“Welcome to Top Card”

Back in 1990, the Nashville Network, TNN,  had created a game show called Top Card and a friend of mine worked on the show.  One day he called me said if I wanted to come on, to let him know and he would see that I got on.  The show was being produced by Lang Scott, who is the father of Hilary Scott, the girl in Lady A.  A few days later, Lang calls me and next thing I know, I am taking a test to be on there. 

About a week goes by and I find out that I am good to go and they tell me to bring five different outfits because they were taping five shows a day.  If you win, you would have about thirty minutes to change into your next outfit and get ready to go.  I brought zero outfits with me because there was no way I was going to win and I was merely there for comedic relief.  Also, I had to borrow the one suit from my brother because I had no suits.  I had told Lang that and he laughed, not knowing what a complete idiot I am.  

I show up on game day and I am ready to go.  Mainly because they had breakfast and lunch for all the cast and crew.  That was literally all I was thinking about, well, besides cracking jokes for my one taping of the show.  I met the other two contestants and quickly realized, they were more clueless than I was.  Never, ever, did it cross my mind I might win.   

They went over the rules that morning and said, “Make sure you put all the info in your bio that you filled out so Jim, the host, can talk about what you do.”  At the time, I was a bouncer at a night club in Nashville, so I put down I was the director of marketing at one of the biggest home improvement companies in the state of Tennessee.  Pfft, they will not ask me this, so again, no worry.  

We walk onto the set, as we were the first show of the day and again told us, if you win, you will have thirty minutes to change and get ready for show number two.  Yeah, Yeah, when is lunch is all I wanted to know.   The three of us line up behind our respective places and stood there for about twenty minutes while the crew was getting everything ready.  At this point, we had not met the host but a booming voice over a speaker said that we were five minutes out so let’s get ready.  

Five minutes felt like five seconds because before you know it, all quiet on the set, lights go down and they roll the open.  The announcer says, “Welcome to Top Card and here is your host, Jim Caldwell.”  There were about 15 people in the crowd and I remember that we had tape it again because it wasn’t loud enough from the audience.  Take 2 was a success and then Jim says, “before we get started, lets meet out our contestants.  He is from Nashville and ohh, he is an important person.  He is the director of marketing for one of the biggest home improvement companies in Tennessee, let’s welcome Joe Dubin.”  Scattering of applause and whew, dodged a bullet because he asked me no questions.  “Joe, explain what a director of marketing does.”

You ever day dream and just wish you were in that place and no one knows you and you really enjoy that?  That was me at that moment because I still don’t, to this day, know what a director of marketing does.  You also know that clip where they ask a Miss Teen America a question and she completely babbles through it?  She was Einstein to my answer.  I just started talking, “Well Jim, that depends on what day you ask.  Ha Ha.  No, a director of marketing is the go to person for all things marketing within the company and if someone calls in with a marketing question, since I am the director of marketing, they will point all the questions to me, because that is my job with marketing.”  I paused and began talking again and the host said, “Sounds good, Joe.”  

Absolutely awful, but hey, who cares because this will never see the light of day.  Here comes the problem with all of that.  I knew within the first few questions that I was going to win.  Not because I knew anything, but that my fellow contestants knew absolutely nothing.  Nothing.  After the first break, Lang Scott walks over and laughs again at my marketing director babbling.  “You’re not really a marketing director are you?”  I feigned shock and said, “How dare you?  I certainly am!”  We both laughed and we started back up and yes, I ended up winning the game.  

Jim, the host calls me over, and we are all buddy buddy and at the end, I got to buy prizes from the money I had won.  Remember the old Wheel of Fortune, where you could buy items?  Same thing here.  I bought some luggage and a few other things and really thought this was a giant joke.  Lang comes back by and says, “Hey go change, and grab something to eat and we will call you back out here in about thirty minutes.”  Sure thing, sir.  

Here we go with game number two.  I am wearing the same outfit and no one notices which made me laugh.  They introduce the contestants and the host says, “Let’s meet our returning champion.  He is from Nashville and is the director of marketing for a big home improvement company in Tennessee so let’s welcome Joe Dubin.”  Oh Lord, please just skip this next part.  This guy asks me, “So Joe, what is a typical day like for you at work?”  I start laughing because I have no idea how to answer this.  “Well Jim, we take leads and we go out and talk to homeowners about improving their house, cause we are a home improvement company and they have a house.”  He knew, he absolutely knew at that moment that I had no clue what I was talking about. 

Game 2 was worse than game one with my fellow contestants.  I don’t think they answered a single question correctly, and for some odd reason, I did, and before you know it, I am back in the winners circle with the host.  I ended up grabbing some very nice prizes and was feeling really good about what’s happening.  Until one of the producers walked up and said, “before you leave, we need your tax information.”  I said, “Oh really, why?”  She said, “you have to pay taxes on everything that you win.”  Excuse me, what?  I had no idea that whatever you win on a game show, you have to pay taxes on it.  

So game two is in the books and I got to get ready for number three.  Now I am feeling it because I have won twice and people coming up to me and talking and tell me how great of a job I am doing.  It was wonderful, until game 3 got going.  When the host introduced me as a two time winner and read my bio, they completely skipped the Q&A.  I could only imagine what the host said to the producer about asking me a question at the beginning.  “Do not, in no shape, form, or fashion, ask that big dummy anything.  At all!  Just skip it.”  They did, thank God.  I got absolutely smoked in game three.  Answered nothing because the whole time I am thinking, “How much are taxes on a vacation to the Bahamas?  How much are taxes on eight piece of really nice luggage?  How much are taxes on the best blender on the market?  I think sub-consciously I threw the game.  I couldn’t fathom paying anymore taxes on my winnings.  

After it was over, my friend who got me on the show walked over and said, “I was hoping they would ask you another question about marketing so we could see what type of nonsense you could pull out of you butt.”  I found out that they were also going to serve dinner after it was all over so I stayed, like a porch cat, to eat as much food as I could.  I will never forget that while eating, one of the producers walked over and said, “Joe, don’t forget to grab your other suits in the green room.”  Oh, I won’t.  

Top Card aired for five seasons on TNN and I hope they had a real director of marketing as a guest.  If not, anyone know what that position exactly does?  

Share on social

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

More from Big Joe