Sometimes a Friday question requires its own post. And someone other than me answering it. Dan O'Shannon and his partner Tom Anderson wrote the Jeopardy episode of CHEERS. When a blog reader asked about it I sought out Dan for the answer.
O'Shannon became a show runner on CHEERS, FRASIER, and has executive produced MODERN FAMILY. He also wrote the definitive book on comedy analysis. Many thanks to Dan for writing back
and writing the episode in the first place. If he ever writes a blog
and someone asks a question about MANNEQUIN 2 I'm happy to return the
loved the Cliff blows the Jeopardy show ep. I'm curious as to how much
back and forth there may have been amongst all y'all in deciding
categories and what questions would be asked - and most especially, the
Final Jeopardy question. Any anecdotes would be much appreciated.
idea of Cliff trying out for Jeopardy started with Tom Anderson. It
was the B story in our spec script, which eventually got us on the show.
(Cheers, not Jeopardy). Once it was decided to use the story in an
episode, we needed to expand what we had.
As we pitched on it in
the room, I came up with the notion to fill the board with Cliff's dream
categories. I'd scribbled down four or five possible examples, like
"bar trivia" and ending with "celibacy." Once the idea was pitched, we
batted categories around the room, which was great fun. I remember us
all shouting out ideas and laughing like crazy.
Jeopardy question came from something I'd observed back when I was doing
stand-up. Anyone could win all the money on Jeopardy every night if
they wanted, because for each answer given on the show, there are an
infinite number of technically correct questions. The final exchange
(the names of the three celebrities, and "who are three people who have
never been in my kitchen") came directly from that.
PS -- I like
to think that a young Ken Jennings caught my act in Warren, Ohio in 1983
and now owes me -- at the very least -- a big thank you.