A harmless cannabis joke is at the center of controversy after fans reacted to commentary on a recent Jeopardy! episode. The show is often the topic of bizarre controversies affecting its older viewership, seemingly invented out of nothing.
Jeopardy! host Mayim Bialik already faced a steep battle to be accepted by fans. For instance, Bialik was confronted on social media earlier for wearing the same outfit repeatedly on the show.
Following the 2020 death of beloved longtime host Alex Trebek, Bialik was selected to host the game show and co-host another version of the show with series champ Ken Jennings. Jennings won 74 consecutive episodes of the show—the longest streak the show has ever seen. Nearly every show host faced uphill odds trying to fill the shoes of Trebek.
Current contestant Bonnie Kistler, who is a novelist, chose the category “Ripped From The Headlines” for $400 on the May 24 episode of Jeopardy! broadcast as Season 38 Episode 182.
Contestants were confronted with the phrase, “Marijuana issues sent to this ‘committee’ generally composed of members of both houses of a legislature.”
Contestant Ryan Long, who is the current reigning champion of the show, guessed “What is a bipartisan committee?” but he guessed incorrectly. Long is a Rideshare driver by trade and won 12 episodes of the show in a row undefeated.
Jeopardy! co-host Bialik said the correct question was “What is a joint committee?”
Bialik added “Get it?” with a snicker, referring to the double meaning and drawing some guarded laughter from the crowd.
Even the slightest allusion to the “devil’s lettuce” is enough to stir controversy to the show’s fans, who are typically older in age. In 2011, Newsweek reported that the show’s median viewer was 65 years old—after the show spent years modernizing. Before then, the median viewer age was 70!
It’s not the first time the joke about “joint committees” has appeared. In 2015, Massachusetts Senate President Stanley Rosenberg brought up a legislative item on cannabis reform and noted that it would take place in joint committees. Rosenberg said, “That’s really funny. I didn’t try to be funny. They are called joint committees.”
While the joke was well received by most viewers, some Twitter users weren’t having it—slamming the show as well as Bialik, who wasn’t being easily accepted anyways. One Twitter user wrote, “Oh, but won’t the #Jeopardy writers PLEASE think of the children watching, and their delicate ears that were just exposed to a cannabis reference?” referring to an oft-cited The Simpsons episode.
Fans already begged Bialik to be “considerate of the kids” regarding adult themes. One user responded, noting how alcohol is more dangerous than cannabis. “ignorant jokes like yours don’t help.”
The late former show host Alex Trebek could toss around a joke or two about cannabis as well.
When interviewed by Marlon Stowe for The Daily Beast, Trebek recalled one time he got wasted on hash edibles, by taking too many of them by accident. We all know how that can play out.
“It was by accident! I didn’t know what they were,” Trebek said. “I had just arrived in California and went to a friend’s house for dinner, and there were brownies. I love brownies—I’m a chocoholic—and I didn’t realize that they were hash brownies. And… whoa. That threw me for a loop. I took down about a half-dozen.”
Fans of the show are urged to give Bialik a chance as the new show host, along with Jennings and any other new hosts.