You Don’t Know Jack (2001, USA, ABC)

You Don’t Know Jack, made by Californian company Jellyvision, began life as a computerised party trivia quiz game which made the most of the CD-ROM format by being packed with gags, clever questions and smart-arse responses. Currently on it’s sixth volume over in the States, the format has been exported across the world, most popularly in Germany. A British volume, voiced by the comic Paul Kaye as Jack Cake and written by many alumini of the mid 90s comedy scene, came out in the late nineties (it’s rather difficult to find now, but if you find a cheap copy on E-Bay it’s well worth a couple of quid).

After much tweaking and negotiating, the computer game that’s a bit like a TV quiz actually got made into a TV quiz. Hosted by Paul Reubens (of Pee Wee Herman and exposing himself in cinemas fame) as the show’s acerbic host Troy Stevens, it flopped. Fans of the game were pretty harsh on it because it wasn’t exactly like it was on computer (for a start, there’s no way to Screw Your Neighbo(u)r), but that would be pointless anyway because apart from in some rounds you’re penalised for a wrong answer like you would be on the computer game anyway).

But we think it’s time for a re-evaluation. If nothing else, it had some lovely jokes in it, some very cleverly written questions and you know, the game wasn’t that bad – looking through this transcript possibly brings home how not-quick fire it was, but it was bursting with some good ideas.

What follows here is a transcription from the first of the six episodes that were broadcast so you can draw your own conclusions. We can’t be bothered to write [contestant buzzes] after each question, so assume the next person to speak after a question has been read out is the first person to have buzzed. Also, we don’t have the time to go through the graphics and sound effects, look at the alt text on the pictures if you want some explanations. Cookie is the show’s announcer (and also hosted YDKJ vols 3, 4 and Offline).

[INT. The Who Wants To Be a Milliionaire Studio]

REGIS PHILBIN: Our good friends at the phone company are connecting me to another free long distance call…

[INT. Troy Steven’s dressing room]

TROY: [looking at hand mirror] I’m sorry that’s incorrect. I’m SORRY… that’s INCORRECT. I’m sorry that’s INCORRECT. [Phone rings] I’m SORRY… that’s…[picks up phone] hellooo?

[Split shot, Troy on right, Regis on Left]

REGIS: Hi, it’s Regis Philbin!

TROY: Regis? Wow, what am I, somebody’s lifeline?

REGIS: No Paul, I’m just welcoming you to thr wonderful world of gameshows and I’m just calling to pass along a couple of pointers.

TROY: Pointers? Hang on Reege, let me get a pen… [produces a pair of shoes and taps them on the table to represent walking] … got it Reege! Point away!

REGIS: Well, the first thing you should do is smile, smile a lot, everybody loves a guy who smiles…

TROY: Wow, smile, ha ha, next thing you’ll be telling to dress sharp and that clothes make the show!

REGIS: And dress sharp, Paul, clothes make the show.

TROY: OK I will Reege…

REGIS: And another thing, the audience love seeing other guys get rich! The more comfortable you get them, the more likely they’re going to win the big bucks!

TROY: Listen, Reege, you seem really busy! Let me let you run. [Puts phone down]

REGIS: Did the new guy just hang up on me?

TROY: If you think this show is going to make anybody other than ME a millionaire, then You Don’t Know JACK!


COOKIE: It’s the show where high culture and pop culture collide like George W and the English language! Here’s Troy Stevens!

[INT. Studio]

TROY: Thankyou, thankyou…thankyou and good evening! And for those of you at home… [close-up] hello… you look different… have you had some work done? [mid-shot] Tonight! On a very special episode of You Don’t Know Jack, some lucky person will be driving away in this… [set opens to reveal a car] BRAND NEW CAR! That’s my favourite model! I like the car too. We have three contestants tonight, let’s cheat them, I mean let’s meet them, right now. [steps onto a conveyor belt to take him the six feet to his desk].

TROY: Hello contestants, how are you tonight?

[Tonight’s contestants are Alex, Kat and Valdemar which we’ll shorten to Val]

CONTESTANTS: Good, we’re fine.

TROY: Excellent, who asked you. Our first contestant is Mr Valdemar Roth. It seems that you are from Phil-a-delph-ia.

