It didn’t take long for Alex Trebek to become a cultural icon know for his sharp wit and intellect. But first he was a heartthrob. Soon after starting a 36-year stint that began in 1984 as the host of Jeopardy!, the nerd-o-sphere’s most beloved gameshow, the Los Angeles Times likened Trebek’s appearance to “an unusually handsome professor.” Trebek was also featured in People Magazine in an article titled, “Sorry Girls, Mom Keeps House for Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek,” a soul-crushing story about how that the then-single Trebek lived with his mother. Trebek would go on to delight generations of trivia lovers with his smugness, unique brand of humor, intellectual curiosity, and deep love for Jeopardy’s format before passing away from pancreatic cancer earlier this month.
On this week’s TFG Podcast, Melissa Jacobs welcomes in The Ringer’s Claire McNear, author of the new book with bittersweet timing, Answers In The Form of Questions: A Definitive History and Insider’s Guide to Jeopardy!.
McNear, who spent time with Trebek, explains how the man on screen is the same off it. She also describes why Jeopardy is a sport, who might replace Trebek, her own impromptu Jeopardy! tryout, and that infamous Talkin’ Football category from 2018.
6:24: Claire McNear joins
9:42: How Jeopardy! after Trebek was the origin of the book before Trebek’s diagnosis
12:12: Spending time with Trebek, what he’s really like
18:49: Ken Jennings and the impact of ditching the five-day maximum champion rule
22:16: Buzzer training, advanced questions analytics and other forms of hardcore Jeopardy! training
26:25: Melissa reminisces about the time that TheFootballGirl.com was a Jeopardy! answer!
29:02: That infamous Talkin’ Football category
31:07: What it was like for McNear to be strongarmed into an impromptu Jeopardy! audition at Trivia Nationals
33:29: What’s next for Jeopardy?
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