Ken Jennings' stint as the first guest host of "Jeopardy!" begins on Monday — and to hear him tell it, stepping into the late Alex Trebek's shoes wasn't easy.
"It goes beyond nerves. It was a very intense and nerve-wracking experience to be behind this lectern," Jennings says in a promo video the game show shared Monday on Twitter.
Ken has come a long way from his contestant days. Here are Ken's thoughts from behind the lectern as first in a series of guest hosts. pic.twitter.com/0HaxSv8mmW
— Jeopardy! (@Jeopardy) January 11, 2021
Now that he's filmed several episodes filling in for Trebek, Jennings says he's even more in awe of Trebek's hosting skills. "The main thing I learned is just what an impressive, perfect job Alex Trebek did behind this lectern for 36, 37 years," he shares in the promo.
"I thought I had studied the man and I understood just what a remarkable job he was doing, keeping the game going, mastering his sense that he understood all the clues — because he did — explaining it to the audience ... and then when I had to do it, I realized he was doing 10 things I wasn't aware of for every one that I saw," he adds.
Jennings holds the all-time "Jeopardy!" records for most consecutive games won (74) and highest winnings in regular-season play ($2,520,700).
The best piece of advice he's gotten about hosting "Jeopardy!" came from his wife, Mindy, he reveals in the promo video.
"I called home after the first five shows I'd recorded as guest host and she said, 'How'd it go?' And I said, 'Listen, I'm obviously no Alex Trebek.' And she was very kind. She said, 'Well, of course not. But do you think you might stand up to what he did on his first day?'" says Jennings.
"And I thought, 'Oh, that's a nice way of looking at it.' I haven't had 37 years of practice. So she taught me to maybe be a little more forgiving of myself."
Once Jennings' hosting stint ends, "Jeopardy!" will feature more interim guest hosts. The show has yet to announce a new permanent host.