VAL: Yes sir.

TROY: Where is that near?

VAL: New York… it’s in the state of Pennsylvania.

TROY: Pencil… Pennsylvania. Never heard of it. Next we have Kat Harris! You manage a web site for egg donations…

KAT: Yeah.

TROY: How do you like your eggs… over… easy? [hits cymbal crash button on his desk. Oh, he has lots of sound effects buttons to use at various points]. I also know that when you were a child, you only answered to the name Barry Manilow.

KAT: Yes, for a year of my life I was in love with Barry Manilow and wanted to be Barry Manilow so I wouldn’t answer to anything else so my mom had to send me with a note to pre-school asking them to call me… Barry Manilow.

TROY: I love that story! [turns away, close up to camera, mouths “Wow!”] Finally we have Mr Alex [can’t make out the surname]. It tells me here that you are a doctor. Can you tell me if this is infected? [pulls down collar of suit] It also says that you sing opera.

ALEX: I do. Would you like to hear a few bars?

TROY: I would like to see how long you can hold a note.

[Alex sings, the monitor in front of him pretends to smash]

TROY: In response to all your queries yes, this is a real gameshow, yes these are real people and yes, as much as it bothers me, we do give away real money so let’s review yes, yes and YES! In fact, the only thing phony and insincere on this show… [turns to camera, close up] … is me! [Audience applause, women start throwing roses onto the stage, Troy mouths “thankyou”]

TROY: Alright! Here we go for $1,000, Fill In The Blank. [Troy holds up a card showing “__ __ BLANK”] The 1997 movie about a hitman starring John Cusack and Minnie Driver was called blank blank Blank.

KAT: Grosse Pointe Blank!

TROY: Grosse Pointe Blank is correct for $1,000! I am in complete suspense we have a tie for second place! Here is our next question:

In the classic Abbot and Costello routine “Who’s on First”, who’s on third?

  • Who
  • What
  • Where
  • I Don’t Know

When people give correct answers, a congratulatory animation appears on the screens in front or behind them. This is a nice throwback to the computer game, in fact.ALEX: I Don’t Know.

TROY: You don’t know what?

ALEX: I don’t who’s on third.

TROY: Who’s on third that’s correct! Alright, let’s see how fast your puny little brains work as we play… DIS or DAT. I’ll read six facts and for each one I want you to tell me if it’s something about Barney [the dinosaur], something about Satan, or something about both. Get it right win a thousand! Get it wrong lose a thousand. Here we go. Called “the great dragon.”

KAT: Satan.

TROY: Satan is correct! Possessed by a man named David…

VAL: Would that be Barney?

TROY: That would be Barney – correct! Did mall tour in 2000…

KAT: Barney!

TROY: Barney is correct! Usually depicted with a tail…

VAL: Would that be the devil?

TROY: No I’m sorry, that would be both! Anagram of Santa…

KAT: Satan.

On the computer game, Dis or Dat is a solo bonus round for one lucky (or unlucky, on occasion) player. Here it is a straight buzzer quiz.TROY: Satan is correct. In the film “Little Nicky”…

KAT: Satan!

TROY: Satan is correct! [Klaxon] Cookie, tell us the scores!

COOKIE: Kat is in the lead with $5,000, Alex is in second with $1,000… and Valdemar is getting spanked with zero. Troy?

TROY: [walking towards camera] DON’T MOVE A MUSCLE! I’ll be right back with more money and more mirth, because I always… put my money… WHERE MY MIRTH IIISSSSS!


TROY: Welcome back! We’ve got a lot of cash at stake and remember, someone’s going to be driving home in that brand new car! Which leads us to our next question for $2,000… You know all those people who drive around with bumper stickers that say “My child is an honor student at St. Obnoxious [close up on sticker on car]”… whose parent would be driving a car with THIS bumper sticker: “My child made $50 million, sued me and got married before turning 18”?

  • Rick Schroeder
  • Macaulay Culkin
  • Bill Gates Jr.
  • Gary Coleman

KAT: Macauley Culkin!

TROY: Macauley Culkin is correct! [honks horn] That sound means it’s time for a Pop Quiz. Here we go… [swings fake leg up onto the desk] what size is this shoe?

