Are we headed to Hotlanta this summer?

So I teased you last Saturday with a promise that I'd let you know how my Family Feud tryout went, so I suppose that I shouldn’t make you wait another month or two for me to get around to it.

I’d tell you my Family Feud history, but as the guy with the microphone said on Saturday (I am loathe to call him a host) “Family Feud has been around for 35 years, don’t waste time telling how much you or your family have enjoyed it”. So I won’t tell you. You can formulate that opinion on your own, with the understanding that I am dying to tell you.

I, with (Sponsor’s Name Here)’s Official Daughter, Gooey, in tow, arrive at the Paper Valley Hotel in Appleton in plenty of time to meet up with my first cousins Emeril (and her daughters Squirrel and Help) and Droopy Drawers (and her son Prince Harry the Gravedigger).   Although Gooey is only there to cheer us on, the contestant search allows teams to bring six members to the tryout and, if selected, the producers of the show will cut one.

We get a clipboard full of paperwork and get ushered into one of the ballrooms. In addition to our name / address / phone number, they want to know something unique about us, or a special talent we have. This is the first part of the day that gets the ladies into fits. They assign something to me (my bowling, which I would have come up with anyway) but all struggle to pigeonhole themselves with something equally as fulfilling.

We get that form completed and move to the next page, which is our “line-up”. It didn’t take me long to put on my pants and assert the captaincy… if for no other reason than that the producers might find it hard to cut the adoring, patient, charming, brilliant, gentle and everworthy captain. Squirrel wants to be second (more TV time, I think). Not sure how the other four got slotted, but it was in clockwise order of how they were seated around me while we filled out the form (Emeril third, Help fourth, Droopy Drawers fifth and Prince Harry the Gravedigger sixth).

The last form that I recall was some stupid essay that will likely make-or-break our team’s fortune far more than the bright, bouncy captain or some brilliant game play. The way the guy with the microphone described it, this season the producers are looking for families with stories or themes or unique ways to spend any winnings, etc. I can see it now… every show will have a special family that recites “Little Jimmy’s dying wish was to have us win $25,000 on the Family Feud and donate it all to charity”. Our eminently rejectable essay was about “A family that plays together, stays together”. Bet they’ve never heard THAT one before.

My guesstimate is that there were 40-50 families in our room. They had at least one other room testing concurrently, and they also had tryouts that morning. So our chances of being the one or two teams out of 200 are…? Right. That’s my thought, and we hadn’t even started yet.

The guy gets back on the microphone and gets things going by explaining how the tryout will go, and that they are looking for energy and enthusiasm and more energy, more than they are looking for good game play. He mentions to yell “Good Answer” despite how lousy an answer might be, and after huddling to try to steal, just keep yelling answers (shows enthusiasm) even if they had previously been revealed.

After all of that, I sit back and wait (DMV style, as always seems to be the way these things go). Much to our surprise, we were one of the first two families called, and got to be the first group that everybody else got to watch.

We take our spots, and smoothly go through the introductions of my team and with the bell in front of me, we get our first question “Name a dish that begins with ‘potato’.” The other captain rings in with “Potato Pie”. The guy with the microphone (who must really believe this “don’t worry about game play” line) says that pie is like cake, and Potato Cake was on the board, like #3 or something, so I have a chance to win the toss-up. I was going to say Potato Pancake, but was told that was like cake, so I quickly whipped up “Potato Chips”. That was #5 so the other team played and we huddled up to steal.

In our huddle, the first thing out of my mouth is “What the hell is a Potato Pie, and how can more people say that than Potato Chip?” Emeril tells me to forget about it and we do throw out other ideas and hear the other team rattle them off until we got to two that weren’t called. The two choices we came up with were Potato Skins or Potato Wedges. I like to eat potato skins, loaded with cheese, onion, sour cream, bacon bits… I had to assume that 100 people that had a clipboard shoved in their faces while at the mall looking for the tattoo parlor would, too.

The other team gets the third strike and we are called from the huddle. Instead of shouting answers rapid-fire, I hear in unison “Potato Skins” followed by a meek “I like Potato Wedges” from Droopy Drawers. “Sigh”, thinks I, fearing that if the ‘Family that plays together, stays together’ didn’t sink us, that just might. I answer “Potato Skins”, it is on the board, and we win the first round.

Squirrel is up next with the bell, and the guy with the microphone starts “Give a middle…” and the other team rings in, but has no answer. The question continued “name that follows ‘Billy’.” Squirrel answers “Billy Jim” and the very gracious guy with the microphone says that James is on the board, and we win the question.

Emeril comes up with “Joe” and it is on the board. Help says “Joel”, which is odd, because I didn’t hear the question as “Name a singer that sang ‘Piano Man’.” Our first strike. Droopy Drawers says “Sue”, and I was surprised that it was not up there. Strike two. Prince Harry the Gravedigger comes up with “Bob” which was there. Back to the captain.

Two things come to mind... Billie Jean (Side note; Who is not my lover) and Billy Jack. I am confident that both would be up there. But with Squirrel coming up with “Billy Jim” earlier, I figure that I’d leave the slam dunk for her and I say “Jack”. It is up there, and Squirrel says (wait for it)









And silence. Not a “Good Answer! Good Answer!” to be had. I say, “I like that name” to break the sound of crickets chirping. Strike three. The other team instantly answers “Jean”, and just like that, the audition was over.

The seven of us go down the block for a drink and dinner, still surging with adrenaline. We all agree that this was way cool, and that we have as good a shot as anybody to get a trip to Atlanta this summer. And if that postcard to Emeril never comes, we’ve still got Billy Jim and Billy Michael for family get togethers in perpetuity.    

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