show together. My best friend was not allowed to come to the audition with me because his parents were shortsighted gits. And my second best friend (I’m going down the list of people who I would consider my best friend in decreasing bestness) had a baby shower, my third best friend was working, so I settled on my fourth best friend. Just so happened that he was first on the list who was a minority, so two Asian kids, one of them Filipino dark Asian, we’re going to get on TV, just to meet the ethnicity quotient that I’m sure all these shows have.
So we got a call back to go to an audition in downtown Philadelphia. The written test was basically to fill in puzzles that were in various states of incompletion. They picked us because we weren’t stupid, and then we moved to a mock game of Wheel of Fortune where we competed against other people in what was basically a dry erase Wheel of Fortune board. And we had personality, and we were eventually selected. The show’s on YouTube, and you can follow this link to go watch that.
We got on the show, and I will say this: I don’t regret anything that happened. I do regret that someone in the production of Wheel of Fortune, years before we were even on the show, said, “Hey, Let’s award a team or a player an extra prize just for solving a puzzle and have that add to their bonus, to their final total, thereby making it possibly the most essential puzzle of the game for no goddamn reason.” That’s why we lost. We never hit a bankrupt and we never bought a vowel. We were solid.
But yeah, I won enough money for myself to buy a car and a laptop, so, happiest moment for me!
(4) Tell us about the 24-Hour Game Show Marathon
The 24 hour game show marathon is inspired by a British thing; generally anything good in America is inspired by something British, including America itself.
So the inspiration comes from what was called “24 hour Panel People” where comedian David Walliams of Little Britain fame, he stayed up for 24 hours and did as many quiz and panel shows as he could. He managed to do 19 games in 24 hours, and he raised a bunch of money for comic relief, which is fantastic.
I was talking with my friend Christian one day. (Christian is my cohost and a good friend of mine.) I said, “It sounds like something you would do at your radio station.” He was a college radio DJ and manager there, in New Haven, CT. We just started talking, and eventually we were like, “You know what? Let’s do it!” So we coordinated with their local chapter of the American Cancer Society Relay for Life, and in New Haven, CT last April we did 24 game shows in 24 hours and we raised over $1200 for the ACS, which is fantastic.
“In New Haven, CT last April we did 24 game shows in 24 hours and we raised over $1200 for the ACS.”
This year, we’re doing things bigger and better than ever. First, we’re doing it here in Baltimore, so I don’t have to drive 6 hours. (I don’t like driving that much anymore.) So they’re going to drive down here, we have a small studio space. Last year, everything was kind of done as a radio production and we just had a laptop with a webcam livestreaming things. This year, we’re really trying to make things professional-ish. Currently, where I’m sitting, I’m covered in wires and mixers (and a portable Super Nintendo, which is unrelated, but I just like to mention that any chance I get). So yeah, we’re really pumping up everything. We have celebrity guests that will be joining us.
We have 25 games that we’re doing in 24 hours, we’ve got 2 outstanding charities.
Exclusive Show Fact: One of the game shows that we’re running is a British import called the Chase. Basically, 4 regular schmoes go up against a giant quiz brain and they try to defeat them in a one-on-one quiz. Well our giant quiz brain is Jeopardy champion and multi-millionaire Ken Jennings.
As with last year, we were going to give money to your American Cancer Society, but we’re also going to raise money for the Kennedy Krieger Institute which is a hospital here in Baltimore that helps children with neurological diseases and autism, in all aspects of their life. Diagnosis, therapy, education. They have schools and physical therapies there and we are raising money specifically for their autism department.
(5) What other projects do you have coming up that we should look out for?
There’s a lot of good things that I may or may not be coming up with in the future. First and foremost, once we’re done planning this and performing it, we’re probably going to try to plan next year’s, which will be even bigger and better than ever. And bigger than a small studio in Baltimore is probably going to be a large studio… Somewhere else. We’ll figure that out, and that will be for next year.
I also have a couple independent projects in the game show realm, including Shuffle, which is Name That Tune for a new generation. Potentially soon, another British import that I’m working on is called Drink Down. It is one of Britain’s most boring game shows, infused with liquor to make it slightly more interesting for all involved. Both of those are coming down the horizon very slowly.
Any Parting Words?
If you want to donate, you can go to gofundme.com/24hrgsm and there’s still t-shirts and giant decks of cards, and custom Price is Right come-on-down ringtones from former Price if Right live announcer Dave Walls, still up for grabs.
If you’d just like to watch and mooch off our kindness, you can go to the website and watch the thing on Saturday May 18th, 2013.