Jeopardy! fans know that a lot has changed since its iconic host, Alex Trebek, passed away in 2020. However, one of the biggest shakeups came during the COVID-19 pandemic when producers were unable to welcome back their live audience. Now, ahead of the season 39 premiere, which is set to air on Monday, September 12th, Jeopardy! is finally featuring a live audience, with tapings already underway. Ahead of the upcoming premiere, however, one audience member has shared some major details regarding changes in the game show and its new official host.
According to The U.S. Sun, Ken Jennings, Jeopardy!‘s 48-year-old all-time champion, whom many fans believed to be Trebek’s prodigy long before his passing, has already dishonored one of the beloved host’s longheld traditions. In a blog post, the informative Jeopardy! fan revealed, “Ken doesn’t really interact with the audience or take questions during breaks the same way Alex used to.”
Instead, they explained, “He came down to the front of the stage after the show’s first commercial break to thank the audience for coming.”
In addressing the crowd, Jennings reportedly admitted that that first taping marked the first time he’d appeared in front of a live audience on Jeopardy! since his Greatest of All Time appearance several years ago. And, based on the Jeopardy! fan’s blog post, audience members could definitely tell.
Per their account, Ken Jennings made a major fumble in his script when he first came to the stage to tape the first episodes of Jeopardy!
“When Ken walked out on stage for the first time, everyone was cheering and hollering so loudly that he fumbled his introduction and was stopped, muttering ‘Damn it!'” the post read.
Ken Jennings Remembers Alex Trebek During ‘Jeopardy!’ Tapings
Ken Jennings might not be living up to Jeopardy!‘s live audience members’ standards (yet), but he did take a moment during those first tapings for the new season to tribute the late game show host.
During his first appearance back in front of a live audience, Jennings told the watching crowd that no one would be happier to see guests returning to Jeopardy!‘s set than Alex Trebek himself. In dropping his predecessor’s name, perhaps Jennings hoped to establish a sort of bond with the watching audience members. That said, fans of the long-running game show still noted a significant difference between Trebek’s and Jennings’ stage presences.
Most prominently, the fan explained, “[Alex Trebek] was always cracking jokes during the breaks, which the audience enjoyed.”
Regardless, Alex Trebek definitely had a lot more experience in front of a crowd and the camera than Jennings currently does. So, because the younger man is still adjusting to his new role as permanent host, fans are hoping Jennings will feel more comfortable after some time passes.
“I feel like [Ken Jennings] will open up to the crowd with time,” the audience member said, “but he doesn’t seem comfortable enough to do it the same way that Alex did for so many years.”