Which makes being the host — where you’re reading the clues, running the game and adding in occasional commentary — an especially daunting task. So to prepare for that role, Buzzy Cohen started doing something he had largely abandoned when the pandemic hit: exercise.
“I started working out to get my stamina up,” Cohen, who won the “Tournament of Champions” in 2017, told “Jeopardy!” producers. “I know how long these tape days are and how focused and attentive the host really needs to be. ... You’ve got to be really focused and have your stamina up.”
So far, that approach seems to be paying off. The 2021 “Tournament of Champions” is underway, and Cohen has quickly become a fan favorite to replace Trebek. A tweet of support from 2015 “Tournament of Champions” winner Alex Jacob has more than 1,000 likes and nearly 1,000 retweets.
Cohen — who became well known for his humor and witty responses during his initial run on “Jeopardy!” in 2016 — was visibly emotional as he opened up about getting the opportunity to host during a recent interview with “Jeopardy!” producers.
“I don’t have words for this,” he said. “I stood on this stage four years ago and I told Alex with all love and admiration that I would love to host this show that I love so much, and I can’t believe that I got that shot.”
Trebek endearingly dubbed Cohen “Mr. Personality” in 2016. But for all of Cohen’s enthusiasm and antics, the contestant-turned host said he has struggled with depression and that his “Jeopardy!” debut came at a much needed time in his life.
“Being on ‘Jeopardy!’ showed that when I really put my mind to it, I had something to offer that no one could take away,” Cohen recently told “The View.” “I think when you’re struggling with depression, it can be so easy to discount the things that you contribute to — whether it’s your family or work or your community — and either give the credit to someone else or say it’s really not that special. I was very lucky in that I had this amazing accomplishment on ‘Jeopardy!’ that I could always point to and say, ‘No, you know what? You did that. No one can take that away from you.’”
“I know not everyone can have that,” he continued. “But I hope that we can all find something in our lives to help pull us out of that dark place.”
Cohen will host the “Tournament of Champions” through May 28 — although he told USA Today that he would take the position permanently “in a heartbeat.”
The quarterfinal round will continue through Friday. Nine contestants will then advance to the semifinals May 24-26, with three players then facing off in a two-day championship on May 27 and 28, the Deseret News reported.