There might not be anyone more willing to laugh at himself than television quiz show host Alex Trebek.
Parodied and imitated for years since becoming the face of iconic game show Jeopardy!, the Canadian-born television personality has more than taken it in his stride. He’s laughed along.
But there’s one comedian he feels that captured his personality, facial expressions, and “Trebekisms” better than anyone. And it wasn’t SNL‘s Will Ferrell.
Will Ferrell’s almost-perfect imitation of Alex Trebek
While on Saturday Night Live from from 1996 to 2002, Will Ferrell took on the role of Alex Trebek in Jeopardy! Audiences loved Ferrell’s impersonation of Trebek so much, the actor continued the parody even when he returned to guest host the show.
Trebek, speaking to The Hollywood Reporter in 2012, praised Ferrell’s performances saying, “Love them! Oh I loved them, but they don’t do them anymore because Will Ferrell is no longer a regular on the show, and he used to portray me.”
“Even after I had shaved my mustache,” Trebek continued, “he was portraying me with a mustache. I was on his last regular show, and I did a little cameo appearance, and yeah, I told him how much I enjoyed his work as me on the program, and he was quite taken that I had noticed… I wish he was back on the show so he would do more.”
The comedian who has Alex Trebek down to an art
There must be something about Trebek that inspires parody. When he was working in his native Canada on the quiz show, Reach for the Top from 1966 to 1973, perhaps it was his crisp delivery and poised demeanor that motivated Canadian comedy troupe to consistently imitate him on Second City Television.
The host told the Television Academy Foundation in 2007, “Eugene Levy, I mean, I maintain to this day did the best Alex Trebek. Ever. Better than Will Ferrell. [Levy] looked more of the part, too. He had the dark hair and the black mustache.”
“It was so funny. I thought, ‘My gosh, these guys are so bright.’”
Alex Trebek knows how to laugh at himself
In his memoir, The Answer Is…, Trebek spoke on the experience of having professional actors and comedians imitate him. Many others would be sensitive about the gesture.
The 80-year-old television personality said in his book, “Being parodied means you’ve arrived.”
“If a comedian decides to do a takeoff of you,” he wrote, “it’s a sign that they believe your audience will immediately recognize who they are poking fun at. And if that’s the case, that must mean there are a lot of people who have watched your show over the years or are watching now. They know immediately what the reference is.”
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