Issa Schultz is The Supernerd on the TV series The Chase Australia.
Issa Schultz is The Supernerd on the TV series The Chase Australia. Channel

The Supernerd – one of the smartest men on television

WHEN Issa Schultz was a child he found an old Trivial Pursuit board game hidden in a cupboard. In that moment his fate was sealed, for he was to become The Supernerd - one of the smartest men on television.

Issa's dedication to learning goes right back to his schoold ays at Noosa District State High School.

"When we immigrated in '95, we moved to Tewantin… I was a good student, admittedly so. I was well behaved and I didn't get suspended or anything like that.

"It might sound lame, but I loved it, I really did. I was fortunate to have that mix of being a good student but not being fixed on one subject. I managed to be one of the four school captains in 2001 for the final year.

"The only one thing I may have got in trouble for was music. Music was my passion; in Year 12 I went to many a class where I would instead want to be in the music room practising, but I passed everything comfortably at the time."

Issa admits he still enjoys music, with a violin and piano of his own.

"I still play those but not as much as I should. I also play trumpet, French horn and trombone, so when I left school I left them there."

UK born Issa says it took a while for him to feel comfortable with the name Supernerd, which is the name of his alter-ego on Channel Seven's quiz show The Chaser.

"They (Channel Seven) came up with the nickname and I slowly embraced it. At first, way back in May and June before we started filming, I remember thinking 'oh, all right, I'll be the Supernerd'. But now I'm fine and I realise it was the right choice," Issa says.

While Issa has a reputation for having a brain the size of a planet, he is quite modest about it all. He says learning new things is something he has always enjoyed.

"It's the sort of thing I do anyway. I've always had a natural interest in everything. I sort of intensify it in the last few weeks before I go back into the studio."

Issa was once a TV quiz show contestant himself, having won big on The Rich List and The Einstein Factor. Not only that, but Issa has also won the Australian leg of the World Quizzing Championships three times.

He says his track record is a challenge many contestants find irresistible.

"We get an interesting array of people who apply. Some are people with family who have put them up to it and some are quiz players. They get a look on their face that says they are on a mission, and they normally know what they are doing because they've been on telly before."

According to Issa, study is the secret to having a chance of winning serious money on a quiz show.

"We want people who are natural, so be yourself. I reckon maybe just reading the paper for a few days up to the show will even help. You can cram as much as you want, but with newspapers when something current affairs-based is asked, at least you've had a chance of it coming up in the paper.

"Also, everyone has topics that they enjoy. Read up on those things that you enjoy because it feels less like a chore and it helps your brain. Endorphins go off because you're learning stuff. I know it sounds simple and there may be questions you've never read about, but at least you can go in with the confidence of knowing something.

"If we lose we're giving money away to the contestants. The show needs to give away money, but at the same time we (the Chasers) are treating it as a personal loss. I love seeing people win because I've been a contestant and so I know how good it feels to win. If I win it's great, but then I have to look at four disappointed faces."

Issa adds he and the other Chasers are constantly reading and studying new topics to increase their knowledge and after all that study they are ready to take on a new round of contestants.

"I still have a lot of old heavy books, but now Wikipedia is gaining credibility all the time and with other websites you can do so much research. We all approach it quite differently. Brydon (The Shark) likes the taunting and the stirring, which is funny because he's not like that at all.

"When I go out there I sit down and talk to the first contestant, like having a chat. Because it brings the best out of them and makes them relax. We don't want them to go pass, pass, pass.

"Anne (the Governess) sort of stays to herself. She doesn't break out of character. Same with Goliath (Matt Parkinson), which was interesting. He is a very focused man, he goes out there and as you know he is a comedian as well, but when he goes out there his concentration levels are really up. He thinks about what he is going to say and he is a man on a mission.

"This is why I really love watching the episodes, every show is different. They all have their own little approach. People seriously think Anne never smiles. A lot of the time she does, but she is in character the whole time during the filming."

The latest addition to the Chase Australia cast is Mark Labbett, aka The Beast.

"He is wonderful. He's a lovely chap," Issa says of his new cast-mate.

"He also really is scary. The first time I met him was in the hotel foyer and he texted me and said I'll meet you by the lift. And the doors opened and I looked up and up and up, he's just so tall.

"He said I hope you don't mind a chat, and he was fresh off the plane, but he chatted for about two hours. He's passionate about life.

"He is very much a competitor. When he's playing contestants he really does want to knock them out. He is a big bad beast on camera, but he is actually a really nice guy."

With new episodes in production, Issa says now is the time for people to apply to be a contestant.

"People find themselves blurting out answers and we've had people win from blurting out an answer, and that's what I love about the show."

Test your brain power

The Supernerd has some questions for you ... Are you smart enough to take him on? Take Issa's Quiz to find out.

1. Which US city shortened its name in 1831 by dropping a letter "a", so that it would fit on the masthead of the city newspaper?

2. Who has reserved a final resting place situated next to Marilyn Monroe for when he passes away?

3. Duchenne and Pan-American are both types of what?

4. In which Olympic sport do players wear a sliding shoe and a non-sliding shoe?

5. The city of Riverside, Iowa, holds an annual festival in anticipation of which fictional character's upcoming birth in the year 2233?

6. What was Clive James describing when he said: "It looks like a typewriter full of oyster shells, like a broken Pyrex casserole dish in a brown cardboard box"?

7. Established in 1961, Hamburger University in Illinois is for people who are studying what?

8. Which American rock musician and film actress has an alter ego called Cherry Koo Koo?

9. The Hen and Chicken Islands form part of which country?

10. Which Australian city - the third most populated in its state or territory - was originally called Hummock's Hill?

ANSWERS (scroll down)...

1. Cleveland (originally Cleaveland)

2. Hugh Hefner

3. Smile (Duchenne is considered a genuine smile, where as Pan-American is considered fake)

4. Curling

5. James T. Kirk (from Star Trek)

6. Sydney Opera House

7. McDonalds Restaurant Management

8. Courtney Love

9. New Zealand

10. Whyalla, in South Australia

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