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Ken Jennings Q&A

from the real-american-heros dept.

The big boys over at Times and Seasons scored themselves an interview with Ken Jennings! Apparently Ken reads the site and even comments at times, making those T&S guys quite a bit cooler than the humble folks here at

A few weeks back we had ourselves a small controversy here about Ken swearing on Letterman. Ken actually addressed this in the interview when asked about the his experience on The Late Show and The Tonight Show. He said:

Letterman's a lifelong hero of mine, by the way, and it was a thrill to meet him. I'm sure Relief Societies across America were a little taken aback to hear me say, "Who gives a rat's ass?" as part of the Top Ten. A handful of members of my own ward certainly didn't spare their disapproval. But I didn't think twice about doing it once they gave me the list. It wouldn't remotely offend me to say (or hear) it in real life, so why quibble about it in a scripted comedy bit? I saw it as a great opportunity to demonstrate that Latter-day Saints, even Utah ones, aren't as homogenous or dull as stereotypes might suggest.

He also made an interesting comment about the shows themselves:

I had a fascinating chance to closely compare the Letterman and Leno shows, since I taped them only a week apart. Both shows oddly reflect the personality of their hosts and the cities where they operate. Late Night is quintessentially New York: a barely controlled anarchy, where everyone, even the girl bringing the bottled water, is as unpredictable and prickly and funny as the big boss. The Tonight Show is much more California. It's well-oiled, even micro-managed--my "pre-interview" took over a dozen separate phone calls! And the whole staff is as accommodating and schmoozy and glad-handing as the host is.

It's interesting that he points this out. I've always preferred Letterman's show because it seems liked he was flying by the seat of his pants, while Leno just doesn't have that same feel.

Ken commented on BYU as well:

3. Answer: Brigham Young University

Question: What is a nice place to visit but I wouldn't want to live there?

My wife and I were batting this BYU question back and forth over the weekend. We're both recent BYU graduates, but neither us have the strong, polarized opinions about the Y that many alumni do, either positive ("Go mighty Cougars!") or negative ("That's Satan's plan!") I look back fondly on many aspects of my on-campus experience (International Cinema, helping to run a popular intramural and intermural quiz bowl program, seeing Eric Samuelsen's Gadianton performed for the first time, mastering my illegal campus parking techniques) and a few still leave a sour taste (like the peek behind the bureaucratic curtain that I got when the Honors Department de-funded the quiz bowl program).

I had many proficient, effective professors in both the English and Computer Science departments, though I have to admit that, especially for an institution that focuses so strongly on undergraduate education, there were few who were really great or memorable or life-changing presences in any way. Maybe this says more about me than about anything else, and I should have been paying more attention to class lectures and less to the crossword in the Daily Universe. In any case, because the faculty failed to make much of an impression, the structural unit of my BYU experience was not the class or the department, but the ward. I would guess that many BYU grads share this perception. Despite the transient nature of student life, the student wards I lived in had a cohesiveness and a surprising sense of family and community that far outstrips any family ward I've lived in since. And that's mostly what I came to Provo for anyway: LDS friends and a social scene that wasn't as alcohol-soaked as what I'd seen elsewhere.

Interesting comments. Anybody care to respond to that? I'm too lazy and tired right now to figure out what I think about it. =)

Whatever happened to him anyway?

Hey, how many games did he play, and how much did he end up winning total? I lost track after he hit his $1 million mark, but I am curious to know how much longer he went on to play for.

The other 6 questions

The rest of Ken's responses were just posted this morning. They can be found here.

Ken the Mormon robot...

Yeah, so I was talking about Ken with my friend Seth, and he seriously believes that "Ken Jennings is a robot, programmed by the Mormons to take over the world". I just thought that that was really funny. I said that he should plan it so that he gets the Final Jeopardy question wrong, but still manages to win. I wonder how much of that Alex Trebek could put up with...

Melanie thinks that the Mormons should be like the Romanians and breed little robot gymnasts and raise them for the sole purpose of competing in the Olympics... I told her that that was funny because I was planning on adopting a Romanian girl and sending her to Bella Keroli (sp) robot camp in Houston. It wouldn't be that bad because she wouldn't really be my kid. It'd be like adopting a puppy and sending it off to obedience school... except for she wouldn't come home after 6 months, or ever...

Yeah, still going

He hasn't lost yet, at least not in any shows that have been aired. Jeopardy is in off-season / rerun mode right now, so that's why the noise has died down lately.