“Jeopardy!” crowns its latest Tournament of Champions winner this week, as Austin David “Buzzy” Cohen wraps up his turn as guest host.
Cohen, 36, knows a thing or two about competing and the nervousness that comes with it: He won nearly $165,000 in 2016, won the 2017 tournament, and returned as a team captain for an all-star event in 2019.
But that’s nothing compared to the awe he felt meeting legendary host Alex Trebek, who died in November at 80 and coined the nickname “Mr. Personality” for Cohen because of his on-set antics.
“I have one really special memory from onstage and one really special memory offstage,” Cohen recalls in a recent interview. “The special memory onstage was during our Tournament of Champions in 2017. Me and the other two finalists had kind of decided on our own to coordinate a little thing during the intro,” where each did the robot dance.
‘Jeopardy!’: ‘It’s the most emotional Tournament of Champions you’ll see’
2017 Tournament of Champions winner Buzzy Cohen, dubbed 'Mr. Personality' by Alex Trebek, hosts the 'Jeopardy!' 2021 tournament, delayed by the pandemic. (Photo: Carol Kaelson/Jeopardy Productions)
“We didn’t tell anybody. We were just having fun. So we did the robot, and he came out walking like a robot,” as the contestants mimicked “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.”
“He said, ‘I’m dealing with three monkeys, you know.’ And he was,” Cohen says.
“He loved having fun, and every opportunity he had to do a funny voice or ham it up a little bit, he took. But he was also so respectful of the show and the contestants. And for me, what that moment really was (giving) him such license to show this other side of himself, and to have fun during our tournament.”
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