ALEX: A 1?

TROY: That’s incorrect I’m sorry… I’m afraid it was size… two. [takes leg off] This next one is an analogy, see if you can figure out this relationship… Fiedel Castro is to military fatigues, as the Jolly Green Giant is to…

  • Pesticide
  • Corn
  • Leaves
  • Speedos

VAL: Would that be leaves?

TROY: That’s correct for $2,000! By the way, they cover his green peas.

TROY: And now it’s time for the TWO MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION! [Money clock showing $2,000,000 descends from the top, audience do a mexican wave] But! Every second that goes by the dollar value drops, the clock starts when I begin reading are you ready? START THE CLOCK! [Looks at card for a bit. The money’s already down to $1.5m]. Imagine you’re in hell, and all the TV titles are anatomical puns. If the titles of the following TV shows… atchoo!You can't see it very well, but that card appears to be on a bit of string. [Troy starts chasing the card on a string that’s flying round the studio, cries of “come on, hurry up” from Valdemar, close-up cutaway shot of Troy stamping on it, seemingly with the fake leg although that’s nowhere to be seen in the pull back Clock down to $900 at this point and now sigificantly slows down, walks back to podium, has a sip from his mug] Imagine you’re in hell and all the TV titles are anatomical puns. If the titles of the following TV shows aired [clears throat], excuse me, if the titles of the following TV shows aired in order of head-to-toe, which show would air first?

  • The Kindeys in the Hall
  • The Larynx Sanders Show
  • King of Spleens
  • Whose Lung is is Anyway?

VAL: That would be the Larynx Sanders Show.

TROY: The Larynx Sanders Show is correct! For one hundred and ninety-one dollars!

VAL: [head in hands] It could have been worth two million!

TROY: And speaking of larynx, Cookie, why don’t you use yours and tell us the scores?

COOKIE: Kat is totally annihalating the competition with $7,000, Valdemar is in second with $2,191 and Alex is avoiding complete embrassment with $1,000.

TROY: Here’s one for you at home. What’s a ten letter word for a message from our sponsors? That’s correct! Commercial.


TROY: Welcome back! Remember, the first placed contestant gets to keep their winnings but our two runners up go home broke but happy with this… a collection of deoderants! [cutaway to model and deoderants] Raise your hand if you’re Sure! The questions are now worth $3,000. Let’s say you get the major munchies and pig out until you’re as big as the Earth. If your belt were the equator, which of the following structures would be closest to your butt?

  • Great Wall of China
  • Panama Canal
  • Leaning Tower of Pisa
  • Lin-colon Memorial

KAT: Panama Canal!

TROY: The Panama Canal IS CORRECT! The Panama Canal is closest to the equator or in your case, your belt and that means that the Grand Canyon would be your buttcrack. For this question I’m going to show the answer. Here we are. [Holds up a card with “INCORRECT” on it] Got it? Couldn’t be easier. Here’s the question… [puts down card] how do you spell “incorrect”… backwards?

KAT: T… C… [starts air writing with her fingers] [BUZZ] Aoooooow!

TROY: Anybody else like to give it a try?


TROY: THAT IS CORRECT FOR $3,000! We also would have accepted [spins round] INCORRECT [spins back]. Nooowwww! It’s time to play Things That Sound Dirty But Aren’t… Which of these is NOT an official Olympic event?

  • 4-Man Bob
  • Double-Handed Dinghy
  • Two Woman Pole Climb
  • Coxless Pairs

In all likelihood, this was a category title in the computer game. We gather this was a regular round during the show's run.VALDEMAR: That would be Two Women Pole Climb.

TROY: That answer is… CORRECT! Yes, the two women pole climb is not an Olympic event… yet. Now it’s time for our elimination round, whoever is in last place at the end of this question will be eliminated – Alex, that’s looking a lot like you. This next question is worth $5,000 but before we begin, please put your privacy panels in place thank you so much. Please don’t be insulted, we’re not calling any of you cheaters… to your faces. Your deepest concentration is a must for survival, here’s the question:

  • Take the score for a perfect game in bowling.
  • Divide by the number of months that end in “-ember”.
  • Add the number of Backstreet Boys…
  • And multiply the result by the amount of Academy Awards won by “Weekend at Bernie’s”.

