Buzzy Cohen reminded Jeopardy! fans why they liked him when he competed on the long-running game show during Monday night's episode. Cohen took over as the next guest host this week, but he is not hosting just any Jeopardy! game. The former champion is hosting this year's Tournament of Champions, which continues through May 28. Fans enjoyed Cohen's first episode, with many calling him the best guest host so far.
Cohen, 36, won six games in a row in 2016, then won the 2017 Tournament of Champions. In April, Jeopardy! executive producer Mike Richards announced he would host the first tournament since Alex Trebek's death in November 2020. Like past tournaments, it will feature 15 recent winners, as well as the winners from the most recent Teachers and College Championships. The winner receives a $250,000 grand prize, which Jeopardy! is matching for a donation to the Hope of the Valley Trebek Center for the Homeless. There will also be a tribute to the late Brayden Smith, who was the last big winner during Trebek's episodes.
Trebek liked Cohen as much as fans do, even nicknaming the Los Angeles-based commercial music producer "Mr. Personality." The two even joked about Cohen hosting whenever Trebek would retire. "Alex and I had a funny exchange about my interest in potentially hosting someday when he retired, so the folks over at Jeopardy! knew that it's a dream of mine," Cohen recently told USA Today. "I didn't think anything would come of it, and I certainly wasn't calling Sony, being like, 'Hey, can I get a shoutout?'" While Cohen's dream did become a reality, it means he cannot compete again as a contestant.
You nailed it, Buzzy! Congratulations!— profraj1978 (@profraj1978) May 18, 2021
During an interview Jeopardy! released before Monday's episode, Cohen said he prepared for the show by working out. After all, filming Jeopardy! can be surprisingly strenuous. "I know how long these tape days are and how focused and attentive the host really needs to be," he explained. "You're reading clues, you're directing traffic, you're refereeing, you're giving color commentary. So you've gotta be really focused and have your stamina up."prevnext
The first night of the tournament featured Sarah Jett Rayburn of Hutto, Texas; Ryan Bilger of Macungie, Pennsylvania; and Jason Zuffranieri of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Zuffranieri was a 19-game winner, so the other contestants had their work cut out for them at the beginning. However, Bilger came out on top, with a score of $32,405.prevnext
Best Jeopardy! guest host yet!!! Great job Buzzy!— tom pickens (@twpickens) May 18, 2021
The other contestants taking part in the tournament are Andy Wood, Nibir Sarma, Karen Farrell, Ryan Hemmel, Sam Kavanaugh, Kevin Walsh, Mackenzie Jones, Veronica Vichit-Vadakan, Jennifer Quail, Steve Moulds, Paul Trifiletti, and Ben Henri.prevnext
#Jeopardy Out of all the guest hosts, I like Buzzy Cohen the best. I like his voice, his personality his appearance; all the others didn’t do as well as Buzzy. Keep him!— Carol Baldessari (@KOOCHIEKOOKOO) May 17, 2021
This tournament was a challenge to stage with the pandemic. Richards had to call back contestants from across the country. Most episodes during the pandemic have featured contestants from the Los Angeles area. There was still no studio audience for the tournament though.prevnext
He's definitely one of the frontrunners right away. Smart, good cadence, great personality and a hint of seriousness when it really mattered. All the things that can matter in finding a replacement.— mark northcott (@markgnorthcott) May 18, 2021
Richards said the production took over an "entire hotel" that was closed while filming the tournament. "That was how intensely we took this process, so it was great to pull off," he told USA Today. "You could tell from the folks that hadn't been here in two years because some of these champions have been around for a really long time. At this point, they were so happy to be back. It's the most emotional tournament of champions I think you'll see."prevnext
IMHO you just found your next host! Great voice, great pacing, great responses and a good use of vocal variety.— Cuthbert Hawkwood (@cuthbertofhw) May 18, 2021
I felt he brought back some excitement into the game.
When asked if he would want to host Jeopardy! permanently, Cohen told USA Today he would take the job "in a heartbeat." Cohen added, "I'd 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."prev