Image credit: Diana Ragland
We chatted with legendary Jeopardy! contestant Brad Rutter about The Chase on ABC. Brad is undefeated five-time champion and the winner of the 2001 Tournament of Champions, The Million Dollar Masters, The Ultimate Tournament of Champions, The Battle of the Decades Tournament, and last year’s All-Star Games.
The Chase is a heart-racing quiz show where three competitors must pit their wits and face off against the Chaser, a ruthless quiz genius determined to stop them from winning cash prizes. Each hourlong episode is a fast-paced battle of brainpower, where contestants are challenged to think faster than they ever thought possible to answer up to 166 questions across all topics.
Check out our conversation with Brad below.
How did you get involved with Jeopardy! in the early days?
Brad Rutter (BR): My parents grew up watching the old Art Fleming version in the 60s, so when it came back with Alex when I was a kid, we would watch every night. I’ve always enjoyed knowing stuff, and by the time I was in high school I found myself knowing most of the responses, so I figured I should probably try out for the show at some point.
What can you tell us about ABC’s The Chase?
BR: It’s a fast-paced quiz show where three amateur trivia players team up to take on one of the professionals – the Chaser, who is either me, Ken Jennings, James Holzhauer, or Mark Labbett. If they manage to outrun us in the hour-long trivia chase, they take home a lot of money, but if they get caught, they leave with no money and some bruised pride.
What was it like being part of The Chase?
BR: It’s a ton of fun. Our host, Sara Haines, developed a really great rapport with all of the Chasers, which keeps things light and funny, but the competition is still intense. Maybe my favorite part of the show is the Chaser Lounge, where the Chasers who aren’t playing that evening comment on the proceedings like Statler and Waldorf on the old Muppet Show and basically just make fun of each other.
What is something you can tell us about Jeopardy! that people may not
BR: I’m amazed that people still don’t know this, but I do get a lot of questions about it: Jeopardy! tapes five shows a day, two days a week, which means that if you watch from Monday through Friday, all those shows were shot the same day. The champion just changes clothes in between shows, so it’s not like a long-running champion has to move to LA for months at a time.
In your opinion, why are game shows so popular?
BR: They’re the original interactive TV–just about everyone plays along at home. Also, Jeopardy in particular has a really broad cross-generational appeal. People tell me all the time that they watch with their grandparents, and like I mentioned, I grew up watching with my parents, so it’s really a family experience.
What is the coolest thing you can tell us about your experience on Jeopardy!?
BR: The coolest part for me was just getting to know Alex Trebek over the years. I really only ever hung out with him on the set, but he was such the consummate professional while still not taking himself too seriously. Jeopardy was his life’s work, and he really cared about the show and always wanted it to be the best it could be. You could really tell that part of what kept him going in his cancer battle was hosting the show every night, and I feel really blessed to have spent a good amount of time with him before he passed.
The Chase airs on ABC Wednesdays at 10/9c and can also be steamed on Hulu.
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