That’s our Bob

From today’s AP wire:

During his run as a “Jeopardy!” contestant, Bob Harris learned that John Quincy Adams was the only president to later serve in the U.S. House of Representatives, that Lord Peter Wimsey is a fictional British sleuth and that mollusks include chitons, cowries and limpets.

But Harris’ game-show education also taught him that keeping your eye on the prize is what counts, and he’s not talking bundles of cash or a shiny new car — although he won both.

“People look at quiz shows and see the money and being on TV. Those are things that are very attractive and seem like the prizes. They’re not,” Harris said.

“Every single player I’ve spoken to has ultimately said that what they value is not the money but the memory. What they value is not how they played but who they met.”

Harris, who ascended to a $1 million Masters Tournament on the game show hosted by Alex Trebek, details his experiences in “Prisoner of Trebekistan: A Decade in Jeopardy!”, a book that is a combination of how-to primer, autobiography and musings on life and love.

Like “Jeopardy!” itself, it covers a lot of ground and in snappy and informative fashion.

Harris, 42, is a comedian, screenwriter, radio commentator and, in conversation, a man possessed of an easy wit (“At the top of my resume it should probably say `picaresque ne’er-do-well.’ Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of people hiring”).

The book is by turns serious and self-deprecating, touching and flip, but it doesn’t shortchange those looking for guidance on how to succeed at the trivia game show that was concocted by Merv Griffin in the 1960s and became a television staple.

For the uninitiated, “Jeopardy!” tests players’ knowledge in a variety of categories by presenting an answer and then giving each contestant a chance to quickly ring in with the appropriate question. It’s the game show that snobs can admit to watching.

“The purpose of the book, in any large way, is to walk the reader in the front door of `Jeopardy!’ and my 30s with the same questions I had: What’s big money like? How do I work this buzzer? What’s it like to be on TV?” Harris said in an interview.

“And by the end of the book I want readers to walk out the far door of `Jeopardy!’ and my 30s with the same question I wound up with myself, which is, `God, how is it possible that the world is filled with all this wonderful stuff and I never saw it before?'”