What Exactly Is Going On With Alex Trebek’s Pronunciation Of ‘Tobias Fünke’ Here?

A few minutes ago, we received one of our more comical newswire tips from one David Metter*, with polite but clear instructions: “Dear lord Alex Trebek just did his Trebekian bullshit with pronunciations and mispronounced ‘Tobias Fünke’ on tonight’s Jeopardy. Please mock him accordingly.” Could it really be that bad?, we wondered. It is, but not how we expected: the hilarity of this clip from tonight’s Jeopardy! is actually the accuracy of Trebek’s pronunciation– he takes his umlauts seriously.

Fünke came up on Jeopardy! as a clue about Arrested Development, of course: “Played by David Cross, Dr. Tobias Fünke lost his license & suffered from ‘never-nude’ syndrome on this sitcom.” The players don’t seem to notice the regal pronunciation Trebek gives the name, but after listening for several times, I can confirm that this will rapidly become one of those videos I use as an instant pick-me-up on a rainy day. It is a delight. Trebek is lending his prestige to a name already as flamboyant as its owner, a pronunciation that makes him sound like an existential 19th century philosopher, perhaps a rival thinker of Søren Kierkegaard’s or the descendant of a notable bard. In Fünke’s defense, he was the chief resident of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital, an illustrious title once also held by Charles Krauthammer.

Enjoy Trebek’s guttural umlaut via ABC below:

*The creator of Soup Boots

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