The late and beloved Alex Trebek loved the recurring Celebrity Jeopardy! sketches on Saturday Night Live, according to SNL writer, Steve Higgins.
Alex Trebek, the late and widely treasured host of Jeopardy! reportedly loved SNL’s parody sketch of the popular game show. Trebek recently passed away after a lengthy battle with pancreatic cancer, and fans continue to mourn the host for his kind and charismatic persona.
The Celebrity Jeopardy! sketch on SNL followed a long tradition of the famed comedy series utilizing a game show format for laughs. In this particular case, the sketch was a recurring one, with comedian Will Ferrell portraying Trebek, while a range of cast and guest stars did impressions of celebrity contestants such as Sean Connery, Marlon Brando and Bjork. The concept was a basic one, with the stars playing an absurd version of Jeopardy, all while Trebek (Farrell) handled things with a straight face and Ferrell’s inimitable sense of humor. The sketch found instant popularity among both SNL and Jeopardy! fans, and now in the wake of Trebek’s passing, it’s likely to be even more fondly remembered by those who were involved in its actual production as well as those fans who simply appreciate the joke.
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As a matter of fact, the sketch’s popularity could also get a lift from recent news that Trebek loved it too. In a short recounting published at Variety, SNL writer and producer Steve Higgins spoke about the sketch, how it came to be and how he eventually learned that Trebek was a fan of it. Acknowledging that the sketch is the best thing he’s ever done, Higgins admitted that you can’t parody something if you don’t love it, and it’s likely for that reason why everyone involved in the sketch approached it with such enjoyment. Said Higgins:
Trebek told Lorne [Michaels] that he loved the sketch. I was always very happy about that. That would have been terrible, if he’d thought it was anything but love. You really can’t parody something if you don’t love it, or else it’s just mean. Norm and I used to play “Jeopardy!” in his office. It’s just one of those things that is pure goodness. The show is about knowledge and gamesmanship. No one cheats.
Trebek’s iconic status as the host of Jeopardy! embodied a hardworking and dedicated ethic that endeared fans to him even more. After 37 seasons as host of the game show with Trebek, fans won’t ever simply be able to move on to a new host. This isn’t to say that fans won’t accept a new host, just that Jeopardy! will likely forever be synonymous with Trebek. It’s also touching in hindsight to learn that the SNL writers and cast came together to create something that had the purest of intentions – especially since not every SNL sketch is necessarily created with light-hearted teasing in mind.
For those who never got the opportunity to see the Celebrity Jeopardy! sketches when they originally aired on SNL, there’s no shortage of opportunity to find them online. In light of Trebek’s passing, the sketches remain a happy reminder of just what sort of impact Trebek and Jeopardy! had on pop culture over the years. The world may have lost a highly unique public figure in Trebek, but SNL’s sketches are just one way in which he’ll live on.
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