- Alma School District
This is Jeopardy!
By Kevin Taylor
Lance St. Laurent peered out of his Madison, Wis. window this week as temperatures hovered close to 5 degrees.
“It was actually minus-five this morning,” he said.
St. Laurent hit the academic lottery earlier this year when he was chosen to compete on the popular television game show Jeopardy.
His episode is scheduled to appear on KSFM Ch. 5 Friday at 4:30 p.m.
2009 Alma grad Lance St. Laurent.
“I’ve always been a big trivia guy,” he said from his Madison apartment. “I was on the Quiz Bowl team back in high school.”
A 2009 Alma High School graduate, where he was crowned valedictorian, St. Laurent said he’s aspired to be a Jeopardy contestant for as long as he can remember. The 29-year-old Alma native, who turns 30 in June, said he didn’t have to wait long after being put in the “contestant pool.”
“I took an online test with 50 questions,” St. Laurent said. “If you pass that, you'll go through a second audition. That used to be in person, but with COVID, it's not. If you pass that, you can be in the contestant pool for up to 18 months. There are so many people in the pool, some never make it to Jeopardy.
"I've been trying to get on the show for years. It’s a difficult process but anybody can do it.”
St. Laurent said he got the nod a few weeks after legendary host Alex Trebek passed.
“I got my call a couple of weeks after Trebek passed away,” he said. “(Ken) Jennings was wonderful. He was a very good host and in good spirits.”
St. Laurent said he flew from Madison to Los Angeles a couple of days ahead of the scheduled shoot and stayed over “a few days afterward.”
“I had to take two COVID tests,” he said.
A Ph.D. film student at the prestigious University of Wisconsin-Madison, St. Laurent spent a whole day on the Jeopardy set. As it turned out, being the last show of the week to be filmed, he was able to strategically lock-in.
“I got there at 7:30 a.m. and was there until about 5 p.m.,” he said. “They film a whole week’s worth of shows in a single day. I had to watch every other show, which helped with the nerves and strategizing. Obviously, you can imagine that the show has a lot of strategies.”
He said they (Jeopardy officials) want “the show to be competitive.”
“In the commercial breaks, they’ll give you pointers, usually about buzzing in,” St. Laurent said. “Almost everybody there knows the questions and answers, and it becomes a game of the buzzer beaters, reflexes, and knowing when to jump in.”
St. Laurent said he loved the experience.
“I’m a lover of attention and a public showoff,” he said. “I had no issues performing. It’s very satisfying.”
St. Laurent, whose half-brother, Nicholas Garner, is a junior at AHS, said the Jeopardy set is magnificent.
“Because of COVID, you couldn’t be in the green room, so they put on the Wheel of Fortune set next door,” he said. “The Jeopardy set is what you think it should be; it’s a huge beautiful set.
“The Wheel of Fortune really isn’t that special.”
After graduating from AHS in 2009, St. Laurent spent four years at Hendrix College. “I studied film there,” he said.
From there, St. Laurent moved to Los Angeles for two years to get his master's at USC. “I loved it,” he said. “I spent a couple of years after that in Chicago that, before getting accepted into film school in Madison. Madison has one of the best film study programs and I was lucky enough that they took me in.
“Life is a long strange journey.”
St. Laurent said he holds his Alma memories close to his heart.
“AHS is a great place to go to school,” he said. “I have a lot of fond memories in my academics. Mrs. (Melissa) Sweeney, Erin Mills, and the dearly departed T-Mac (Toney McMurray) were great teachers.”
St. Laurent said he plans to teach film after earning his latest degree.
“My hope is to stay in the realm of teaching and academics,” he said. “My strengths are really on the academic side of things.”
Lance St. Laurent, a 2009 Alma High School graduate, will appear on the long-running television show Jeopardy this Friday at 4:30 p.m. on KSFM Ch. 5.