Finally! Someone steps forward to blow the lid off the hidden underworld of Jeopardy! fanatics. In this intimate, often hilarious solo performance, computer programmer and Alex Trebek worshipper Scott Hermes traces his growing addiction to nerdish tests of brain power, from a small-time quiz show in Schenectady through seven-tile, triple-word-score Scrabble gambits and on to his plan to escape a dauntingly real reality by becoming a contestant on the greatest game show of all time. From there it's a journey into the glowing belly of the beast. Hermes recounts the application process; the rigors of preparation under the tutelage of his unwitting guru, 1996 Tournament of Champions winner Michael Dupee; and the ultimate enigma of his appearance on the show. Part of the "Fillet of Solo Festival," the piece is funny because Hermes possesses a clear sense of both the allure and foolishness of his mission. It's touching because he understands the deep dreaminess, even otherworldliness, that leads a man to make a Jeopardy!-style answer clicker out of a Sharpie and a ballpoint pen. 8/19-8/20: Fri-Sat 9 PM. Live Bait Theater, 3914 N. Clark, 773-871-1212. $10.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/courtesy Live Bait Theater.