Mayim Bialik Talks Trickiness Of Hosting Jeopardy, And How She Thinks She'd Do As Contestant

Jeopardy! will very likely never find a replacement host that strikes the same universally appreciated chords as Alex Trebek, but the current combo of hosts for Season 38The Big Bang Theory vet Mayim Bialik and GOAT champ Ken Jennings — has been about as favorable as one could hope for. (At least when far removed from the Mike Richards controversy that sparked the shared duties.) Having recently returned for Jeopardy!’s Professors Tournament, Bialik opened up a bit about the complications that go into her hosting duties, and also explained why she probably wouldn’t be the best competition for the show’s contestants.

Mayim Bialik appeared as a guest on Live with Kelly and Ryan, though only remotely, as the morning chat show shifted back from in-studio broadcasts to home-based set-ups due to rising cases of the Omicron variant. When Ryan Seacrest asked her about the trickiness tied to hosting the long-running game show, here’s how she responded:

It's unbelievable. I mean, it is super fun and I love it, but it is non-stop thinking, talking, having someone in your ear, constantly calculating. I mean, if you think it's hard for the contestants to know all those things, imagine having to read them all those things. It's very difficult. [Laughs.]

She did appear to be saying that last bit with some genial sarcastic hubris, as opposed to sincerely making herself sound more put-upon than contestants in the hot seats. (Okay, they’re not sitting, but still.) Her point is still a salient one, though. Especially considering Jeopardy! tapes five episodes in a row over the course of a single day, which obviously means five installments’ worth of correct pronunciations, esoteric facts, new contestants and more for Bialik (and others) to go through. Not the best gig for anyone who self-describes as scatterbrained, I’d think. 

To that end, even though Mayim Bialik is regularly handling this constant influx of information, that doesn’t mean she thinks she would actually do well against the show’s brainy contestants. When Kelly Ripa asked Bialik what percentage of the clues she knows before the players do, the Call Me Kat star offered a hyperbolically low number, but explained why she’s in awe of those competing. 

About one. If there's a science category, obviously. I do really well with biblical history. But other than that, the kind of knowledge these contestants have, it is so phenomenal. It's so specific. But also they have to do everything under pressure. If you give me 10 minutes, I could maybe figure out a question.

After Kelly Ripa brought up how much the contestants’ stress tends to come across through the frantic way their thumbs jam down on the button when ringing in, Bialik agreed that the maneuver is a talent in its own right, saying: 

I mean, that's the thing. It's doing it under pressure. With all of that stuff going on, it is an extra set of skill just to be able to hit that little button.

At this point, not everyone is overly impressed with Mayim Bialik as a host, which also goes for some behind-the-scenes reports, but I think expecting any replacement to be amazing right out of the gate is reaching. Especially for someone like Bialik who is balancing the Jeopardy! tapings with her Fox sitcom Call Me Kat and her successful weekly podcast Mayim Bialik’s Breakdown, on top of spending time with her family. Granted, it’s a gig she’s voluntarily opting into, but that doesn’t make it any easier to conquer. 

Jeopardy! airs weekdays in syndication, with Bialik and Jennings tag-teaming for the remainder of Season 38. Fans can also find Live with Kelly and Ryan airing weekday mornings. Check your local listings to see when and where both are airing in your area, and head to our 2022 Summer TV schedule to see what new and returning shows are on the way soon!

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.