Stephin Merritt Befriended This Jeopardy! Contestant

Noam Galai/Getty Images for Tibet House

Stephin Merritt Befriended This Jeopardy! Contestant

Noam Galai/Getty Images for Tibet House

A bunch of older Jeopardy! episodes recently went up on Netflix, including a 2013 Tournament Of Champions entry in which 9-time winner Jason Keller talks about meeting up with the Magnetic Fields’ Stephin Merritt after his initial appearances on the show in 2011.

“The Magnetic Fields, an indie group… Their lead singer Stephin Merritt actually watched all of my shows in a bar, and through some mutual acquaintances, we happened to meet up and hung out in lower Manhattan for a day,” Keller said during Alex Trebek’s ceremonial contestant introductions. Trebek, of course, questioned what exactly Merritt was doing watching nine episode of Jeopardy! in a bar.

Twitter user @zrok_ pointed it out:

But wait! It doesn’t stop there. It looks like they became pretty good buds. Merritt’s talked about Keller in three separate interviews. In a 2014 interview with The A.V. Club, when asked what game show he think he’d be good at, he mentioned Jeopardy!:

Well, the only game show I know of is Jeopardy! I have a friend, Jason Keller, who was the No. 6 Jeopardy! champion of all time, and I’ve seen him play Jeopardy!, and it looks like a lot of fun. But sometimes I think the answers are incredibly easy and would be known by any civilized person. And then sometimes I don’t really even understand what the topic is.

And in two separate pieces about Merritt’s Scrabble-related poetry book, 101 Two Letter Words, he mentions his Jeopardy! friend. In a Billboard piece about his best Scrabble tips, he says: “I refuse to play people who are too challenging for me. I declined Jason Keller, a [nine-time] Jeopardy champion.” And in a different interview about Scrabble he says he would in fact play against him, but only with some scientific enhancements:

I have a friend Jason Keller, who is a Scrabble champion. He is the sixth highest scoring Jeopardy contestant ever. I would like to play Scrabble with him, but only if I had some kind of thyroidal enhancement to my brain. If we were in a comic book and what emerged was Lex Luthor or Brainiac sized, I would then be in a position to play Scrabble with him.

And there it is! The definitive history of Stephin Merritt’s friendship with Jeopardy! contestant Jason Keller. Why wasn’t there a song about this on the 50 Song Memoir!?

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