Saturday Night Live paid tribute to Alex Trebek by posting a classic clip of Trebek crashing a Celebrity Jeopardy parody sketch. On Sunday, word broke that Trebek had passed away after battling stage 4 pancreatic cancer for nearly two years. Fans and colleagues alike have since flooded social media with messages of tribute, and SNL has further honored Trebek by tweeting footage of the Jeopardy host's surprise appearance in a 2002 episode of the show.
For years, longtime SNL performer Will Ferrell portrayed Alex Trebek in a series of Celebrity Jeopardy parodies. Most every episode also featured Darrell Hammond as Sean Connery, placing a particular emphasis on their ongoing feud. When it came time for Ferrell to leave SNL in 2002, he appeared in one last Celebrity Jeopardy spoof, and the moment called for bringing in Trebek himself to give his parody version a proper send-off.
"And so this was the final Jeopardy!," Trebek tells Ferrell as he steps out onto the stage. Of course, Sean Connery can't help but take some verbal jabs at both Trebeks before the two simultaneously wave goodnight to the viewers.
In an interview about the sketches filmed years ago, Trebek spoke further about the SNL sketches, revealing that he was flattered by parodies.
"I loved them," Trebek explained. "It means you've arrived. If you do a take-off of somebody, it is a sign that you believe your audience will immediately recognize who you're poking fun at. And if that's the case, that means there must be a lot of people who have watched your show over the years or are watching now. So, they know immediately what the reference is. You're popular not only because of your own show, but the take-offs and mentions on other shows."
Coincidentally, Trebek's death comes just over a week after Sean Connery passed away at the age of 90. At the time, Hammond opened up about portraying Connery in the popular Celebrity Jeopardy sketches. Although he admits that the very premise of the impression is nonsensical, Hammond acknowledged the immense popularity of the ongoing sketches.
"It makes no sense that Sean Connery doesn't know the answers on Jeopardy!," Hammond said. "It makes no sense that Sean Connery hates Alex Trebek. And it makes no sense that he's a homophobe... It doesn't make any sense. And yet it's easily the most popular thing I've ever done."
When Trebek was first diagnosed, he insisted on remaining the host of Jeopardy!, despite the struggles he endured with his ongoing cancer treatments. After reaching the first year of survival in March, Trebek posted a video online updating fans on his condition. Although he spoke about the difficulties he continued to face, Trebek planned to continue hosting for as long as he physically could with no immediate plans of stepping down. With safety measures put in place, he had continued to work until recent months, and many new episodes will be aired posthumously. His final episode as the host of Jeopardy! will air on Christmas Day. The clip of Trebek crashing Celebrity Jeopardy comes to us from Saturday Night Live on Twitter.