Alex Trebek's best burns on Jeopardy!
Fans celebrated Alex Trebek's kindness and warmth throughout his 30-plus years of hosting Jeopardy!, and many past contestants have spoken about the late entertainer's positive impact on their lives. However, what endeared Trebek to many was his wit and playfulness behind his lectern.
As Will Ferrell parodied to the extreme on Saturday Night Live, Trebek never shied away from lightheartedly zinging contestants for wrong answers. In honor of the late host, who died Sunday from pancreatic cancer, EW presents some of Trebek's best and funniest burns.
"I can tell you guys are big football fans"
Watching contestants fumble the football category in a 2018 episode was hilarious from start to finish. After all three competitors blanked on the $200 and $400 clues, Trebek quipped, "Do you think we should go to commercial?"
When, unsurprisingly, no one buzzed in for the next two questions, the host joked, "Let's look at the $1000 clue just for the fun of it."
"I have to talk to them," Trebek added after the three failed to answer the final clue. The contestants, as well as the typically subdued studio audience, all cracked up at Trebek's response at the lack of sports knowledge in the room that day.
Trebek really went for it in a 2016 episode when contestant Susan Cole spoke about her affinity for "nerdcore hip-hop" during the introduction segment.
"It's people who identify as nerdy rapping about the things they love — video games, science fiction, having a hard time meeting romantic partners," Cole explained.
"Losers, in other words," Trebek quipped.
He assured Cole he was "kidding" and the legislative librarian laughed it off — she also won the game and earned $20,600, which probably helped assuage any hard feelings.
The Pygmy Problem
Honestly, we can't blame Trebek for chuckling at contestant Laura Sikes Jambon's story about her pygmy goat in college who "met his demise" after eating a bag of concrete. The amusing way she told the anecdote had the audience laughing first and prompted Trebek to ask, "Was it a 60 pound or an 80-pound bag?"
She balked at everyone's response, telling Trebek he was "being insensitive." To his credit, Trebek replied, "You're right," before skipping poor AJ, the third contestant, altogether.
One of our favorite Trebek moments came in 2017 when he chatted with contestant Elspeth Green, a researcher who said she once trained goldfish to swim through a hoop. Following her complex explanation of the process, the host deadpanned to camera, "Not only do we get smart people as contestants on Jeopardy!, we get some weirdos." Don't worry, there was no beef, as Green seemed to have laughed the loudest at Trebek's comment.
When poor Daniel failed to remember the name of the movie in which Reese Witherspoon portrays singer June Carter (what is Walk the Line?), Trebek, apparently a fan of the film, heckled the contestant with a dry "boo, hiss" before moving on to Emily.
"What's a hoe?"
Ken Jennings, the undisputed GOAT of Jeopardy!, delighted Trebek when he asked, "What's a hoe?" to the prompt: "This term for a long-handled gardening tool can also mean an immoral pleasure seeker." The tawdry guess from the straight-laced competitor caused Trebek to unleash a series of "whoa's" before teasing, "They teach you that in school in Utah, huh?"
After Trebek's death, Jennings shared a photo of himself with the host on set, writing: "Alex wasn’t just the best ever at what he did. He was also a lovely and deeply decent man, and I’m grateful for every minute I got to spend with him."
James Holzhauer, another Jeopardy! champ, tweeted that "it was one of the great privileges of my life to spend time with this courageous man while he fought the battle of his life."