’Jeopardy!’: Why Late Host Alex Trebek Made Regis Philbin ‘Nervous’

by John Jamison
jeopardy-host-alex-trebek-made-regis-philbin-nervous

You’d be hard-pressed to find two bigger television icons than Alex Trebek and Regis Philbin to put in a room together. In the 2018 documentary “Game Changers,” the late “Jeopardy!” and “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” hosts were in that exact position. And not only were they in a room together, but Alex Trebek also made Regis a sandwich.

What’s more, Trebek apparently had Philbin nervous. Why? Well, the longtime “Jeopardy!” host brought back some bad memories for Regis.

“Now, you have the added experience as a game show host, of having been a contestant as well on a number of game shows,” Trebek said in the documentary. “And being a contestant is a different kind of tension. How did you feel being a contestant?”

Alex, of course, is referring to Philbin’s infamous 1992 appearance on “Celebrity Jeopardy!” where the “Regis and Kelly” star struggled to master the timing of the buzzer.

“Oh, I was very nervous. I’m nervous now. Just look at you, what you’re doing to me,” Regis answered Trebek in the documentary.

The “Jeopardy!” quiz master was kind, but also intimidating in his knowledge. We can’t blame Regis for being nervous.

Regis Philbin on ‘Celebrity Jeopardy!’

In 1992, Regis Philbin was featured on an episode of “Celebrity Jeopardy!” alongside Donna Mills and Carol Burnett. The nature of the time period meant that Trebek was fully mustachioed and in all his glory.

The game started with Donna and Carol absolutely smoking Regis. The “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” star couldn’t beat their buzzers, whether he had a correct answer in mind or not. His struggles led Alex Trebek to very uncharacteristically pause the game. He proceeded jokingly to make sure Regis’ buzzer was working.

“Before you get to select again, I would like to ask a favor of Regis. Regis, would you ring in please?” Trebek asked in the 1992 episode.

“Is this thing working?” Philbin responded, frustrated. “Thank you for checking.” There was nothing wrong with the buzzer.

“It works. You don’t” Trebek said. “And Regis will try to master the technique of the signaling button during this commercial break.”

It’s no wonder Regis was so nervous sitting across from him. The “Jeopardy!” host roasted Regis on primetime television. But thankfully, the pair of television icons were well-meaning men and did it all in jest. Although, Philbin wasn’t very nice about the quality of the sandwich that Alex made for him.

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