No 98: Dying of boredom while someone explains their answer

Gameshows. The staple of television channels, alongside cookery shows, home make-overs and reality shows. When I was younger I’m fairly sure the game show went along the following format.

1) The host would introduce the show and tell a contrived story about how something happened to them once. Everyone would laugh and applaud and then the contestants would be revealed.

2) The contestants are introduced, one by one. You find out what their name is, where they live and how old they are. You tend to find if they’re married, have kids and where they work as well. If you’re incredibly lucky you get to hear a story about how, once, when they were little a relative tricked them into believing Narnia was real and they spent several hours locked in a wardrobe before being released by a parent. For example.

3) The game begins. Round one, or whatever it is called, starts. A question is asked, an answer is given, and they move onto to the next question.

4) This process is repeated until the end of the game. Then there’s an big end game which is a lot like the main game but bigger or done in subdued lighting conditions.

5) A hilarious out-tro and a “same time next week” before the credits roll.

Nowadays though, the gameshow format has changed. It’s no longer that straight forward. Now we have things like Deal Or No Deal which is, essentially, a giant guessing game. The problem with “Deal” as its fans like to call it, is the way it’s portrayed. The contestants are often praised for playing a strategic game. I don’t know a lot about strategy but I know that picking random boxes which have already been chosen at random in order to elimate the small money from a game board is not a strategy. It’s guess work. No amount of shrewd deals and over-enthusiastic studio wooping are going to change the fact that Deal or No Deal is just a massive game of “try and pick a box that’s not crap”. It’s just luck. You’re not being strategic.

I recently watched the BBC’s latest offering, 101 Ways To Leave A Gameshow, which runs for 8 episodes and has something like 5 or 6 different exits from the show. So that’s 48 ways to leave a gameshow at best. And it’s not really different ways either, as most of them involve falling. So it’s one way to leave a gameshow – gravity – spiced up with a variety of different ways of introducing gravity into the mix – giant hammers, a bike ride into nothingness, a rather awesome plank that gives way and drops you straight down. If it was really 101 ways to leave a gameshow I’d be looking at dissolving in acid, eaten by ants and burnt alive as three of the suggestions. You can even combine them with the tried and tested gravity method as well if you wanted to, Mr BBC.

101 Ways, however, served to reinforce the thing I hate about gameshows nowadays. In days gone by, as detailed above, you were asked a question and expected to give an answer. Now, however, you have to explain why you’ve chosen the answer. And no-one ever says “because it’s the right answer”. They always make it sound like they’ve put a huge amount of deductive reasoning into the selection of an answer – yes, selection, because nowadays everything’s bloody multiple choice to give people a chance at guessing the right answer. You usually get something along the lines of “I’ve heard of so-and-so, but I’ve not heard of doodah” or “well, so-and-so is a name you associate with whatever the question is about and doodah isn’t someone you’d automatically think of in this case and because my cat’s also called so-and-so”. Just once I want someone to say “I’ve chosen that answer because it’s the right answer. No stop insulting my intelligence and get on with it.”

And then there’s Eggheads. Eggheads. A quiz show with a group of super-intelligent people on it. Including Judith Kepple, the first person to win £1,000,000 on Who Wants To Be  A Millionaire. I don’t think that qualifies as being a qualification for genius.

And yes, that is my final answer.

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The Hilarity Chinchilla

“Can I take your name?”
“Certainly, it’s Jacob.”
“And, do you have a surname?”

Do I have a surname? That’s what I was asked today. Not “can I take your surname” or even “what is your surname”. No, I get “do you have a surname?” Who am I? Madonna, or something? Yes I have a surname. Most normal people have a surname. It helps to identify them when they’re amongst other people with the same name, although in my case I’m fairly safe. I have never been anywhere and said “Hi, my name’s Jacob Chinchen…” and been asked to provide any further details. There has never been two Jacob Chinchens in the same place. Ever. Probably just as well.

Recently we got a phone call at home and, against the odds, we answered it. It was some kind of tele-sales thing. The girl on the end of the phone asked if I was Mr Shaw. I’m not Mr Shaw. Carole is Miss Shaw, by living with her I am not automatically Mr Shaw. That’s just not the way it works. Mr Shaw is Carole’s dad, plain and simple. I said I wasn’t Mr Shaw. The girl on the phone then told me, not asked me, told me to go and get him. I wanted to say “I could go and get him but it’ll take me a while to walk to their house, and that’s assuming that he’s in and can come down and talk to you on the phone. Either way you’ll be waiting quite some time.” I didn’t say that. I said “No. There’s no Mr Shaw here.” She hung up there and then. She didn’t say who she was or where she was calling from. She left no details whatsoever. I secretly hope she rings back so I can use the pre-planned comeback on her. I suspect she won’t.

So, my surname is Chinchen. This generally gets a lot of quizical looks and stares and, over the phone especially, sarcastic questions relating to whether I’m Chinese or not. I’m not, since you ask, and I really didn’t expect that question. Most people are, understandibly enough, curious as to the origin of my name. I generally answer “I got it from my dad” but apparently more information is needed. When I was little, the origins of my name went something like this,

Basically my ancestors were Chinese people who came across to work in the treacle mines of Dorset, harvesting the rich treacle seams for the sugary goodness. As with all things, during the down time in between treacle shifts, my ancestors took solace in the amenities of the local area and formed relations with the locals and lo, the Chinchen bloodline was established in the UK.

If I’m honest I have researched the origins of my name. I figure I’ll wait until I’m famous and then get the BBC to pay for it with “Who Do You Think You Are” and I can pretend to look upset when I’m not descended from a treacle miner. I know there are a lot of Chinchens in and around Swanage. I know that periodically a Chinchen will appear out of the gloom and try and befriend me on Facebook or something. I don’t necessarily want to be friends with someone who literally just has the same last name as me. That’s quite a weak basis for a social networking site to build a relationship on. These random Chinchens have usually tried to befriend my sister as well – hoping to bag the elusive double Chinchen that all great collectors aspire to but sadly none will have (apart from the people who are our mutual Facebook chums – although there’s a fairly safe bet we went to school with them).

The other thing I like about my name is that it’s not even as bad as it could have been. My parents will, on occasion, just throw into conversation the fact that they were seriously considering calling me Mordici. Mordici for christ-sakes. If ever there was a name to instill the need to beat a child up in a playground I think it would be Mordici Chinchen.

And recently I appear to have acquired a couple of new nicknames – and ones I actually approve of, for once. I tend to get called Jake a lot. I like Jake. It must never, ever, ever stray into the territory of Jakey-Wakey as it makes me sound like the fifth Teletubby or something, although a couple of people have dared to cross this line. I’ve recently, courtesy of the very lovely Hayley Ellis (check out her link, go see her, she funny lady), acquired Chinchilla as a nickname. I’m usually averse to this sort of thing but it seems to be sticking and I don’t appear to be able to disuade her from it so I’m just kind of rolling with it. When describing her radio show the other day she said “it’s hilarity chinchilla” which, frankly, is a nickname I could live with. The Hilarity Chinchilla. It’s catchy. I might rename everything.

My other new name is a lot more street. More ghetto. More hanging with my homies. J.Chin, as I was referred to on Facebook today, makes me sound like a rapper or something. I’m totally fly. I’m dizzling my shizzle, you nizzle. That’s how I roll. I’m like Snoop Dogg but, you know, more respectful to women, less violent and I don’t spend a lot of my time sleeping on top of my kennel.

Sorry… no, wait. That was Snoopy.