Celebrity Jeopardy- Semifinal One


Celebrity Jeopardy is a prime-time spinoff of the beloved game show in which celebrities compete to win money for a charity of their choice. The games are hosted by actress Mayim Bialik and fill an hour time slot rather than the traditional half-hour. To fill the time, a round of “Triple Jeopardy” has been added to the Single and Double Jeopardy rounds. The Single Jeopardy clue values range from $100 to $500. These are doubled in Double Jeopardy and tripled in Triple Jeopardy. The amount of Daily Double clues also accrues in the same fashion. The clues are, as one would imagine, significantly easier than the traditional Jeopardy game. Twenty seven celebrities compete in nine quarterfinal rounds. The winners of each game move on to the semifinals and the winners of the semifinals move on to the finals. One game is played weekly. In this article, I will be discussing the first three quarterfinal games and the first semifinal.


The contestants of the first quarterfinal were Shang-Chi actor Simu Liu, SNL cast member Ego Nwodim, and Conan O’ Brian’s longtime sidekick Andy Richter. Andy had appeared on Celebrity Jeopardy twice before, first beating actors S. Epatha Merkerson and Brian Dennehy, then winning $68,000 against Wolf Blitzer and Dana Delany. This game was remembered for Wolf Blitzer’s terrible performance as much as the standout effort from Richter. The Single Jeopardy round was dominated by Andy Richter, as he put in 19 correct answers and only one incorrect answer. At the end of the round, Simu Liu had $1,200, Ego Nwodim had $700, and Richter had $5,500. The game began to even out in the second round as Simu and Ego came on strong, finishing with $5,600 and $5,500, respectively. Richter forged ahead, ending with $13,300. After the final round, Simu finished with $11,600, Ego had $10,000, and Richter had $21,100 but did not secure the runaway victory. This would come back to haunt him in Final Jeopardy as Simu got the question correct and doubled his score. Andy did not, costing him $2,200 and the game. If only he had known that the smallest landlocked country is Vatican City.


The second quarterfinal game was played by the author and chef Eddie Huang, bandleader of the James Corden show and Taskmaster in the U.S. spinoff of the popular British panel show Taskmaster Reggie Watts, and comedian Iliza Shlesinger. In the Single Jeopardy round, Watts got off to a rough start, forgetting that a condor is not a mammal. Six minutes into the show, he had put on a German accent. Eddie Huang decided to wear sunglasses indoors and Iliza seemed uncertain of herself. After the round, Eddie had $1,300, Watts had $900, and Iliza had $2,500. The Double Jeopardy round was fairly even, with Iliza cashing in on a Daily Double to maintain her lead. This round, Watts played with a French accent and was surprisingly good at the French category. He confused Mayim Bialik by including “la tour Eiffel” as an answer, but after a review was given the points. Eddie proclaimed himself an expert on Las Vegas and proved it in the Vegas category. At the end of the round, Eddie sat on $5,700, Watts finished with $4,700, and Iliza maintained her lead with $6,600. In Triple Jeopardy, Watts went back to his German accent. Former champion Austin Rogers presented a bartending category and was profusely ridiculed by the contestants. Iliza was the only one who made an impact, finishing the round with $13,300. Watts stayed on $4,700, and Eddie ended on $7,200. The category for Final Jeopardy was 19th Century Literature. Iliza was the only one close, guessing the correct answer: Jekyll and Hyde. Watts guessed the 1991 film Thelma and Louise, and Eddie guessed the popular television series, Peaky Blinders. Iliza moved on to the semi-final with a total of $14,401. 


The last spot of the first semifinal was up for grabs in the next game. It was played by former Fab Five member and ESPN basketball analyst Jalen Rose, former Mad TV actor and comedian Ike Barinholtz, and Crazy Rich Asians lead Constance Wu. Ike got off to a strong start, controlling the board and finishing the round with $3,700. Constance was hit or miss, getting six clues correct and six incorrect. She finished the round with -$800. Jalen Rose got the Daily Double wrong and finished the round with $500. He seemed to misunderstand the clue, which is becoming a theme of Celebrity Jeopardy. Ike’s second round was about as impressive as one could do, answering twenty-one questions correctly and adding two Daily Doubles. He finished the round at $21,600. Constance got herself out of the negative, ending the round at $200. Jalen failed to make an impact, not buzzing in at all. He remained in second place. In Triple Jeopardy, Ike continued his effort with sixteen correct clues and finished with $37,200. Constance bet it all on two Daily Doubles, getting both correct. She finished with $23,000. Jalen got his only two answers wrong and finished in the negative. However, he was given $1,000 to compete in Final Jeopardy. The answer ended up being the Titanic in the category of Newspaper Headlines. Jalen did not get it and risked it all, as did Constance. Ike, however, did get it correct and finished the game with a very impressive $44,601. He also gave fifty-one correct responses and zero incorrect responses. His win set up a Marvel/DC crossover between Shang-Chi and Captain Griggs from 2016’s Suicide Squad. As far as I know, Iliza Shlesinger has not been in a superhero movie.


The semi-final matchup between Simu Liu, Ike Barinholtz, and Iliza Shlesinger was the best of the early Celebrity Jeopardy games. The Single Jeopardy round established a quick pace and got Ike a quick laugh by teeing up a joke about a certain former president. There was a question about mustard that reminded me of an old SNL Celebrity Jeopardy sketch(In my opinion, this Celebrity Jeopardy could use an antagonistic character á la Sean Connery). The end-of-round scores were $6,000 for Barinholtz, $1,400 for Simu, and $1,700 for Iliza. The Double Jeopardy round was fairly nondescript and followed the pattern established by the previous round. The end-of-round scores for Double Jeopardy were $12,200 for Barinholtz, $4,000 for Simu, and $3900 for Iliza. Triple Jeopardy led to a moment of levity on a Daily Double in which the correct answer was the Energizer Bunny and Iliza guessed the Duracell Rabbit. I did not know that the Duracell Rabbit actually does exist and was the predecessor of the Energizer Bunny. The Energizer Bunny was made to parody the Duracell Rabbit, and Duracell ended up suing Energizer for trademark infringement. Other than that, Ike was still dominant, ending with $20,300. Simu had $10,000 and Iliza had $11,300. The Final Jeopardy was a question about Burning Man and Iliza risked it all and got it wrong. Simu doubled his score and Ike hit the cover bet, winning the game with $22,601. 


Ike advanced to the final on the back of two very impressive performances. He gave ninety correct answers and only one incorrect answer. His competition remains to be seen but one would think that Ike is the favorite to win the whole thing.