Alex Trebek, the Sudbury-born, Ottawa-educated host of the long-running TV game show, Jeopardy!, is coming to Ottawa Thursday to accept a gold medal from the Canadian Geographical Society for his work in the field of geography.
You’ve been called the smartest man in the world. What do you have to say about that?
If it’s a subject I’m interested in, I’m more likely to remember a fact or a clue, but if it’s not one of my interests, it goes out of my mouth and is gone forever. But I must remember some of it, because we tape our shows quite a bit in advance and on occasion, I’ll watch it and recall quite a bit of it. I’m not a genius, but I’m fairly well-educated and well read.
You’ve been the host of Jeopardy for 27 years. What’s that like?
I have the best of both possible worlds. I’m working in a familiar environment and I’m comfortable in the format, but we get new clues and new contestants. I’m challenged in the newness of everyday.
Why do you think Jeopardy! is so successful?
It’s hard to watch and not play along. It’s addictive. When a clue comes up, you’re challenged and you want to respond. If you can get it out before the contestant, that’s even better.
You’re a uOttawa grad. Have you been back to Ottawa since?
I was back about a month ago to attend the first-ever high school reunion of the University of Ottawa Prep in the 1950s. I always look forward to coming back. This time, my wife is coming with me and it will be an opportunity to enjoy a city we really like and walk around.
What’s one thing that would surprise people about you?
I refer to myself as Mr. Sprinkler Man because I like to work around the house. Today my project is to discover where my swimming pool is leaking.
How do you feel about receiving this award?
“I’m very touched by and honoured by this award. I’m a proponent of geography education… but I think they’re being overly generous to an old Canadian who likes to travel.