‘Jeopardy!’ Researcher Admits Celebrity Questions Are Easier, but Not Because Celebrities Aren’t Smart Enough

Celebrity Jeopardy! has become such a joke that Saturday Night Live has a recurring sketch where famous people can’t answer the simplest questions. The people who write the questions for Jeopardy! are aware of this stigma. They concede that there is a difference between Celebrity Jeopardy! and the game for regular contestants, but it’s not because celebrities aren’t smart. 

Celebrity 'Jeopardy': John Michael Higgins, Wil Wheaton and Joel Kim Booster stand at their podiums
L-R: John Michael Higgins, Wil Wheaton, and Joel Kim Booster | Tyler Golden/ABC via Getty Images

Jeopardy! head researcher Suzanne Stone appeared on the Hollywood and Levine podcast on June 29 to discuss her 38 years on the show. When it came to Celebrity Jeopardy!, Stone explained why they have to soften the questions for special episodes. 

Celebrity ‘Jeopardy!’ doesn’t want to stump the contestants

Jeopardy! wants contestants to win but they don’t want to make it too easy. When it comes to Celebrity Jeopardy! they definitely want to make the special guests look good. But, they also want to donate large prizes to charity.

“A lot of the contestants who are celebrities are well educated and keep up,” Stone said on Hollywood and Levine. “They could probably do very well in the regular games. But because the shows that are celebrities, they’re playing for charities, their favorite charities. We want everyone to look good. And also we want the audience to be fascinated by what responses they have so there’s a mix in the material. You’ll have nuclear physics as Jason Alexander picked and you’re going to have Oscar fashions and things like that, classic TV. That’s a good thing I think, a good balance for the celebrities.”

Celebrity ‘Jeopardy!’ also has more showbiz topics 

Stone also acknowledged that when celebrities play Jeopardy!, the fans tuning in are already interested in show business. So they do emphasize more celebrity questions.  

“Especially when it comes to Celebrity Jeopardy! shows, you’re always going to have that celebrity angle,” Stone said. “So you have to keep up on your People magazine, your Page Six, your gossip columns, TMZ,  your whatever to see what the names are out there.”

Cher remains a popular subject for both regular and Celebrity Jeopardy!

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“But Cher is eternal,” Stone said. “She’s a goddess so we can always do a Cher clue.”

Suzanne Stone forgives poor performing celebrities 

Ken Levine brought up CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer, who gave a notoriously poor showing on Celebrity Jeopardy! However, Stone gave context for the hardships Blitzer was under. That could explain it, and unfortunately it is common for celebrities to only be available for Jeopardy! when they are not at their best. 

“He did not do well at all which I think to this day people still ask about,” Stone said. “I don’t know if he was exhausted from the flight from back east or whatever. Usually, the celebrity shows were taped on weekends when people would be free, especially when they’re on a current television show. So I don’t know but yeah, Wolf Blitzer’s name comes up.”