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TV Game show host Alex Trebek talks to 4th, 5th, and 6th graders from Atsugi Air Facility as part of his USO Tour on Wednesday. Trebek signed autographs, answered questions and posed for photos after speaking to the children.
TV Game show host Alex Trebek talks to 4th, 5th, and 6th graders from Atsugi Air Facility as part of his USO Tour on Wednesday. Trebek signed autographs, answered questions and posed for photos after speaking to the children. (Christopher B. Stoltz / S&S)

“Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek took some time out of his Thursday morning for a Q-and-A in Yokosuka’s Club Alliance.

Q: What is the dumbest answer/question you’ve ever gotten from a contestant?

A: I have no idea. We’ve done over 5,000 shows and, at my age, I have difficulty remembering last Tuesday. There have been some silly ones though — and a few by celebrities who I won’t mention by name. ... We get a lot of brilliant answers but there are times when people just blow it. We all can do that under pressure.

Q: Military or civilians: Who seems smarter overall in tryouts?

A: That question is unfair. Civilians on military bases who try out are usually very bright and college-educated versus the preponderance of enlisted personnel who aren’t college-educated and missed out on that block of knowledge. Civilians do better in that case, but once you get up into the officer ranks, it’s a different story.

Q: People say Americans are getting dumber. Any evidence of that in your screenings of contestants over the years?

A: I don’t think people are getting dumber. I think they’re getting smarter — but they are also getting lazier. People want their information spoon-fed and would rather research something on the Internet rather than open a book. For most people, reading is a lost pleasure.

Q: What do you think about the “Saturday Night Live” “Jeopardy!” parody? Have you ever met Will Ferrell?

A: I love the parodies. I’ve met Ferrell a few times — he was a guest host — and we have a good time. People think that I should be insulted or ticked off when we’re made fun of, but it just tells me we’ve arrived in Americana. Our theme music is played at sports events. Everyone knows “Can you phrase that in the form of a question?” People know who we are and it’s nice to be a part of America’s cultural scene.

Q: Who was your most memorable contestant and why?

A: Ken Jennings — he was with me for three and a half months. He was the first player to win over 74 shows in a row — I don’t think we’ll ever see a player like that again. He was the perfect contestant, smiling, good-natured and smart. I shed a tear when he finally lost.

Q: What is the most unusual way you’ve heard of a contestant preparing?

A: Former contestant Bob Harris recently came out with a book “Prisoner of Trebekistan” that outlines his way of preparing. He had several theories as to how the patterns emerged. It’s fascinating to see how one individual can prepare. He was a little obsessive, but he won over $100,000.

Q: What’s the wackiest category in Jeopardy?

A: One of our writers on the show (who passed away a couple of years ago) created the category “Wood.” Then there was “Son of Wood.” Then “More Wood.” It was silliness, but it was wonderful and a lot of fun. Our writers are extremely clever and creative people. Another one: “Lucy, You Got Some Spleening to Do” was all about the spleen.

Q: What’s your favorite game show (besides “Jeopardy!”, of course)?

A: I used to like “Hollywood Squares.” In fact, two of their former writers are now producers on our show.

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