It turns out there is a way to judge how much you love a TV show, to calculate how much you really know about said show over other equally-obsessed fans. And no, I’m not talking about Scene-It. I’m referring to Classic Simpsons Trivia Night, held recently at Brooklyn’s Berry Park bar.
Around 15 teams competed in this particular trivia night, with some made up of a single member and others a half-dozen, evenly split between males and females. Admission to the contest cost $5 for an individual/$10 for a team; with that entrance fee came an opportunity to prove that you are the number one Simpsons fan in all of New York City. (That’s good.) And by all of NYC, I mean that one bar in Brooklyn. (That’s good.) Also, winners from the night received doughnuts from the Tina Fey-approved Peter Pan Bakery. (That’s…also good.)
I attended with my friend Jim and my girlfriend Nadia, who combined could only half-answer one question during the evening (“Who are Bart Simpson’s mortal enemies?” Neither guessed Doctor Demento), so basically, I was on a one-man team, the tastefully named Pukahontas. And I felt like snobby Comic Book Guy the entire time.
Andrew Ennals, who co-founded the event with fellow fan Amanda Factor in Toronto, hosted the trivia night. The evening began with a screening of “$pringfield (Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Legalized Gambling)” (biggest laugh: “Gamblor”). Ennals, who wore a “Gabbin’ About God” shirt, passed out three sheets of paper to every team; each side had 10 lines for the 10 questions asked per round, for three rounds (50 questions in all). Part one consisted of general questions about the show, while part two had specific categories: Milhouse, and later, Music. After Homer mocked Marge about her having a gambling problem at the end of “$pringfield,” the game began with: “Out of all the ringers Mr. Burns lined up for his softball team, which was the only one to play in the big game?”
For a fan of the show, the question was a piece of cake (“Daryl Strawberry”), as were most of the questions in round one — although Team Pukahontas didn’t do as well as we could have. Out of 10 possible points, Puke’ only got an eight, a downright disappointing total. The questions we got wrong:
-What is the name of Lionel Hutz’s law practice? (I Can’t Believe It’s a Law Firm, which, yeah)
-What are the names of Lisa and Bart’s hockey teams coached by Apu and Chief Wiggum? (I correctly guessed the Gougers, but accidentally wrote down “the Warthogs,” rather than the Mighty Pigs)
-Besides Sideshow Bob and Mel, name two other Sideshows (I immediately got Sideshow Luke Perry, but the round was over when I finally remembered Sideshow Raheem. Totally forgot about Sideshow Marge, hinted at during “Eight Misbehavin’,” as did everyone else there.)
I eagerly awaited the second half of round one, because Milhouse is one of my favorite characters and I just knew that the answer to one of the questions was going to be: “Thrillho.” I was right (“What is Milhouse’s on-screen name when playing BoneStorm?” If you guessed “Thrillhouse,” you were wrong; the key phrasing is “on-screen”), and Pukahontas got most of the other category questions right, too, with answers of “Milpool,” “The Dud,” and “ALF Pogs.” The ones we got wrong:
-Bullies cover Milhouse with these before sending him on his mystical journey (Quimby bumper stickers)
-On a mission to recapture the town’s lemon tree from Shelbyville, Milhouse provides Bart with a disguise courtesy this kit (Baron Von Costume’s Deluxe Disguise Kit)
-After being beaten up by Nelson, Milhouse was unable to hear Lisa’s apology for this reason. (His ears were packed with gauze)
Out of a possible 20 points, Pukahontas had racked up 15, good for third in the contest. Although I can’t remember which teams were ranked where, I do recall some of the other team names: the Christ Punchers, Neon Claws, Mr. Plow, Why Was I Programmed to Feel Pain?, Team Discovery Channel, the Kwyjibos, the Guatemalan Insanity Peppers, Tommaco Is Wacko, and SSCCATAGAPP, a rare post-glory era Simpsons reference. (It’s an acronym from season 15 standing for “Singles, Seniors, Childless Couples, and Teens and Gays Against Parasitic Parents.” During one round, I scored the card for Team SSCCATAGAPP because they were sitting next to me, and they didn’t do very well. Is it possible that there are people out there who are better versed at episodes like “Smoke on the Daughter” and “Sex, Pies, and Idiot Scrapes” than “Lisa on Ice” and “Homer Badman”? I shudder at the thought.)
