The similarities are pretty obvious – both game shows are hosted by Canadian legend Alex Trebek (‘Alex Trebel’ in the early stages). SCTV versions, then it was later “What the hell, we call him ‘Trebek'”). Both featured incredibly stupid game show contestants testing Trebek’s patience with their idiocy. Norm loved Half Wits, but since it was done he didn’t feel right about scrapping the concept — until SCTV (and Half Wits) actor Martin Short will host SNL. Norm asked Short who wrote the original sketch – the answer was Eugene Levy.
“So I called Eugene Levy,” says Norm. “I told him the whole sketch. I said how much I loved the first one. I asked permission and he was kind enough to give it.”
Eugene Levy, if you’re reading this, could you please solve this mystery once and for all?
It’s no secret that the real Alex Trebek, the man whose reputation was regularly tarnished by Darrell Hammond’s Sean Connery, was a fan.
“Trebek told Lorne he loved the sketch,says Higgins. “I was always very happy about that. That would have been awful if he thought it was anything but love. You really can’t parody anything if you don’t love it, otherwise it’s just mean.”
But like Norm, Trebek had a special fondness for his Canadian compatriots at SCTV. “Eugene Levy has played the best Alex Trebek of all time to date, better than Will Ferrell,” he said. “He also looked more like the role. He had the dark hair and he had the black mustache.”
The game show host was proud of both impressions as they meant he’d arrived. “When you pick someone off, it’s a sign that you think your audience will immediately recognize who you’re making fun of,” Trebek said. “And if that’s the case, that means there must be a lot of people who’ve seen your show over the years.”
We just hope Trebek’s mom never had to see the Sean Connery plays.
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Image above: Broadway video