If you've never watched Jeopardy!, the effusive outpouring of support after Alex Trebek announced that he has stage IV pancreatic cancer might seem a little odd. Why does everybody care about this game show guy? Well, if you need a primer on basic empathy, his one-minute, 13-second announcement of the diagnosis is a perfect and potent example of what's made Trebek such a joy to invite into our living rooms every evening for the past 35 years.
He delivers the grim news about pancreatic cancer's low survival rates with the same enthusiasm with which he informs a contestant they found the Daily Double. If the subject matter weren't so bleak, you'd think he was recording an interstitial for the show -- maybe one reminding viewers to take the online test to see if they can qualify to be a contestant. He is perpetually unruffled by anything. He's a consummate professional who exudes a soothing, almost inspiring confidence. He's the Bob Ross of game show hosts. Actually, it's starting to feel a little disrespectful to call him a "game show host." We always felt like he was above the label. He's the steady, poised center of a radically evolving television landscape.
The truest testament to Trebek's timeless poise? He caps off the tragic message with a joke about how he can't die now, because he's got three years left on his contract. It must have caught his own production crew off-guard, as someone can be heard laughing faintly in the background. He defused the somber atmosphere the same way he supports contestants going into Final Jeopardy down $10,000. In the midst of all the fear and anxiety, he just wants to make sure you're going to be OK.
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