Are you bursting with facts and figures? Known for knowing the unknowable? Love finding obscure trivia? Then a "Jeopardy!" clue writer might be your dream job and Billy Wisse has it.
Wisse started working at "Jeopardy!" a quarter of a century ago and has served as its head writer since 2011.
The team is surprisingly small when you consider they write 230 shows a year, with only eight writers and eight researchers. On taping days the team produces five shows a day, that includes about three hours of preparation, taping three shows, breaking for lunch, and then taping two more shows.
One of the biggest challenges for the "Jeopardy!" writers is not making clues too difficult. The contestants need to have a shot at getting it right and the home audience must be able to relate, as well. "Jeopardy!" has about 25 million viewers each week. Clues that are too easy must be avoided, too. That's where the finesse comes in.
"You have to figure out ways to write extremely difficult categories that help people realize they actually do have some knowledge of it deep down in their brains," Wisse said.
One of the masters of that skill… Who is Alex Trebek? That's right. "Jeopardy!" 's host since 1984 has a special gift when it comes to tweaking clues to make them clearer. And you might be surprised to learn that occasionally the writers do have to look up foreign pronunciations for Trebek—despite how smoothly he delivers them on air.
Ultimately, Wisse is responsible for smoothing the language. One of the perks of being the head writer is that he also gets to rank the difficulty of the five questions in each category. So, if you think a $2,000 question is too easy, take it up with him.