Featured photo: Lawrence “Skip” Long on an episode of “Jeopardy!” on Feb. 7, 2022. (photo by Jeopardy Productions, Inc)

Lawrence “Skip” Long is a modern-day renaissance man who hails from East Bend, NC, just north of Winston-Salem. His varied background makes him a prime contestant on the popular show “Jeopardy!” this week. Tune in Tuesday as he tries to remain the reigning champion after Monday’s win. Long says he will donate to Love Out Loud, the organization working to help those displaced and affected by the fertilizer plant fire in Winston-Salem.

Congrats on making it onto “Jeopardy!” Can you tell us a little about yourself? 

My graduate school work was in actor-created physical theater in a program based on the pedagogy of Jacques Lecoq. My BA is in English from Clemson. After finishing graduate school, I worked in the North Carolina wine industry and then moved to Chicago in 2006 to be closer to a cultural center. In Chicago, I became a sommelier and studied improv at IO and the Annoyance Theatre and comedy writing at Second City. I was a sommelier in a restaurant in Evanston with an extensive wine list.

I spent a year in New Mexico 2009-10, then moved back to North Carolina when my niece was born. I formally retired from restaurants in 2018. I got certified as an EMT in February of 2020.

What was the application process for the show like? Was it your first time?

I’ve watched the show moderately since I was a child. I auditioned once in person in New York City in 2013 and went in the contestant pool. I didn’t really pay much attention to it until the pandemic and I decided to audition again in September of 2020. I got a follow up test in June of 2021 and then a Zoom audition in July/August. I got the call in October.

It’s obvious that you’re pretty knowledgeable in trivia, but once you knew you were going to appear, what did you do to prepare? 

Starting in June I began to prep by doing 300 Final Jeopardy’s a day using J-Archive. It wasn’t until August that I started to log every game and track my progress. I also used extensive Sporcle quizzes and playlists to prepare. I would prepare daily between August and September and then I got the call at the end of October. About two weeks out, I realized that I was lagging behind in vocabulary and wordplay categories. I added the New York Times Crossword into my regimen. Those wordplay categories can be total wildcards within the rounds.

So what now, if you win? Any plans? Longstanding aspirations? 

I owe my niece a trip to Hawaii. I’m finishing up nursing school so this will keep me out of restaurant gigs for the foreseeable future.

Stay-at-home uncle started as a sort of joke to support and undermine my sister’s authority as a parent. I love her, but she used to pull my hair. As the pandemic progressed, it became school proctoring and monitoring for [my niece] while my sister worked. It also entailed day trips to go on adventures and see things. We have taken trips to the Georgia Aquarium to see the whale sharks, we have taken the train to Raleigh, been to the mountains and gone biking. She’s now in sixth grade and I shuttle her around after school between basketball practice and voice lessons.

I will be making a donation to Love Out Loud to coincide with tonight’s appearance. Would love if this exposure got some recognition for the people in need post-evacuation.

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