I got the memo about Alex Trebek potentially leaving Jeopardy! in 2016, and that sent my mind into a frenzy (accompanied by the ping-pang-pow sound effect of a Daily Double). Alex Trebek’s name is synonymous with Jeopardy! for a reason: He is an astoundingly great host who knows so much trivia and loves the learning process. You might think his knack for accents and correcting contestants is pretentious or annoying, but that discipline is so essential to the dignity and respect of the show’s difficult material. Hell, this man hosts the National Geography Bee every year. He is a TV legend and it pains me to think of him departing the series.
But the task becomes a little bit easier when I think of some of the qualified people who could replace him. A few names have been thrown about loudly — particularly Matt Lauer‘s and Anderson Cooper‘s — but I’m ranking the ten best possibilities regardless of what’s being speculated. Here they are: The ten worthiest future Jeopardy! hosts.
10. Ben Bailey
I’m a big fan of the old game show host pool, when people like Tom Kennedy, Bert Convy, and Bill Cullen hosted plenty of different game shows before settling on signature programs. I’d like to keep that tradition alive by inviting the successful, Emmy-winning host of a recent quiz show phenom, Cash Cab, and inviting him to try his chops on the definitive trivia experience. Cash Cab featured difficult material, but the reason the show worked was because of the smart, yet down-to-Earth presentation of its host, Ben Bailey. Bailey was stuck hosting the recent failure Who’s Still Standing, so I think he’s earned his chance at the Jeopardy! lectern.
9. Pat Sajak
Believe it or not, Pat Sajak hosted Jeopardy! once before. On the April Fools’ Day episode in 1997, he exchanged hosting duties with Trebek (who took over on Wheel of Fortune that day), and he did a pretty killer job with Q&A responsibilities. Sajak is supposedly smart (he’s a Mensa member!), despite his op ed dabbling in right wing politics. Still, to his credit he’s probably the most underrated funnyman on TV. He has serious off-the-cuff comic chops, and within every single episode of Wheel, he unleashes numerous witticisms that are often biting without being mean. If it’s possible to pull double duty on Wheel and Jeopardy!, Sajak is the man to do it.
8. Mark McGrath
Seem strange? Not to me. The Sugar Ray frontman and Extra host proved his trivia mettle as a celebrity contestant on Rock & Roll Jeopardy! more than once, creaming his competition. McGrath knows a lot of music trivia and, based on how great he is at providing commentary on VH1′s various talking-head shows, seems to appreciate knowing a lot of information. The USC grad is also chummy in just the right way, and it’d be fun to see him in a daily format where he could prove his intelligence constantly.