One thing that has come to light since legendary “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek passed away is that hosting the popular game show is not as easy as it looks. This is something Dr. Sanjay Gupta learned during his time as a guest host of the show.
He talked about this during a recent column for his home network, CNN. Reading the clues in a timely manner and keeping the show running smoothly takes practice and a lot of focus. This responsibility falls on the host even though, according to Gupta, that host is rarely seen on camera during the show.
“One of the things you may have noticed is the guest host is only on camera for a few minutes throughout the entire show. At the beginning, at the end, during the contestant interviews and during those occasions when no one came up with the right response,” Gupta shared. “… Most of the time, the TV audience sees either the board or the contestants, and as I figured out, that notable detail is one of the most critical in making the show appear seamless.”
The reason for this goes back to how and when contestants can hit their buzzers in order to respond to a “Jeopardy!” clue. How efficiently the host reads that clue impacts the contestants and the timing of the game. If the host misreads a clue, that impacts how quickly the contestants may respond with their answer.
“It is very important that I don’t throw off the pace with a clumsy read of the clue because that can throw off the board operator, which then throws off the contestants – and if someone rings in too early, they are locked out for a quarter-second, which can make all the difference,” Gupta shared. “Bottom line: No one is happy.”
Dr. Sanjay Gupta Explains the ‘Secret’ That Keeps Episodes of ‘Jeopardy!’ Running Smoothly
By not showing the host reading the clue, “Jeopardy!” can later rerecord the reading of that clue. This keeps things running smoothly and looking “polished,” according to Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
“Here is the secret. If I do butcher the reading of the clue, I can still power through the mispronunciation without trying to auto correct or do anything else to throw off the cadence of my read,” he explained. “And, then during the commercial break or at the end of the show, I can just read it again. Because I was not on camera during those botched reads in the first place, the TV audience will never know the difference. Problem solved.”
Gupta also shared details about just how good the late Alex Trebek was at reading clues on “Jeopardy!” What he had to share says a lot about Trebek’s abilities as the show’s longtime host.
“Out of 305 clues in a single day, I was told Alex Trebek only occasionally had to reread a clue,” Gupta said. “I wasn’t nearly as proficient. One day, I had to reread every clue in a particular category. …”