How do television game shows and growing up gay in the '90s relate? How does this all play out with the gay Jeopardy snap heard around the world? Does having a busy brain help us forget all the other little things? And how does the quote "This is somebody I want to show the movie 'Clue' to" relate to you?
Matt Baume talks to Louis Virtel in an interview entitled "I Embrace Being High-Strung." Through the interview, I feel that Louis and I would have been best friends if not more. He loves Paula Poundstone, I'm sold! Many of us know him from the Jeopardy snap, but after this, we get to know him a great deal more.
"For trivia people, Jeopardy! is The Hajj," Louis Virtel says on this week's episode of The Sewers of Paris. "You don't know what The Hajj has in store for you, but you have to make it once in your lifetime."
Louis' infamous snap, captured and deployed in countless GIFs since he appeared on Jeopardy!, happened in the spur of the moment. But in the lead up to his appearance, he was one big bundle of nerves.
"There was a week when I read every Jeopardy! board in existence," he said. Some categories of information, like economics of football trophies, presented a challenge. "But then you look up the movies of Sandy Dennis and do a little backflip."
In the midst of cramming, he had to take a step back just to relax. "Louis," he told himself, "you better enjoy this while it lasts, because you're going to be on Jeopardy! and then it will be over. Eat up this excitement while you have it."
Appearing on the show was more than a lifelong dream — for Louis, it approached something like a religious vision.
The earliest childhood photographs of Louis feature him rapt with attention before the spinning Wheel of Fortune, and his family were all trivia buffs growing up. "When I think about my childhood and playing games with people, that's when I was happiest," he said. "It was cooperative and social, but you weren't just talking to each other. You were learning about the other people from how they played."
At school, he shunned all computer games not based on game shows. Even as a kid, he was a master of memory and accessing arcane knowledge. "It's so cool to trust yourself in front of other people," he said. "It feels like a superpower when you memorize something that nobody else knows."
His appearance on the show was possibly the most stressful day of his life. During rehearsal, "there was a woman she beat me on the buzzer like three times in a row," he recalled. "As somebody who grew up playing video games, that was pretty grim. Why is this woman who is like my mom's age destroying me on this thing where I feel genetically programmed to operate a button better than she does? It was pretty tough at first."
Then the show taped, the snap happened, and the rest was history. He didn't realize at first that he'd done something that would become meaningful to millions. But as soon as the episode aired, Louis noticed that people began to treat him differently than they had when he was best-known for his YouTube series, Verbal Voguing.
"Because of Verbal Voguing, I'd have people come up to me in a bar, like, 'you're funny.' After the Jeopardy! snap, some guy came up to me and put his hand on my shoulder and said, 'thank you.'" – mattbaume.com
Hear more of the interview where Louis talks about gay pride, male television idols of the past, gays on television, how he came out, an Internship at The Advocate, Tim Gunn, and him growing up being immersed in television game shows while growing up in the suburbs of Chicago. Girls in plaid pants? I also like his description of what the church meant to him, that comfort.
Here is the full interview.
If that does not work, head on over to MattBaume.com and listen to the interview as well as read more of Matt Baume's thoughts on Louis.
Do you relate to Louis?
If you want to hear more from him, click on over to his YouTube page, Verbal Vogueing.