The next episode was “Rosebud” (biggest laugh: “Mmm…64 slices of American cheese,” obviously), followed by 10 general questions, then 10 more about all things music-related. I was ecstatic that the first question of the round was, “What is Skinner’s term for ‘hamburgers,’ and to what upstate New York city does he attribute this expression?” because I’m from Albany; dislike Utica; and no, we don’t call them steamed hams. The rest of the round ranged from “Name two of the other three towns that were put on the map through the purchase of a monorail?” (I just replayed Phil Hartman’s monologue in my head) to “What was the title of Barney’s movie in the Springfield Film Festival?” which made our team very happy. Again, though, we didn’t get an A+++; we were reduced to an 8.5, having failed to correctly answer “Sun ‘n’ Run” (the name of Dr. Nick’s sunscreen/laxative) and “Wide Load” (one of Homer’s two tattoos, although I did get Starland Vocal Band because, well, they suck).
But Team Pukahontas knew we were going to ace the music round — and finally, we were right. Beginning with “This musical was billed as a musical journey through the Betty Ford Clinic,” ending with “What is the name of the Simpsons’ magical nanny who bears an uncanny resemblance to the title character from a popular musical?” and everything in-between — including “What instrument does Homer give Lisa to replace her stolen saxophone?” and “About to be killed by Sideshow Bob, Bart stalled for time by asking him to sing the complete score of this operetta” — our sensitive, yet unfortunately titled team went 10/10. Although my favorite question was, “What was the title track to Kirk Van Houten’s demo tape?” (“Can I borrow a feeling?/Can you lend me a jar of love?”), my favorite moment of the category was Ennals asking, “According to Burns’ ‘See My Vest’ song, what are his white slippers made out of?” and seeing everyone participating in the contest, myself included, silently sing the song to themselves. Side note: I once won $5 at a Friendly’s in Albany (again, no steamed hams) because my friend bet I didn’t know all the words to “See My Vest.” Showed him.
We were nearing the end of the evening, and things got intriguing when Ennals didn’t announce the standings after two rounds. I could only hope that Pukahontas was still in the running for first place, and that we would fair better than A Burns for All Seasons. All that remained was a screening of personal favorite “Summer of 4 Ft. 2” (biggest laughs: “See You in the Car” and Milhouse appearing behind the cereal box) and 10 final questions, beginning with, “What is Power Sauce’s arch-rival product called?” Um. I knew which episode it was referring to (“King of the Hill”), but I always thought of it as being from season 11 or 12, definitely not classic-era. I was half-wrong: it’s from season nine (wrong), which is not from the classic-era (right).
To settle a long-running and totally arbitrary debate: The Simpsons’ glory years are from seasons 3-8; 9-12 are very good (including all-time classics “The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson,” “Lisa Gets an A,” “Homer to the Max,” and “Behind the Laughter”), but signs of strain can be seen beginning in season nine. Another way of remembering the difference: if the episode title is a pun, like season nine’s “The Trouble with Trillions,” it’s likely from the post-glory era; since season 11, almost every episode is called something like “The Great Wife Hope.” All of this is to say: that’s my selfish reasoning for why I didn’t know the answer to the Power Sauce question (it was Vita-Peach Health Log). I have no such excuse for the following questions that Puke’ also got wrong:
-NASA knew their shuttle launches were in trouble when they were beaten by this program in the ratings
-Why did Ned Flanders feel responsible for his family falling ill to the Osaka Flu?
-Who told the funniest anecdote Troy McClure had ever heard?
(The correct answers are: A Connie Chung Christmas; Married…with Children; and Troy McClure, which, c’mon Pukahontas!)
We did, however, correctly guess Bi-Mon Sci-Fi Con; Staring at His Sandals/Paddling the Canoe; Queasy and Surly; and Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys, the final answer to the final question of the evening.
Our answer sheets were handed in, and while Andrew tabulated the final total, the screen that had been showing The Simpsons was now airing a soccer match, disappointedly not between the two greatest nations on Earth, Mexico and Portugal. Andrew picked up the microphone, and without any hesitation, began, “And in third place is…Pukahontas.” If I were a good journalist, I would have written down the names of the two teams who finished higher than ours. But I’m not (all I remember was the six-person first place team, The Bart The, who are now the Gerald to my Maggie), and it turns out, I’m not much of a Simpsons fan, either. For all of a minute, I kept muttering, in a self-pitying way, “I am NOT so S-M-R-T,” and then I ate a doughnut and instantly felt better.
Doughnuts, is there anything they can’t do?
(Post-script: final standings for the evening can be seen here. Poor, poor Dustin…)
Josh Kurp will try to finish in second place during the next trivia night, on August 4. You will be there, Splitsider folk, or kindly be square.