Buzzy Cohen returned to the Jeopardy! stage Monday night, though this time he wasn't a contestant. As the long-running game show kicked off the first night of the 2021 Tournament of Champions, Cohen stepped in as the latest Jeopardy! guest host, and he didn't hesitate to pay subtle tribute to the late Alex Trebek, who hosted Jeopardy! for 37 seasons before his death in November 2020.
As Jason Zuffranieri, an Albuquerque, New Mexico, math teacher; University of Minnesota student Nibir Sarma; and Jennifer Quail, a Michigan wine-tasting consultant competed Monday night, Cohen paid tribute to Trebek in a moment some viewers may have missed. At one point in the show, Cohen said, "Good for you!" Jeopardy! fans will recall that the simple phrase was commonly used by Trebek as he spoke to contestants in "meet the players" segments.
Cohen is just the latest guest host to take the stage as the game show searches for a permanent replacement. Speaking with USA Today ahead of his Monday night guest-hosting debut, Cohen reflected on how the stint fulfills "a funny exchange" he and Trebek had during his 2017 tournament win. He told the outlet that he and the late host "had a funny exchange about my interest in potentially hosting someday when he retired." As such, "the folks over at Jeopardy! knew that it's a dream of mine," though Cohen admitted that he "didn't think anything would come of it, and I certainly wasn't calling Sony, being like, 'Hey, can I get a shoutout?'" Cohen said that as he takes the stage for the next two weeks, he is going to do his best to "embody" Trebek.
"For me, [hosting is] about being reverent to the clues, being reverent to the contestants. I think that was what Alex was good at, and what I really tried to embody, was when there are moments where you can bring levity, I do it," he said. "But certainly, there's Buzzy as a contestant and Buzzy as a host: It's a different role, and there's a different responsibility."
As for his future on the show? Cohen said he would say yes "in a heartbeat" if he was offered a permanent hosting position. He said he would "love to be the host of this show that I've loved since I was, like, 9 years old and is such a part of who I am."