For an astounding 37 seasons, Alex Trebek helmed the iconic game show Jeopardy!, helping it reach astronomical heights and cement itself among the greatest shows in American television history. As Trebek himself explained shortly before his death, this success was, in part, due to his soothing and welcoming host persona.
“I seem to be, you know, your uncle, your friendly neighbor,” he told NPR. “And people react to that in a positive way. They feel comfortable with me… It makes for a pretty pleasant experience for the television viewer. They don’t feel, oh, gosh, you know, this is a good game, but that host, he’s really obnoxious.”
For decades, the beloved game show host maintained the air of a person who’s as unflappable as they come. In a 2004 interview on the Late Show with David Letterman, however, current host Ken Jennings revealed that his predecessor wasn’t quite as coolheaded as he seemed.
On the contrary, there were many ways to irritate Alex Trebek, of which Jennings named the following ten:
10. Ask him on air, “So, who did your Botox?”
9. Instead of responding, get his attention by throwing nickels at his hand.
8. Buzz in without using your hands.
7. Give Courtney Love directions to his house.
6. Whenever he says the word “potpourri,” you mumble, “woman.”
5. Tell him he is no Wink Martindale.
4. Remind him that although he’s a naturalized citizen, he’ll always be a product of the evil Canadian empire.
3. Complain that he’s not nearly as Trebek-y in person.
2. Your only response: ‘Who gives a rat’s ass?
1. Insist on buying a vowel.
‘Jeopardy!’ Fans Praise Ken Jennings for His Joke Delivery
Ken Jennings’ list of “Ways to Irritate Alex Trebek” is, of course, nothing more than a series of one-liners (though being pelted with nickels would irritate anyone). When the clip recently resurfaced on Reddit, fans immediately got the joke and praised Ken Jennings for his stellar performance. Though he was then-brand new to television, he delivered his comical list like an old pro.
“Ken is so fantastic. His voice and mannerisms have changed quite a bit from 2004 to now,” one fan gushed. “Shows he was a natural at delivering a great one-liner even before he stepped in to the hosting role,” added another.
One fan went as far as to call the Jeopardy! host a comedian. “I’m sure Ken wouldn’t agree with me, but I would call him a comedian,” they said. “After reading [Jennings’ book] Planet Funny, you can tell he’s been a student of comedy for his entire life… But more importantly, he’s just naturally funny.”
Being a successful game show host requires the ability to feel at ease in front of cameras and a generally entertaining TV persona, both of which Ken Jennings has in spades. And he’ll have plenty of opportunities to display his skills, as he’s slated to be the sole host of Jeopardy! for the first half of Season 39!