Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

The Complete History of 'SNL's Celebrity Jeopardy

8. April 15, 2000

Sean Connery (Darrell Hammond)
Hillary Swank (Jimmy Fallon)
Keanu Reeves (Tobey Maguire)

Most hosts hadn’t been SNL cast members, but that didn’t stop some of them from stealing the spotlight. Tobey Macguire’s Keanu Reeves is adorable here, David Duchovny does a great Jeff Goldblum, and Winona Ryder takes the cake for me with her creepy spot-on Björk impression (“When I look at the veins in my hands, they remind me of these two snakes that laugh.”). A good SNL host is one thing, but a good SNL host who can do a celebrity impression and hold their ground against the Jeopardy regulars is pretty impressive.

9. December 16, 2000

Sean Connery (Darrell Hammond)
Robin Williams (Jimmy Fallon)
Catherine Zeta-Jones (Lucy Liu)

Another great part of these sketches is when Connery purposely confuses a category with something offensive. In this case, “An Album Cover” becomes “Anal Bum Cover,” but there are plenty others. And now that they’re all grouped together, it’s surprising to know this level of humor made it to air, but I guess you can get away with more as long as it’s in Sean Connery’s Scottish burr.

10. February 8, 2001

Sean Connery (Darrell Hammond)
Ozzy Osbourne (Horatio Sanz)
Martha Stewart (Ana Gasteyer)

This sketch took place on one of SNL's Thursday Night Live specials and is another Jeopardy featuring all SNL cast members. Count on Connery to turn the category “Richard Nixon” into “Hard On” and drive Trebek to keep a flask in his pocket ready for times he wants to kill Connery for his mental torture.

11. September 29, 2001

Sean Connery (Darrell Hammond)
Chris Tucker (Dean Edwards)
Anne Heche (Reese Witherspoon)

Will Ferrell has referred to the Jeopardy sketch as “the spirit of Saturday Night Live,” and he couldn’t be more right, especially for this sketch, which took place during the first SNL episode after the September 11th attacks. Reese Witherspoon’s commitment to her duty as host was commendable, and SNL showed us that it was okay to laugh again, particularly when Connery vandalizes the “Famous Horsemen” category so it reads “Hore Semen.”

12. May 18, 2002

Sean Connery (Darrell Hammond)
Dave Matthews (Jimmy Fallon)
Björk (Winona Ryder)

It should be mentioned that Trebek stoically endures all 14 sketches drowning in hopeless disbelief for the celebrity stupidity around him, so for Ferrell’s last episode as an SNL cast member, the real Alex Trebek made a cameo. Trebek has said that he loves SNL's Jeopardy sketches and was “extremely disappointed when Will left. We've never had any contestants as ornery as the Sean Connery character that Darrell Hammond portrays. I've been asked how I would feel if we had Sean Connery on Celebrity Jeopardy! I tell everyone I'd just walk up to him and punch out his lights.”

13. May 14, 2005

Sean Connery (Darrell Hammond)
Bill Cosby (Kenan Thompson)
Sharon Osbourne (Amy Poehler)

Will Ferrell came back to host SNL in 2005, and Jeopardy first-timers Amy Poehler (who plays a pitch-perfect Sharon Osbourne) and Kenan Thompson (as Bill Cosby) joined Ferrell and Hammond to bring back the sketch after a three-year absence. The timelessness of the sketch has made it immune to danger from breaks, current events, and cast switch-ups – all that’s needed for it to survive is Trebek, Connery, and two more talented impressionists.

14. May 16, 2009

Burt Reynolds (Norm Macdonald)
Sean Connery (Darrell Hammond)
Tom Hanks (Tom Hanks)
Kathie Lee Gifford (Kristen Wiig)

Will Ferrell returned again to host in 2009 in Darrell Hammond’s last episode as a cast member after a record-breaking 14-year run at SNL. Now that the last original Celebrity Jeopardy cast member was leaving the show, it was only appropriate for Norm Macdonald to return as Reynolds as well, and the three originals got plenty of hilarious support from Kristen Wiig as drunk Kathie Lee Gifford and Tom Hanks playing super-stupid Tom Hanks. It’s nice to see this sketch gain an immortal status that has lasted through all its staple characters leaving SNL, and now that Norm Macdonald has returned to television, I hope he hosts SNL soon and brings the Jeopardy gang back with him.

15. February 15, 2015

Burt Reynolds (Norm Macdonald)
Sean Connery (Darrell Hammond)
Justin Bieber (Kate McKinnon)
Christoph Waltz (Taran Killam)
Tony Bennett (Alec Baldwin)
Matthew McConaughey (Jim Carrey)
Bill Cosby (Kenan Thompson)

SNL's 40th anniversary special brought "Celebrity Jeopardy" out of its six-year absence in high style packed with stars — Sean Connery and Turd Ferguson returned, "Jeopardy" newbies Kate McKinnon and Taran Killam got to show off their perfect Justin Bieber/Christoph Waltz impressions, Jim Carrey and Alec Baldwin joined in, and even Kenan Thompson showed up as Bill Cosby in the Video Daily Double. Check out Norm Macdonald's in-depth behind-the-scenes recap here.

