June 12, 2010

Recap: D.C. indeed

I'm going to keep this recap brief, partly because it's overdue and because I'm currently bussing it back from Washington, D.C., to NYC. It's shaky—I like our country's capital, but the traffic here can bite me. Gridlock on a Thursday afternoon at 3? What the fuck?

Now then: Thursday night, the first ever Big Quiz Thing in D.C., was an experiment. The venue was The Palace of Wonders, an intriguing sliver of a bar crammed with vintage sideshow posters, preserved exhibits behind Plexiglas, and burlesque dancers' leftover costuming in the dressing room (I thought about adding some plastic beads to the sparkly-jacket gestalt). There was a roving orange cat named Al who spent the preshow happily sleeping on the stage, scared off once I tested the Three-Way Finale bells. Cool place, but I wasn't sure it would work for the BQT: Small stage, no video setup, limited seating. So I downshifted the format into all-verbal, heavy on the audio sound effects. I crammed in a lot of the best BQT gimmicks: We had Movie Quote Thesaurus, plus Pop Music Thesaurus, plus Breakfast Cereal Haiku, plus Presidential Limericks (naturally), plus lots more. I bill the Big Quiz Thing as the World's Greatest Live Trivia, and I aimed to prove it.

And I did. The crowd was relatively light—out-of-town gigs often are, since people never know what to expect—but it was quantity over quality, with an overwhelming majority of smart people who actually have a life. We even had that rarest of rare birds, the Hot Girl in the Three-Way Finale.

(Photo by Helen Fields)
Hi, Sarah.

But the winners, represented by Joe, the fellow at left, were known as the Supersonics:
I knew these folks. I went to college with three of them. I swear, it was fair. Though a fellow from third-place team Revenge of Al the Cat had an understandable gripe: The question was "If you spelled out all the numbers, starting with one, you wouldn’t need to use the letter a until you reached what?" He rang in, stood there silently for a good ten seconds, I gave him the 3-2-1, and he blurted out the correct answer a millisecond too late. Sorry, Mike.

Regardless, I got doubleplusgood reaction from the audience, who urged me to come back. One British guy told me he's been to dozens of pub quizzes back in Ol' Blighty, and I was "far and away the best he's ever seen." That's going in my next press kit.

Will I return to D.C.? We shall see. As neat as it was, I don't think the Palace of Wonders is my scene, so I'd love recommendations for venues in the Washington area. Besides, I need to go back; Charlie Rangel never responded to my request for a tour of the White House. Instead, the next day I toured the Capitol, which mostly involves seeing statues, and I spotted this:
That's Hannibal Hamlin of Maine, a standby of BQT game Vce-President or Serial Killer?, and my dad's favorite obscure 19th-century VP. The tour is a big ol' waste of time.

And hey, thanks to the Lovely Laura, my D.C. college pal who did fill-in duty as onstage sidekick. The Stevie Nicks vibe of the tablecloth-layering was her idea. I rely upon a network of genius.


the kevin scurry blog said...

I like to think of D.C. as Coruscant, from the Star Wars prequels.

Helen said...

So great to have you in town! Come back soon! And come back to a bar that's metro-accessible. H Street NE: Hip, but annoying as hell to get to.

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