You have thirty seconds to answer the question, and the clock starts NOW! [A Maraiachi style band come on behind the contestants and starts playing loudly].

TROY: OK that’s enough! Pens down! Thank you amigos! [Gets cash out]

BAND LEADER: Thirty dollars? Muchos gracias!

A distraction, there.TROY: Don’t gracias me, gracias them – it’s coming out of their pockets! [$10 gets knocked off each of their scores]. Take your privacy panels down please! Let’s check the right answer. A perfect score in a game of bowling is [Audience: 300!] multiply by the amount of months ending in “-ember” [Audience: 3!] three! Add the number of Backstreet Boys [Audience:5!] and multiply by the amount of Academy Awards won by the film “Weekend at Bernies”… [Audience: ZERO!] You all knew that one! And the answer would be… [Audience: ZERO!] zero! What a smart audience, let’s see how smart our contestants are. Kat, you’re in first place, ehat’s your answer?

KAT: [Holding up board] Zero!

TROY: Zero! For $5,000! Valdemar you’re in second place right now what’s your answer… oh come on, show it…

VAL: [Holds up board with 375 on it]

TROY: Ha ha ha! I’m sorry… whoa. Alex, you’re in third place, what did you think the answer was?


TROY: ZERO! Well Valdemar, you’re getting a break because you’re in second place which means that Valdemar and Kat, you’re moving on to our final round! It also means we are all saying goodbye to Alex, adios amigo. [Black hole computer effect, Alex has gone]. When we return, our final two contestants will wage a deadly war in the fast and ferocious Jack Attack. Only one will survive… the tension’s mounting, the pressure’s rising… NEVER LET THEM SEE YOU SWEAT! [Starts spraying deoderant into the air]


The multiple choice questions come up on that screen also.TROY: [Off camera, echoy] Cowards cease your whimpering, it’s time now for THE JACK ATTACK. [Appears on the screen in front of them] Hang on to your buzzers for dear life, Kat and Valdemar! Tonight’s category is What a Funny Name! Match the correct first name to the correct last name to create something funny. Pick the right match, make $5,000. Pick the wrong match, and LOSE $5,000! Ready! Set! Attack! Hank!

COOKIE: OPEC…Seet Buns… Skank… E. Panky…

VAL: Hank E. Panky!


COOKIE: Marla… The Klumps…Tinkle…

VAL: Ivana Tinkle!


COOKIE: King Kong… Dork… Slift… Fungus…

VAL: Fay Fungus?

TROY: Nooo! Ella!

COOKIE: Freak… Fynoe…

KAT: Ella Fynoe!

This is actually a pretty close interpretation of the computer game, albeit not quite as fast paced, and the computer game doesn't have a big floating head in the background.TROY: THAT’S CORRECT! Emma!

COOKIE: Tootles…Gurgle… Roids…

VAL: Emma Roids!


COOKIE: Simpson… Nimrod… Hin Dad!… Pidass…

KAT: Stu Pidass!


COOKIE: King Kong… Dork… Slift…

KAT: Faye Slift!

TROY: FAYE SLIFT IS CORRECT! Cookie, what are the scores!

COOKIE: Valdemar has $13,181, and Kat has $29,990! It’s a Kat’s Game!

[Maraichi band come back out and start playing again, Troy back on stage.]

TROY: Congratulations Kat! You’re $29,990 richer, not bad for thirty minutes of work! And you Valdemar, for working up a sweat you’re going home with the deoderant! Everybody else, that’s it for tonight, and if you think I’m not ending this show without saying You Don’t Know Jack… then You Don’t Know Jack!

[EXT: Troy in car]

TROY: I told you somebody would be driving home in this new car… [drives off]


This article was originally written in 2005, the following comment was left in the original comment box:

Nice one to finish with Brig and definately one I could see working over here. Maybe replacing the waste of space that is 29 Minutes of Fame.

One thought on “You Don’t Know Jack (2001, USA, ABC)

  1. Pingback: You Can’t Play Jack… | Bother's Bar

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.