Here's to the next 15 "Celebrity Jeopardy" sketches!

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  • Mike Norquist@facebook

    Thanks for this article. I didn't realize that CJ had been on SNL as many times as this. It's great to have all of the videos in one place. These sketches always make me laugh til I cry.

  • http://twitter.com/bradfordevans Bradford Evans

    I used to love this sketch growing up. It was great they didn't drill it into the ground by doing it too frequently. There was consistently one Celebrity Jeopardy at the start of the season and one at the end, each year, which I think is perfect for a recurring sketch. That way I'm excited to see it, instead of groaning when I see a sketch that they do every three or four episodes.

  • http://www.shawncomedy.com Shawn Miller

    The Celebrity Jeopardy! sketches still hold up to this day. Such great concept and execution.

    Also, Celebrity Jeopardy! sketches are always my first rebuttal to anyone claiming that Jimmy Fallon ruined every scene he was in – he was always incredible in these.

  • robm

    You posted the Cruise/Sandler video twice (instead of the Flockhart/Cage sketch). Just so you know.

    • Megh Wright

      @robm Thanks for catching that! Should be fixed soon.

  • JoshUng

    I loved these sketches. While I'm sure there were better ones, for some reason, my favorite was always when Sean Connery/Hammond said "swords" instead of "s words."

  • HerooftheBeach

    The "Therapists" joke is a total classic, but it's interesting to see the delay in the audience's reaction. It takes them a minute to see the joke, until they get it and they go into an uproar. I think these sketches did a lot to push those kinds of boundaries.

  • Haiku Movie Reviews@twitter
    • Megh Wright
  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ben-Worcester/818292220 Ben Worcester

    Home run.

  • Kevin Loury@facebook

    Will Ferrell should play the straight-man more often. He's just as funny if not funnier than when he's bouncing off the walls.

  • Alberto Alvarez@facebook

    I was missing celebrity jeopardy for the longest time.

  • Ray K.

    I just stumbled on this site.  Did you watch SNL this past Saturday? (5/12/12)  Will Ferrell was the host, and there was NO CELEBRITY JEOPARDY!

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/K4NNZRP57WFZIXWVQUOGSCQNVY Klaus

       Probably  because there was no Darell Hammond.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/K4NNZRP57WFZIXWVQUOGSCQNVY Klaus

       Probably  because there was no Darell Hammond.

  • http://www.celebritiesdietplan.com/ Celebrity Diet

     celebrity jeopardy must be re launch with new addition.

  • http://www.facebook.com/richard.horvath Richard Torque Horvath

    A good idea ground into the ground

  • http://twitter.com/JBlueNote Josh B

    Just saw the "Michael Keaton" episode. I wonder what the SNL version of him back in teh day would have said about Christian Bale lol

  • Scott M

    They were funny. But they do owe a big debt to the "Halfwits" sketches from SCTV's 4th NBC cycle – which weren't available for viewing when the SNL writers reworked the SCTV material and presented it as new. This was neither the first nor last time that SCTV's brilliance was coopted. You can find "Halfwits" on youtube; check it out.

    • Bobdabuilder

      Similarity isn't copying.

      • Terry Cullen

        In Norm Macdonald's own words:

        "I came up with the idea of Celebrity Jeopardy years ago by stealing it, note for note, from an SCTV classic, Half-Wits."

        • Bobdabuilder

          Well, I'll be damned.

          • Dasby

            Gotta remember, Norm Macdonald is Canadian. haha. It was nice of him to admit to stealing the idea. It was especially nice that he actually asked the people who were involved in SCTV if he could use the idea on SNL instead of just stealing it.

        • Tony F

          He did ask for permission to steal. I think from Martin Short.

  • Ellie

    Love how in the most recent one Norm Macdonald's podium still says Turd Ferguson

  • http://theadonisgoldenratio.blogspot.com/ Tracy Reynolds

    There was consistently single Celebrity Jeopardy during the start of the season as well as one on end, each 12 months, which I think is ideal for a adonis golden ratio sketch. That way I'm excited to see this, as an alternative of groaning when I experience a sketch that they do every three or 4 episodes.

  • scumby

    Half-Wits SCTV been there, done that first,

  • http://milano.bbakeca.com/ BBakeca

    Great article! Thanks!

  • K1

    Your video for #7 is no longer able to be displayed. Can you please update it with an alternate link!

  • cruisesandler

    the tom cruise. adam sandler, one gets cut off.
    here is a whole one http://www.kewego.com/video/iLyROoaftd-1.html

  • cageflockhart

    the nick cage, clarista flockhart, one gets cut off.
    here is a whole one https://vk.com/video-37271784_162747526

  • guest

    how come sometimes they use the Jeopardy theme song and other times they don't?

  • lgeubank

    There's really some inspired humor in these sketches. I cracked up. But Will Ferrell impressed me most of all. He's just perfect, a;ways in character, almost imperturbable. That's some really good acting.

  • Andrew Lea

    update needed after the 40th anniversary show, and your mother's a whore.

  • http://dbakeca.com Dbakeca Italia

    a good ideea