By now I’m sure you’ve seen this clip of Jeopardy! winner Burt Thakur that went viral last week before the news yesterday about Alex Trebek. Even still, it’s worth watching again and again:
Alex's impact is immeasurable. Thank you for sharing, Burt! pic.twitter.com/XgGGwJ8GlH— Jeopardy! (@Jeopardy) November 6, 2020
Someone in the comments then wrote that Alex has been a “surrogate father” to many people. Every weekday, we all knew when and where to find Alex and that he’d not only show up, he’d show up with the straight FACTS. How about the Show Your Work of Alex Trebek? Alex Trebek had one job and he was excellent at his job. Sometimes being good at his job meant being disappointed when people got the answers – or, rather, the questions – wrong. That’s a big part of it, right? You go on Jeopardy! of course to flex your knowledge and win the money, and winning money by dunking facts on people, God, I can’t even imagine how good that feels. But you’re also there to impress the Fact Daddy, Alex Trebek. Or, rather, you never, ever want to disappoint Fact Daddy, Alex Trebek. But that’s been a Jeopardy! highlight all these years too. When contestants totally whiff on an easy answer (I particularly enjoy when it’s a pop culture clue) and Alex basically tells them they should have known.
Today’s a good day to revisit David Marchese’s interview with Alex for Vulture in 2018. The conversation is wide-ranging and relaxed. Alex is sharp and thoughtful and funny and takes his job seriously but does not take himself too seriously. I laughed out loud when he checked David for not answering in the form of a question at one point.
You may not agree with everything he says in this interview but where Jeopardy! is concerned and why he accumulated the cultural value he did, we can all agree on his approach:
“You have to set your ego aside. The stars of the show are the contestants and the game itself. That’s why I’ve always insisted that I be introduced as the host and not the star. And if you want to be a good host, you have to figure a way to get the contestants to — as in the old television commercial about the military — “be all you can be.” Because if they do well, the show does well. And if the show does well, by association I do well.”
Jeopardy! is not a team game. But one of the reasons why Jeopardy! has endured for so long is because its host understood that he was part of a team.
Yours in gossip,