• Stephanie O’Hanley

Hudson native to appear on Canada’s Smartest Person finale


PHOTO COURTESY CBC

Born and raised in Hudson, Tim Blais who recently gained fame with his YouTube channel A Capella Science, is one of the finalists on the CBC television program Canada’s Smartest Person.

Tim Blais was watching Hockey Night in Canada with his family when they saw an ad for contestants for the second season of CBC’s show, Canada’s Smartest Person. Blais’ family members looked at him and exclaimed ‘You’d be good at that,’” Blais said. “I put it in my back pocket and then I totally forgot about it. In late June I was leaving for a trip and I thought hmm, I wonder when the deadline is. It was that day.”

From discovering the competitive reality TV show, to applying and then winning Episode 2 and becoming a finalist, Blais, who grew up in Hudson but now lives in Montreal, said he kept being surprised. The show’s intelligence test and screening process whittles several thousand people down to the 28 participants who appear on the show. “Every stage of that process I sort of expected that was as far as I would go,” Blais said. “I really didn’t know what they were expecting.”

At first his mom, Jane Blais, didn’t want him on the show. “She was nervous, ‘it’s going to ruin you, you’re going to get a big head from this,’” Blais said, adding she worried they would turn him into somebody else with editing. “She came to the set both times and was in the audience...and now she just loves everybody.”

In each round of Canada’s Smartest Person, host Jessi Cruickshank takes participants through challenges that test six different areas of intelligence - linguistic, logical, visual, physical, music, and social, as they go head-to-head for a spot in the season’s finale. During the October 11 episode, Blais, a scientist and musician whose A Capella Science channel has made him a YouTube star, competed before a live audience against a high school teacher, a radio personality and a Toronto Argonauts cheerleader.

Was he nervous? “My first time singing in front of several hundred people was in Saint Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in Hudson when I was three years old,” Blais said. “I’m pretty used to crowds watching me do things.”

On set, a relaxing atmosphere gave contestants a chance to hold impromptu dance parties and tell jokes whenever they weren’t filming, he said. “The only thing that was stressful was the last challenge we did, the Spin-a-Speech thing where you have to make up a speech on the spot. I love performing on stage but I was as afraid of public speaking as anybody else.”

Though celebrity guest judge Mary Walsh said Blais “struggled linguistically” during Spin-a-Speech, he aced challenges that tested visual, physical, musical and logical intelligence. He sped through the final challenge - an intense obstacle course called The Gauntlet - and won the episode.

“All three of my competitors are just fantastic, really clever people,” Blais said. “I’ve met so many of the people on the show, I know these insanely talented and multidisciplinary people all over Canada who are just really cool and really friendly. “

Blais battles six other finalists in the show’s finale, which airs November 22. “I live downtown. I’m going to see if I can approach a pub somewhere in Montreal and ask them if we can set up shop there and play it on their big screens and have a party.”

While he can’t reveal the show’s ending, he’s embraced the show’s app, which lets you play along as episodes air. He sees people doing better on the app than people who were on the show. ‘“A lot of us who have filmed the thing are playing along and these new people are destroying us.”

For more info on Tim Blais' A Capella Science YouTube channel, see https://www.youtube.com/user/acapellascience.

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