By Gregory B. Hladky
2:25 PM EDT, September 4, 2013
He once camped out on a Hollywood sidewalk for three days to be first in line. He traveled to New York City seven freakin' times over two years to take tests before he was finally chosen for his next mass-media adventure. His friends think he's crazy, "but not necessarily in a negative way."
His name is Christian Carrion. He's 24, lives in West Haven, and may well be Connecticut's premier Game Show Geek.
Since 2007, Carrion has been a contestant on four different national and cable TV game shows and has just tried out for his fifth.
"I grew up watching game shows with my mom," he says, acknowledging that what began as a simple way to pass the time turned from "a hobby, to a passion, to an obsession."
Carrion is now a senior at Southern Connecticut State University and his major is (surprise, surprise) broadcast journalism.
"My lifelong dream is to be a game-show host," he says, his voice rising with excitement at the very idea. "I just love that energy of being on the air."
His game-show mania began to peak around his 18th birthday. That was when his parents bought him the air fare to Los Angeles so he could attend a taping of "The Price Is Right" just before longtime host Bob Barker was to retire.
That was the time he spent three days on a sidewalk to make sure he was among the first 300 people in line. That's apparently all the show lets in for each taping. Carrion's recollection is that something like 1,500 crazed game-show freaks showed up for that performance, but his fanatical persistence paid off big-time: he was the first person let in.
Which also meant he was the first member of the audience to get a tiny pre-show interview. "I guess it went well," he recalls, "because they called me down right at the start of the show."
It was only the beginning of what Carrion now likes to refer to as his career as a "professional game-show contestant."
The 2007 "Price Is Right" show (it aired that May) was followed by an appearance in 2010 on "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire." But the second time around didn't prove to be that easy.
"I tried for two years to get on that show," he says, explaining that he took the written exam (30 questions) and did the mini-audition interviews seven different times in New York City. They finally called him down to do the show, which he taped in October 2009, and his performance included a few Kung Fu moves that apparently took host Meredith Vieira a bit by surprise.
Carrion had lots of fun, but unfortunately didn't become a millionaire.
His next target was MTV2's "Hip Hop Squares," an updated version of the old "Hollywood Squares." Carrion made his appearance on that show in May 2012. He followed it up with a spot on the Game Show Network's "The Chase," a trivia contest in which teams of three people are pitted against a trivia kingpin named Mark "the Beast" Labbett.
Labbett is a 6-foot-6-inch trivia-champion behemoth who apparently hardly ever loses. Carrion says his team ("I did great; my teammates not so great") was doing fine up until the final round, which Labbett won, and that meant neither Carrion nor the others on his team got any money at all.
"The Chase" was taped on Aug. 13 and hasn't yet been aired.
Carrion says he doesn't really have a strategy for getting picked from all the other fan folks who want to become game-show players. Well, there is that crazed persistence of his.
"The more shows I get on, I kind of like build up a resume," he says, and that may influence the people doing the selections. He says they may simply figure that, if he's done well on another show, he'd do well on theirs.
"My excitement comes naturally," he says of the wild enthusiasm that seems to be a bottom-line requirement for people on these game shows.
Carrion admits that he's gotten plenty of ribbing from friends and acquaintances. "A lot of the time I am 'the Game Show Geek,'" he says. "It's a good thing, I don't mind it."
And Carrion is far from done.
He recently had a tryout for NBC's new "Million Second Quiz" show and believes the audition went well.
"So here's hoping," says Connecticut's top Game Show Geek.
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