Move over standard bar trivia, this April 7th and 9th, the Alamo Drafthouse Lakeline and Slaughter Lane imports what Time Out New York calls “New York’s best trivia night,” The Big Quiz Thing. A fixture on the East Coast since 2002 and now on television on NYC Life, The Biq Quiz Thing combines the high energy and production value of a game show with a wit and edge that can bring geeks and cool kids together, possibly living in global harmony. Quizmaster Noah Tarnow, called “a geek savant” by Gawker and “a man of intriguing professional aspirations” by Keith Olbermann, will invite contestants up from the audience for big quiz fun and big quiz prizes. They will compete in a multimedia showdown on all things cinematic, featuring next-level, movie-themed video and audio trivia like “The Bipolar Movie Challenge,” “The Movie Quote Thesaurus,” “The Movie Title Mindbender,” “The Same Name Movie-Music Challenge,” “Rebus-O-Rama,” and other original puzzles on the massive screen.
I met Tarnow in college – his dorm room bookshelves were filled with books of trivia and trivial lists. I think he found me a kindred spirit as I had spent a majority of my high school reading time memorizing the chart positions of every single and album of the sixties and seventies. Tarnow was obsessed with showmanship – at the time his closest brush with fame was that a letter of his was read on Letterman. He directed plays, he performed in an A Cappella troop, he did improv, he wrote plays for a weekly theatre group (I remember one we wrote together about the depression of cleaning out the lint screens after the end of a relationship). He even put together a live radio performance of Orson Welles’ War of the Worlds. After college, Tarnow went to New York to work at Rolling Stone. He also did stand-up comedy… in character as Curtis Scagnetti (think some version of Ed Grimley). Like the great Weird ‘Al’ Yankovic song, he ‘lost on Jeopardy’ but he won on VH1’s Name that Video. In 2002 he put it all together: showmanship, writing, trivia in the form of The Big Quiz Thing, a live bar trivia show. It was his version of a smarter, more pop culture version of Jeopardy mixed with the games approach of The Price Is Right. Sure, the prizes are great, but just watching the show was as much fun for the people competing. Tarnow even awards ‘Smart Ass Points’ for wrong answers that amuse him. He built up an audience in New York City and then up and down the east coast and doing shows for corporate events. Last year, Tarnow redeveloped the BQT as a television show for the NYC Life station, focusing on New York based trivia.
But the what’s coming to the Alamo is something different (and has already proving a success selling out shows at the New York Drafthouse (in Yonkers). The show promises one-on-one-on-one showdown on all things movie and trivial, based on questions, clips, mash-ups, you name it, all projected on the massive Drafthouse screen. And all of the film-themed gimmick games that have helped make the BQT the standard in live trivia entertainment will be there, including…
Sayings of the Silver Screen: A movie clip is shown, paused right before a famous quote. Can you name the quote?
The Bipolar Movie Challenge: Video from a movie scene is accompanied by the audio from a completely different scene, from a different movie. Identify both films.
The Movie Quote Thesaurus: Puzzle out the famous movie quote, rephrased in an entertainingly convoluted manner.
The Same Name Movie-Music Challenge: Video from a movie, accompanied by a completely unrelated pop song…except they happen to share the same title. What’s the common title?
The Movie Title Mindbender: Identify the movie based on its title screen, with the actual name obscured.
Rebus-O-Rama: Who’s the movie star in question, whose name is indicated by the picture puzzle?
Tickets are a mere $5 and are available in advance at the Drafthouse website (http://bit.ly/PCis0m) And if you’d like a little warmup, the good BQT folks have provided us with a few trivial bits of silver screen trivia to prime the pump.
Q: Ironically, what athlete was considered to play the title role in The Terminator, until producers decided that audiences wouldn’t buy him as a killer?
Q: What product at Dunkin’ Donuts takes its name from The Wizard of Oz?
Q: What movie musical was released in Mexico as Vaselina?
Q: What horror movie monster first appeared in 1932, returning in sequels titled after his hand, his tomb, his ghost, his curse, and the time he met Abbott and Costello?
Tarnow tweets out fresh Google proof trivia each day @bigquizthing.