Why I Almost Committed Suicide Watching Jonathan Franzen on Jeopardy
A three-time Jeopardy champ nearly loses it seeing a slightly more famous writer at the game-show podium
I’m a Jeopardy! champion. I won three games in September of 2013. This didn’t happen during “Power Players Week.” I’m not a power player to anyone but that one guy in Pittsburgh who bought my band’s album in 2004, and also the editor of this newspaper, who wanted me to review Jonathan Franzen’s appearance on Jeopardy! Power Players Week. So here goes.
On Jeopardy, Jonathan Franzen knew all the answers. Of course he did. He’s Jonathan Franzen! They gave him a category about Birds in the first round. He got those questions right, of course. That’s like giving me a category called “Jerkin’ It.” There was also a Shakespeare category. Mr. Franzen knew those answers, too, though he didn’t ring in to answer that the Tamer of the Shrew was named Petruchio, an answer that I, sitting on my couch in my underwear while smoking a joint, knew immediately. “I should have known that,” Franzen said, fake-demurely.
Curse you, Franzen!
Then came the moment when Alex Trebek, the evil lord of knowledge, talks to the players. He and Mr. Franzen spent 30 seconds dissing Twitter, a doomsday scenario, a meeting of the ubermenschen that shattered my soul forever. “Do you think in our society, Twitter is trivializing importance?” Alex Trebek asked Jonathan Franzen. Even typing that phrase—“Alex Trebek asked Jonathan Franzen”—hurts my heart. Believe it or not, Mr. Franzen did, and then talked about how it was impossible to form a counter-argument on Twitter.