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OSF actor appears on ‘Jeopardy!’ Tournament of Champions

Jonathan Fisher, an Oregon Shakespeare Festival actor and 11-time “Jeopardy!” champion, competed this week in the game show’s Tournament of Champions. [video still via Jeopardy! Facebook]

A member of this year’s Oregon Shakespeare Festival acting company, who happens to be an 11-time “Jeopardy!” winner, was unable to make it past the first round of this week’s Tournament of Champions, but he did reveal that host Ken Jennings has been to Southern Oregon.

Jonathan Fisher, a California-based actor who played Stephano between June and October in OSF’s production of “The Tempest,” also appeared on “Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions” in an episode that aired Tuesday.

Fisher spent a week in California in September for filming of the championships before production in Ashland wrapped Oct. 16, he said when reached by phone Friday.

He said that when he told Jennings he was performing with the OSF this summer, the “Jeopardy!” host was instantly familiar.

In short conversations on set, Jennings told Fisher he’d been to OSF performances. Because the “Jeopardy!” host tapes six episodes of the quiz show a day, they didn’t get to talk “too too much” about matters outside the game.

“He kinda said, ‘Oh, I’ve been up to OSF a couple times ... so cool that you’re up in Ashland,’” Fisher recalled.

Fisher didn’t make it past the championship’s quarterfinal round in the episode that aired Tuesday, but he looks back at the game as exceptionally well played. He lost against champion Andrew He by $2.

“I’m not sore or upset in any way,” Fisher said.

The Final Jeopardy topic was poetry, a subject that usually plays to his strengths. Fisher wagered expecting to answer correctly and win by a dollar. His opponent, however, wagered expecting everyone to get the question wrong. It ended up being “a triple stumper of a question.”

“He bet to cover my cover,” Fisher said. “It turned out to be a pretty savvy bet.”

Fisher said he’s forged friendships with others in the championship. They’d grab dinner and go to karaoke the week of the event, and to this day they stay in touch in a group chat on Messenger.

Although Fisher didn’t make it past the quarterfinal round this year, he already has a place in the long-running game show’s record books. In October last year, he ended contestant Matt Amodio’s 38-win streak — making him what “Jeopardy!” fans call a “giant killer.”

In fact, Fisher happens to be the highest-winning and longest-streaking giant killer, according to his page on the “Jeopardy!” History Wiki. He ended up winning $246,100 in an 11-game streak that ended Oct. 21, 2021. According to the game show’s official blog, Fisher’s streak marked the “first time in show history that there’s been back-to-back double-digit champions.”

He said being able to return, even just for one game, was “icing on the cake.”

“Getting to come back and play it again, it wasn’t a super high-pressure event,” Fisher said.

Fisher spent seven months in Ashland between March and October for his role in OSF’s production of “The Tempest,” which ran this year at the Allen Elizabethan Theatre. He’s now back home in Southern California, where he’s involved in a “smaller scale Shakespeare project in L.A.” then he plans to take the holidays off.

When asked whether he’d return to Ashland, he said casting decisions are “a little above my pay grade,” but he’d be open to returning for the right role.

“I would love to come back and do something there, whether it’s next season or beyond,” Fisher said.

Reach web editor Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MTwebeditor.