‘Jeopardy!’s Mayim Bialik and Ken Jennings Open Up About the ‘Pressure’ of Following Alex Trebek

by Tia Bailey

Jeopardy!‘s summer hiatus is coming to an end, meaning a brand new season with brand new co-hosts. Ken Jennings and Mayim Bialik spoke about the hosting responsibilities. 

The two co-hosts sat down for their first interview together on the “Inside Jeopardy” podcast. The podcast is a new addition to the Jeopardy! franchise. EP of the show Michael Davies announced the news in a letter to fans, the same letter where he confirmed Jennings and Bialik as the official, permanent co-hosts of the show. 

“Because all of the above gives us so much to talk about, and because there is always so much to talk about on Jeopardy! (it’s a sport, remember?) we will be launching a topical weekly podcast wherever you listen to your podcasts. Hosted by the Jeopardy! producers, including me, ‘Inside Jeopardy!’ will give you all an inside look into everything going on behind the scenes at America’s Favorite Quiz Show: everything from gameplay analysis and behind-the-scenes stories, to official announcements, and special interviews,” he wrote. 

Jennings and Bialik went into the stresses of hosting the popular gameshow after the late Alex Trebek. 

“I feel like if I make a mistake, even if we can go back and edit it, it feels very embarrassing,” Bialik said. “Because I think people are like, ‘Oh, she’s a celebrity,’ or ‘Oh, she’s got a PhD, she shouldn’t make simple math errors,’ but sometimes I do! It’s very stressful, sorry!”

‘Jeopardy!’ Comes Back with New Hosts in September

Jennings chimed in: “Smart contestants, smart audience, and then on the toss to commercial, I like say my name wrong or something, and I’m like ‘What is even happening?’”

Hosting after Trebek especially came with its challenges. 

“I watched Alex do it up close and I couldn’t understand the kind of ease and grace because you’re doing so many things at once, right,” Jennings said. “You’re trying to run the show for the contestants, you’re part of the game just like the writers of the board, but you’re also trying to interpret it for the folks at home. So it’s like you’re a sportscaster almost. And it goes so fast.” 

Although it is a stressful experience, the two still love the job. 

It’s just a very intense adrenaline experience you kind of chase for the rest of your life,” Jennings said. “And when the games get really good out here, when the players are really cooking and it’s intense and it’s close, I kind of feel like I’m in there playing, you’re part of the game. You’re part of the show. There’s this transcendent thing that happens where the audience is locked in and I just look for that.”

Bialik added that she loves watching people play and the excitement. 

Fans can watch the new co-hosts on the new season of Jeopardy! on September 12.