Dansby doesn’t have a degree in family psychology, but as supervising casting director for “Family Feud’’ for the past 11 years, she probably knows more about family dynamics than many therapists. She’s heading to the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, Conn., on March 31 and April 1 to audition families for the TV show’s next season.
Q. On your show, two families compete against each other to name the most popular responses to a survey question posed to 100 people. What makes for good contestants?
A. Are they energetic? Are they going to have fun on camera, or are they going to freeze up and turn into a statue? People don’t know until they get in front of a camera that they are afraid of the camera. They walk on the set, there are cameras and a whole audience, and they say, “Oh no.’’ But most people rally. We talk them through it. But they are just regular people - they don’t do this every day.
Q. What type of family does the best?
A. Families who don’t over-think it. The families who are like, “We’re going to win this money,’’ they end up over-thinking the questions and over thinking the answers and don’t do as well.
Q. On your show, each family has five members. But you go way beyond nuclear. How do you define “family’’?
A. People have to be related by blood, marriage, or legal adoption. We had our first gay married couple on the show last season. They were two women from the Boston area. It was them and their sisters and maybe a cousin. There’s a lot of things that go into casting a show. You can’t have the same type of family up there - you want variety. Maybe all brothers, or all cousins, or all sisters-in-law.
Q. Does every family member need to be high energy? I don’t know many families where everyone is game-show material.
A. Sometimes it happens where there are four people who are really excited and one person not so much. Maybe they have a more low-key personality. That’s OK. Families are families. Maybe it’s four girls and their dad, and the girls are super excited, but the dad’s not - he’s the grumpy old dad. That’s cute.
Q. A lot of money is at stake. Winning families take home up to $20,000 per day, and if they’re on for all five days, they can win up to $100,000 plus a car. Given that, do family members ever get angry with a relative who blows it for everyone?
A. Yes, but I’ve never really seen anyone go off crazy mad or anything like that. But I have seen them hold a little grudge. After they lose you’re in this little area with them, and someone will be upset because of something someone else did. They’ll say, “I can’t believe you didn’t get that.’’ Or, “How could you not think of that?’’ I’ve seen people walk to their cars mad. Sometimes you get excited about winning and spending that money before you actually win it. But they’ll work it out. This is just a game.
Q. Your job looks like a lot of fun - you’re giving people the chance to be on TV and to win big bucks. But you expect 500 to 600 people to come to the audition next weekend, and they won’t all make it. Is that hard?
A. Yes. Sometimes they’ve loved the show for 30 years. They say, “Thank you’’ [when you tell them they haven’t been chosen], but you can hear in their voice that they’re bummed. But we encourage families to try out again. Maybe you brought the wrong family members. You didn’t know that Uncle Bob and Aunt Sue didn’t want to be on camera. But you’ve got two cousins who are awesome, and you’ll bring them next time.
‘Families are families. Maybe it’s four girls and their dad, and the girls are super excited, but the dad’s not - he’s the grumpy old dad. That’s cute.’
Q. Foxwoods is the last stop on your audition swing for next season’s shows. By the time you come to New England, you’ll have been to Pittsburgh, Seattle, Dallas, Louisville, and Chicago. How do we compare?
A. Boston is a little more reserved, but you’re still known to have fun. You’re still loud and crazy. This is our third year going to Foxwoods, so that should tell you we love the feel.
Q. Are we smarter than others?
A. I would say you are smarter, but you don’t have to be smart on the show. That doesn’t help with anything - at least not on the show. BETH TEITELL
Interested families can call 323-762-8467 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for complete information and available times.Interview was condensed and edited. Beth Teitell can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @bethteitell.