Thursday, March 29, 2007

This... Isn't... Jeopardy!

I've been a vast repository of arcane, useless knowledge since my earliest days, when I'd spend hours after school reading the World Book Encyclopedia. There was something about those glossy pages that made them much more enticing than running around the playground; that, and there weren't approximately five billion wasps living in the encyclopedia. I didn't actually realize that accumulating trivia might have some long-term benefits, the most prominent being that I joined the quiz bowl team and got to play with those buzzers just like a real game show... from the 1960's. Look, if you're into painting, or playing tennis, or the flute, how often do you get to push a button and have an electronic gizmo make a noise? Never. That's how often.

But here in America, it's hard to find a quiz bowl — probably thanks to our proud heritage as ignoramuses — and even harder to find a good one. Last night, Harrigan, Jason, and I tried out Quizz-Off, the misspelled, apparently ad hoc pub quiz down at Pete's Candy Store of the drunken spelling bees, and it was a little disappointing. The questions were comically simple (see my note about our proud American heritage above), but more importantly, I don't remember quiz bowl ever being so lethargic. This is why you need the buzzers: to eliminate the long, dead periods between questions, while the team is conferring and writing out their answers in triplicate, or worse yet, while the emcee is walking around the bar, handing out crude photocopies of the pictures in the visual round. We didn't stay long.

I'd go back to Pete's though, maybe for their bingo night or poetry series, and of course to be jealous of the huge factories-turned-lofts all around Williamsburg. Just not to show off how smart I am.

Much better — smarter and somewhat entertaining — is The Big Quiz Thing downtown at The Slipper Room, which contrary to the self-promotion on the website, is hardly New York City's sexiest event space. I've been in sexier auto body shops. It doesn't matter every other Monday night anyway, cause everyone's keeping their clothes on for trivia night. The Big Quiz Thing is emceed by Noah, who's half Wink Martindale and half campy Reno lounge act. I go to The Big Quiz Thing and I'm usually too distracted by his sequin-covered leisure suit to actually answer questions. At least he keeps the show moving with fast questions, inane music, and the sometimes-amusing banter between him, DJ Gretchen, and useless guy in the background Eric. It's not Jeopardy!, but despite the cheese factor, The Big Quiz Thing succeeds as a trivia contest, with a good range of questions from the Stuff You Should've Learned In School to stuff you've probably never seen before but a team of smarties could work out. The $200 prize and $1.89 trophy isn't bad either.