The best fun facts from Alex Trebek's memoir The Answer Is…
It probably won't surprise you to learn that Alex Trebek's new memoir doesn't contain any particularly scandalous revelations or explosive confessions. The Answer Is… is a look back through the life of a man who, by his own admission, thinks his life is "not particularly exciting." But in 80 years on this earth and 36 years hosting Jeopardy!, you're bound to have a few interesting stories to tell, and Trebek has more than a few. Read on for the best fun facts and tidbits revealed in The Answer Is…
Long before Jeopardy!, Trebek met the Queen two days in a row
When Trebek was still an up-and-coming TV personality in Canada, he was assigned to host a variety show celebrating the country's centennial in 1967. Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip were in attendance, and greeted all the show's performers when it was finished. "The Queen got to me and said, 'Good show. Please tell me your name, and where you are from,'" Trebek writes. He ended up speaking to the Queen for several minutes (as Prince Philip was apparently waylaid by a group of Estonian gymnasts), and met her again the next day after hosting another centennial show. "As she approached me, I was thinking, Here comes my new best friend. I wonder what we'll talk about today?" Trebek writes. "And when she got to me, she said, 'Good show. Please tell me your name, and where you are from.'"
Trebek never really partied hard
The most "scandalous" story in The Answer Is...: Trebek once ate "four or five" hash brownies at a party, not knowing they contained drugs ("Mr. Naive here," he quips) and had to spend the entire weekend recuperating in the hosts' guest bedroom.
Another famous Canadian helped Trebek get started in American TV
After several years spent hosting shows for the Canadian network CBC, Trebek broke into U.S. television with the help of fellow Ontario native Alan Thicke. The late Growing Pains star developed a game show called The Wizard of Odds for NBC in the 1970s, and offered Trebek a shot at the hosting gig. Part of the reason he got the job was because there was no space in the show's studio for cue cards, and Trebek could improvise well enough to work without them.
A studio executive wanted Jeopardy! to be easier
The Wizard of Odds led to a string of jobs hosting short-lived American game shows, until Trebek landed what would become his iconic role as Jeopardy! host in 1984. The show initially struggled to attract an audience, however, and Trebek says one executive argued it was because the material was too difficult. Trebek agreed to "soften up" the show — but with two months' worth of episodes already taped, he didn't actually do anything. The next time he saw the executive, Trebek writes, "I said, 'Did you notice that the material got a lot easier?' 'Yeah!' he said. 'Thank you so much for doing that. It's playing a lot better now.'"
Trebek likes SNL's parody of him… but he prefers the Canadian version
Trebek has often expressed his appreciation for Will Ferrell's impression of him on Saturday Night Live, but in his memoir, he reveals his favorite Trebek impersonator is Eugene Levy on Canada's SCTV. The Schitt's Creek star played "Alex Trebel" (eventually just called Alex Trebek) in the recurring sketches "Half-Wits" and "High-Q," forerunners of SNL's Celebrity Jeopardy! that saw Levy's hot-tempered Trebek dealing with lineups of shockingly inept contestants. ("High-Q" specifically parodies Reach for the Top, a Canadian quiz show the real Trebek hosted early in his career.)
The reason behind Trebek's Jeopardy! crayon
Sharp-eyed Jeopardy! viewers may have noticed that Trebek always wields a Crayola Twistable crayon while hosting the show. He uses it to mark off the clues that have been selected as the game progresses — but why a crayon? "It's the writing implement that makes the least amount of noise and won't be picked up by my microphone," Trebek explains in the book.
The breakfast of champions
Trebek likes a light meal to start his long Jeopardy! workdays: "For years, my breakfast of choice was a Snickers and a Diet Coke. Then my doctor lectured me about changing that. So now it's a Kit Kat and a Diet Pepsi."
The Jeopardy! writers pull the best pranks
The Jeopardy! writers once presented Trebek with a category called "When the Aztecs Spoke Welsh," with clues made up of Aztec and Welsh-language words. The category, which Trebek calls "a tongue twister's delight," "scared the daylights out of" him, and only after he spent "a great deal of time" learning how to pronounce all the words did he find out the category was an April Fool's joke.
Trebek's favorite contestant interview
Depending on who you ask, the part of every Jeopardy! episode where Trebek interviews the three contestants is either a fun and engaging way to get to know the players or a boring and unnecessary break in gameplay and will they get back to the clues already. But it's all worth it when you get someone like 1987 Teen Tournament contestant Dana Venator, whom Trebek singles out as his favorite contestant to talk to out of the thousands of people who have appeared on the show. You can see why in the video below; Venator makes quite an impression in her limited time with her witty lines and "bad poetry" like "Roses are red / Violets are blue / Some poems rhyme / And some don't."
You can adopt an Alex Trebek-certified musk ox
Trebek has been involved with a lot of charitable causes, including the protection of the musk ox, his favorite animal. It's his favorite, he writes, because they form a circle to protect the herd when facing a predator. "So long as they stand together, they are safe," Trebek writes. "This has always touched me at a gut level." The Jeopardy! host made a contribution to a farm in Alaska that raises musk oxen, and now, he writes, "if you send in a donation to adopt a baby musk ox, you receive a certificate signed by the musk ox honorary parent, Alex Trebek." (Unfortunately, the book does not provide information how to do so.)