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Game show fever

Observer Viewpoint | Monday, September 11, 2006

Nothing says America like the televised image of an over-caffeinated, overweight, underdressed, middle-aged housewife prancing around like a sugar plum fairy on coke because she won a new toaster oven for knowing the 11 most popular hot dog condiments at Wrigley Field. For that matter, neither does the sound of an enraged grandfather blowing out steam that had been building up in his emphysematic lungs since the Great Depression because the unfortunate positioning of a plastic wheel resulted in the loss of his $200 and a trip for two to Boca Raton.

In America, game shows are so much more than mindless entertainment – they are a way of life.

Just ask Notre Dame senior Dan Keough.

Inspired by his high school teachers in Chattanooga, Tennessee – many of whom based their careers on the “those that can’t do … teach” philosophy of life – Dan had a moment of existential awakening after a night of heavy drinking this summer in New York City.

Like the great poet Robert Frost, he decided to take the road less traveled and define his life by a new shibboleth: “Those that can’t get a paid internship … make money on game shows.” If only he could have grasped at the time that, like Gautama before him, his enlightenment would lead him down a path of intense mental anguish and physical hardship that would alter the very core of his being.

With this new sense of direction to his previously wayward and vagabond lifestyle, Dan took the bold and Moses-like step of parting through the Red Sea of game show applications available on the Sinai of information that is the Internet. After he climbed that digital mountain of binary code, the divine voice of Meredith Vieira came to him and asked the fateful question: Who wants to be a millionaire? The rest, as they say, is history.

Dan quickly learned that his rare combination of Scott Weiland-like intelligence, Carson Daly-like personality, and William H. Macy-like good looks was just what it took to hurtle him through the testing and interview process and land him a guaranteed spot on the show later that summer.

Whereas most human beings would have greeted this news with a celebratory glass of Scotch and several weeks of preparatory relaxation, Dan proved once and for all that his Creator didn’t endow him with a hulking 6-foot-6 frame so that he could waste away in Margaritaville. Nay, Dan lifted high the metaphorical cross of game-showmanship and began a mental workout regimen that made Yoda’s training of Luke Skywalker on Dagobah seem like a kindergarten gym class.

Day in and day out for the rest of the summer, Dan did nothing but eat, sleep, and breathe “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” Thanks to the wonders of Comcast, DVR, and the Game Show Network, he was able to take on the role of a depressed housewife and binge on three episodes every morning. Afternoons, following a careful sequence of sit-ups, squat thrusts, and jumping jacks, he would play the “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” board game against himself, since no other mortal could have possibly challenged his superior intellect in such a venue. Evenings and weekends, he created a “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” drinking game, although the only libations worthy of touching his divine lips were, of course, ambrosia and Sparks.

After many weeks of tireless dedication and agonizing cranial stimulation, Dan reached a plateau of supernatural understanding and universal harmony that rivaled Rocky Balboa’s elated Riverdance up the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum at the culmination of his training. Like a mouthwatering Taco Bell Crunch Wrap Supreme, Dan truly was good to go.

For contractual reasons, what followed when he finally went head to head with Meredith Vieira in her chamber of death cannot be expressed in this forum. Also, like staring directly into the sun or hearing the spoken word of God, reading about Dan’s “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” performance would certainly cause an instantaneous physical handicap to all who gaze upon this newspaper. The lawsuits that this would prompt would most likely bring about the demise of The Observer, thereby forcing all Notre Dame students to read the Irish Rover on a daily basis. And that, my friends, sounds about as fun as a kick in the crotch with a steel-toed boot.

So instead, like Yahweh on the first seventh day in the history of time, simply remember to rest from your typically chaotic lifestyle and tune in to watch Dan’s “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” appearance next Monday, Sept. 18, at 12:30 p.m. on ABC. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll sing, you’ll dance; you might even fall madly in love with Dan’s Covergirl smile or his new gross earnings potential. Just check out the show yourself and cheer on a true loyal son of Notre Dame.

After all, in the words of Lavar “Butterfly in the Sky” Burton, “You don’t have to take my word for it.”

Joey Falco is a senior American Studies major and Journalism, Ethics, and Democracy minor. He can be reached at [email protected]

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.