How TV Editing Makes Competing on ‘Jeopardy!’ Look Quite Different Than It Actually Is

Many trivia enthusiasts play along with Jeopardy! from home. However, only a select few get to compete on the show, meet Alex Trebek, and have the chance to win thousands of dollars. From the comfort of our coaches, Jeopardy! may look like a well-oiled machine, but t’s not so seamless behind-the-scenes

Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek
‘Jeopardy!’ Host Alex Trebek | Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

The filming of Jeopardy! often experiences hiccup that viewers never get a chance to see. Let’s go through what it’s like to stand on that stage, behind that podium, with your hand ready to hit the buzzer. 

What editing keeps hidden about ‘Jeopardy!’ 

According to The Week, not everything on Jeopardy! is “as it seems on TV.” Someone who has been on the inside relayed the information — former contestant Terri Pous.

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For starters, Trebek sometimes stumbles over his words; he is human! He is not a robot incapable of making a mistake, though it often seems that way to viewers at home. The board also malfunctions every now and again. And, despite all the years the tech team has had to perfect the system, it still happens! 

Competitors also contest answers more often than you would think, and the discussion aspect inherent to a contestation is removed from the show, as it would likely add too much time to the half-hour program. While recording, frequent 10 to 15-minute breaks occur for the review board to debate answers. 

Interviews can also be a little awkward if contestants don’t plan out what exactly they’re going to say and/or aren’t prepared for Trebek’s follow-up questions. Furthermore, it can sometimes be quite difficult for those competing to see the clues. According to Pous, they really appear in those small boxes on the board, which can be difficult to see from the podiums across the stage. “I found myself hunched over and squinting a lot,” Pous said.

If you plan to compete on ‘Jeopardy!’…

In short, if you’ve gone through the online application process and all the other steps it takes to make it on to Jeopardy!, meet Alex Trebek, and compete on the show, be ready for some unplanned detours.

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Be ready for long breaks to discuss answers. Be ready to squint to see the screen. Don’t forget that the board may malfunction. Also, Alex Trebek may trip over a question or two. While it’s important to come ready — with all the studying you could possible imagine behind you – you should also be ready for the non-trivia aspects inherent to the show. It can be easy for an unplanned occurrence to throw you for a loop or distract you, causing you to slip up a bit. So, remember: not everything is as it seems on TV.