Interview with CSP 2012 Finalist, Marshall Carroll


In 2012, we held our first #SmartestPerson search, whittling down thousands of applicants to four lucky finalists. Among them was High School Teacher and stand up comic, Marshall Carroll.

Marshall holds a Ph.D in Quantum Chemistry and since 2012, he’s been busy teaching at Vincent Massey Collegiate, Winnipeg. We reached out to Marshall to tell us what being a competitor on Canada’s Smartest Person was like….

Q: When you entered the competition in 2012, did you think you had a shot at being a finalist?

A: I entered on a whim. I did not really think I had a chance to be in the final four. There are 30 million smart Canadians ! I was surprised but very happy !

Q. Did someone encourage you to apply?

A: My wife and children encouraged me to apply for CSP. I am always telling them how smart I am  (-;

Q: Tell us about your CSP experience…

A: It started with a driver holding up my name at Pearson Airport. That has never happened before! 

The day of the taping started bright and early at 7:30 am. As we drove up to the CBC building, I had trouble opening the van door to get out (not a great omen, in retrospect).

I thought we three guys would share one dressing room and Laura would get another but we all got our own rooms with our names on the door – very classy!

The rest of the day was unbelievable – highs, frustrations, pure adrenaline rushes, defeats and everything in between.  For me, convincing Arlene Dickinson that I was Canada’s Smartest Person and that the Periodic Table was the greatest invention of all time was the biggest highlight.

Around 17 hours after the day started, it was all over. I was mentally and physically exhausted but in a good way. I would not trade the CSP experience I had with anything. And even though I didn’t win (It would have been great to win, though). 

Marshall Carroll in Canada's Smartest Person on CBC 2012

Q. Which of the Multiple-Intelligence’s comes to you the easiest?

A: Social – I am always the one at gatherings making sure that everyone is mingling. I make sure no one is left out. I am a good listener. People I hardly know tell me secrets because they know I am trustworthy.

Q. Which of the Multiple-Intelligence’s do you struggle with?

A: Visual is tough. Doing transformations in my head is a real challenge. (I should play more Jenga and 3-D Tetris). Some of the physical/dexterity skills are a little tricky. I should have gone to more frat parties in University so that I would have done better at the cup stacking!

Q. What’s the most un-intelligent thing you’ve ever done?

A: Scoffed at the frat boys when they said, "Come on, Marshall. Do more cup stacking with us!"

Q. What did you get out of being on CSP?

A: Fun and fame. I kid you not when I tell you that I was recognized at the Winnipeg airport by complete strangers. They congratulated me on my performance and said I was very entertaining.

The period after the taping but before the airing of CSP was extremely exciting because the Winnipeg media really got into the story. I was interviewed by newspapers, magazines and blogs, on CBC and other radio stations and on TV stations.

My high-school students got a kick of my celebrity status as well and presented me with a huge periodic table at a pep rally. I competed in a cup stacking contest against the students at the rally. I won (but I think they let me win!)

Q: Was CSP a memorable experience for you?

A: Definitely. I have great memories of CSP. I will always remember the day CSP actually aired. It was in March at the same time that the college basketball “March Madness” was happening. My friends and family across Canada got together to have “Marsh Madness” parties and cheer me on in CSP. Everyone wore plaid shirts because, apparently, I always wear plaid shirts.

Further, the media was hovering about, hoping to get the inside scoop and an interview with me the moment CSP finished.

Another memorable experience was just walking around the CBC building. I relived my childhood as I saw huge photos of The Friendly Giant and Mr. Dressup!

Q:. Who should apply for CSP 2014?

A: If you are strong in at least two of the multiple intelligences tested on CSP, go for it ! You may surprise yourself and excel in other intelligences as well.

Q. Any advice for this year’s applicants?

A: Even though it says that submitting a video is optional, make sure to do so. Storyboard your video. Use good lighting and make sure the audio is clear. Use humour in the video.

Be confident but not conceited. Do not put down other applicants.

If you make it onto the show, enjoy the experience. Embrace everyone’s talents.

Q: Is there any training people should do between now and the show?

A: Take out big books of puzzles from the library. Try the puzzles and brainbusters. Practice!

Refresh mental math techniques.

Go to many weddings and make toasts (even if you are not invited).

Photo by: Simon Fuller. Marshall with students at Vincent Massey Collegiate 

View Marshalls website here

Follow Marsshall on Twitter @maddie273


'The Brightest Star' written and performed by Marshall Carroll.

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