When you are a toddler, watching Jeopardy is as appealing as watching an infomercial. The only thing you were interested in watching was cartoons, sports and Disney movies.
Jeopardy was dull. Who wants to watch a 30-minute long question and answer show? Plus we were young and we didn’t know anything. There was absolutely no point to even think about Jeopardy when we were kids. Also, you wondered why the hell they answered every answer in the form of a question. I still don’t know why they do that actually.
And if you did watch it when you were 9-years-old, then by god, you are a better man than me.
But then we got older. And during the occasional time that Jeopardy was on TV — because maybe our parents or our friend’s parents were watching it — then we would realize that we actually know some of the answers to the questions. Not many though; perhaps we would just know the $200 questions in the beginning. But it was a good feeling when you did know one. It made us realize that we actually know things.
Finally, now that I am in my mid-20s, I enjoy Jeopardy. I don’t DVR it, or make a point to watch it every night as it airs. But if I were flipping through the channels looking for something to watch, and I stumbled upon Jeopardy, I wouldn’t change it.
You realize the simple brilliance of Jeopardy as you age. Like Wheel of Fortune, there’s not a ton of gimmicks and no waste-of-time bullshit. They spend maybe one minute getting to know the contestants and then it’s straight to business.
However, when you think of Jeopardy, the immediate word that comes to your mind is “smart.” And while there’s no question you need to be smart to succeed at Jeopardy, it should not be the end-all be-all to determine intelligence.
Firstly, Jeopardy is not necessarily about knowing things — it’s about knowing things quickly. There are certain people who are capable of breaking down a question, mulling it over, and figuring out a possible answer through logic, reason and process of elimination. Well that won’t suit you in Jeopardy. On this show, you need to know the answer within seconds. It’s about instant recollection, which is a skill in itself.
Also, the material on Jeopardy is completely random. You can be brilliant in the field of physics, but know nothing about opera. If an opera category comes up — you’re screwed. But that doesn’t make you unintelligent, does it? It’s a very esoteric game.
Another thing you have to be able to understand is wordplay and puns. The categories on Jeopardy give you enormous hints to the answers. So you have to always be thinking in terms of that. Therefore, it’s not always about relying on your ability to retain information, but your ability to figure out things based on clues and cute plays on words.
And finally, you need to be up to snuff on pop culture to succeed in Jeopardy. There will often be questions about popular books, movies and celebrities. A 52-year-old algebra teacher from Birmingham, Alabama probably will not know much about Justin Bieber or Fifty Shades of Grey.
So when you calculate all of that, it makes you wonder how much you should use Jeopardy as an actual tool to decipher your own personal intelligence. None of us actually take IQ tests for fun, so Jeopardy is the best we have.
Watching Jeopardy with a large group of friends, meanwhile — now that’s a whole different ballgame. For one thing, there are two types of Jeopardy viewers — the ones who prefer to stay mute, and the ones who guess the first answer off the top of their heads without thinking.
The people who stay mute do so most likely because they become embarrassed when they get answers wrong. It doesn’t mean they don’t know the answers — in fact, they probably know a lot. But they just don’t like looking foolish and answering a question incorrectly. Also, the fear of getting an answer ridiculously wrong is probably something that they are very wary of. Therefore, even when they do know the answer, they don’t say anything. By doing so, they neither come across as smart or dumb — but they don’t give themselves the opportunity to impress people with their intelligence.
Conversely, there’s those who guess at four out of every five questions. Most of the time, they’ll be wrong. The more wrong you are, the less people begin to take you seriously. And of course, there are the assholes — like me — who guess “stupid answers” just for fun. By doing so, you make it seem like you aren’t taking the game seriously, and therefore, when you do actually try and end up guessing wrong, people don’t care as much. It’s a way of saving face and masking your stupidity.
However, if you’re one of those who guesses a lot and actually gets it right most of the time, then damn, you could really impress some people. Whenever this happens it usually makes me think of this person in a whole new light.
It’s also awkward when you’re in a room with someone who often guesses right. At first, you congratulate them. You might say, “Nice job!” or “Way to go!” But then they keep getting it, and you stop congratulating them, and in your head you think, “Alright, save some for other people, asshole.” And it could also make you realize that your friends are a lot smarter than you. Which is something you never want.
Of course, the funniest Jeopardy viewers are the ones who say, “I was going to guess that!” whenever the answer is revealed, or the people who — before the answer is divulged — will put their hand to their head and say, “…Oh I know this!” That’s a cop-out for people who just aren’t smart enough to cut it in Jeopardy. But hey, I’m guilty of it.
So there is a lot that goes into a large-group Jeopardy viewing. By guessing often, you are jeopardizing (pun completely intended) the perception that people may have on you.
In my eyes — who gives a shit? Why not guess aloud? If you’re wrong, you’re wrong. Occasionally, if you guess a lot, you’re going to get one or two answers a game correctly that completely surprises the heck out of people. And in my mind, those moments are worth it.
And what about Alex Trebek? God damn, whenever I watch jeopardy, the thing that never ceases to amaze me is how much that man loves his job. He always points out the little oddities and uniqueness that occur in each game. And why not? The man has seen it all. It’s also humorous when he actually becomes annoyed when neither of the three contestants know an easy answer.
The man just has the physical appearance of a stereotypical “smart guy.” The neat-trimmed haircut, the glasses, the suit and tie, the calm demeanor and impeccable posture. But after hosting that game for so long, and posing question after question — I can’t imagine that no man in this country knows more useless trivia than Alex Trebek. God bless him.
Also, you deserve a medal if you are able to read a Jeopardy question in your head before Trebek finishes reading it. I try to, but I always fail. Damn you Trebek. Damn you and your flawless eloquence.
Alright, I am going to go watch Wheel of Fortune now. Later.