Alex Trebek had always been a master at reading the clues of “Jeopardy!” with little to no stumbling or mistakes.
At one point, the writers of the show wanted to test just how well Trebek could read the clues and prepare beforehand. He was given quite the tongue twister challenge.
‘Jeopardy!’ and April Fool’s Day
On April Fool’s Day one year, the show gave Trebek a fake category to prepare for. Trebek said in an interview with Television Academy in 2007 that the category was “When the Aztecs spoke Welsh.” He said that the clues were a “tongue twister’s delight.”
“Then they said, ‘Did you look at the top of the game?’ The game was going to air on April 1st, April Fool’s Day. So, it was just an April Fool’s joke,” Trebek recalled.
He had put a lot of work into learning the category, which was obviously part of the joke. However, he later told writers they should actually run with the category given the fact it was already written and he had put time into preparing for it.
“I mentioned to a studio audience … I said, you know, I was really ticked at them, after putting in a lot of minutes working on all those words and getting the right diacritical marks so that I could get the correct pronunciation …” Trebek said.
This isn’t the first time that “Jeopardy!” had participated in April Fool’s Day to some extent. In 1997, Alex Trebek and Pat Sajak from “Wheel of Fortune” switched places for the day. It was one of the few times that Trebek wasn’t the one reading the clues on the “Jeopardy!” stage. His old mustache also got a shoutout in a 2016 episode.
It was to help with the hint, “Author Oscar Hijuelos created this group who ‘play songs of love.'” The answer, The Mambo Kings, was read by an older, more mustache-forward Trebek. When he shaved his mustache in 2001, the Earth stood still for a moment. He even told the press to “get a life” after how much of an uproar they caused.
Writers Talk About Trebek’s Legacy
Alex Trebek had worked with many people during his nearly four decades hosting “Jeopardy!.” From producers to writers to contestants to crew members, many people had felt the immeasurable sadness of his passing in November 2020.
Two writers for the show, Tyler Aquilina and Rosy Cordero, as well as TV critic Kristen Baldwin and senior TV editor Gerrad Hall, talked about Trebek’s legacy as a host with Entertainment Weekly.
“A hallmark of a good host is, it looks like they’re not doing any work; they make it look easy. It’s so hard to do that well,” Baldwin said.
They also noted that Trebek had a way of showing just how much he loved learning and knowledge. He had always practiced before the show and was very familiar with the information he provided to contestants.
Contestants were then always made to feel like the central point of “Jeopardy!.” He never tried to take the spotlight or make things about him.