‘Jeopardy’ contestant loses game but wins Internet

18 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

I Made Alex Trebek Say ‘Turd Ferguson’.

As Alex Trebek read Talia Lavin’s now (in)famous response of “What is the Love Ballad of Turd Ferguson?” to Final Jeopardy, a mischievous smile broke across the 26-year-old writer’s face and she gave two thumbs-up.

On the famous “Saturday Night Live” parody of “Jeopardy!” contestants were constantly attempting to get a rise out of Will Ferrell’s “Alex Trebek” — be it “Sean Connery” deliberately misreading “THERAPISTS” as “the rapists” or “WHO READS” as “whore ads,” or “Burt Reynolds” insisting that he be called “Turd Ferguson” — but on the actual show yesterday, life imitated parody as Talia Lavin spent the majority of the episode vigorously fiddling with her buzzer and providing hilariously off-kilter answers, including a “Final Jeopardy!” question for the ages. However, the Burt Reynolds character demands Trebek call him “Turd Ferguson.” During the “Final Jeopardy” round on Wednesday night’s episode of the syndicated game show, a contestant named Talia did not know the correct answer to the last question and used the opportunity to zing Trebek. Not since IBM’s Watson computer handed human contestants’ asses to them on a silver platter had the 50-plus-year-old game show earned so much national attention. “I had only 30 seconds to think of a joke that was clean enough to make it on the air.

In the final round of Wednesday’s episode, participants were presented with the question, “This song from a 1999 animated film about censorship had a word censored from its Oscar performance.” (The answer is “Blame Canada” from the film “South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut,” by the way.) It’s unknown how Trebek felt about the joke, but Lavin retweeted multiple responses to her performance on Twitter and told The Huffington Post that it was worth it. But Lavin, fortunately, is by no means the first Jeopardy! contestant to take the agony of game-show defeat and turn it into a triumph for all humanity.

Turd Ferguson refers to the 1990s “Celebrity Jeopardy!” sketches from Saturday Night Live, in which Will Ferrell’s Trebek was accosted by Norm Macdonald’s version of Burt Reynolds. In the classic skit, Will Ferrell plays Trebek and Norm Macdonald poses as Burt Reynolds, whose character insists on calling himself “Turd Ferguson” because “it’s a funny name.” In one famous rendition, Reynolds decides he’s going to change his name to Turd Ferguson while also wearing a giant foam hat (it’s funny because it’s bigger than a normal hat, he explains).

Lavin, a Fulbright Fellow, a fact-checker at The New Yorker, and a friend of this reporter, spoke to The Daily Beast about what Trebek smells like, Twitter trolls already harassing her, and the one question she regrets missing. Norm Macdonald made a cameo appearance during SNL’s 40th anniversary episode, where the name and the floppy hat were brought back for a brief moment. Setting: February 2011 (the episode that found Jennings, who provided the correct “Final Jeopardy!” answer, still losing to the supercomputer Watson) The joke is beloved from the throwback sketches in which Macdonald called himself Turd Ferguson (because it was a “funny name.”) Meanwhile, Lavin — a former staffer at HuffPost — told the site about her Internet-friendly response. “I love Norm Macdonald, and think giant styrofoam hats are funny,” she said. “I’m honored to be trending on [Facebook] with my homeslices Iggy Azalea and Jeb Bush.” While she didn’t walk away with the cash prize, Lavin was still a winner. “I won the Internet,” she shared. “Which is way better than many thousands of dollars.” Well, I was like, “That’s a compliment to Bobby Moynihan.” Instead of telling me I should take a seat, someone told me that I should take several.

I think my favorite tweet was from someone who wrote, “I pray to baby Jesus that Talia finds her chill.” Someone made an Instagram collage of all my sad buzzer faces.

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