The growing cult of Classic Simpsons Trivia in Toronto
These are my people. They emerge the second Tuesday of every month, still blurry-eyed from the murk of their parents' suburban basement, and make their way to the Gladstone Hotel where--finally--they are among their peers.
These individuals can easily list the best places to get a business hammock in Cypress Creek, and why Mary Ann's Hammocks stands out from the rest. They know the key to getting out of jury duty, the name of the gambling monster that enslaves Marge Simpson, and they all seem to share an unbridled fascination with Chief Wiggum's forbidden closet of mystery.
Ridiculed by the outside world for putting their retainers in the dishwasher and debating the merits of Captain Picard versus Kirk, these men and women find their niche at the Gladstone, surrounded by new friends in the Melody and Art bars. Here, we all understand that television--specifically the Simpsons seasons one to 11--is a teacher, mother, secret lover.
The first rule of WOO HOO! Trivia is get there early. While the night doesn't officially kick off until 8 p.m., group representatives are sometimes spotted as early as five, trolling the bar in hopes of snagging a spot near the screen or a coveted booth. Latecomers must stand. The evening consists of two rounds of 20 questions and a final 10-question lighting round, and each round is punctuated by the showing of a classic Simpsons episode.
And it is during these communal viewings that one realizes he or she is truly among the elite of Simpsons fandom. Only at WOO HOO! Trivia can you find a room of strangers who will sing along to "Hail to thee Kamp Krusty," and recite in unison the most obscure of Simpsons quotes. Dorks unabashedly parade around the bar wearing "Down With Homework" t-shirts, and high-fives and fist pumps are shared freely all around.
But during trivia time--it's all business. Smartphones are tucked away, teammates huddle in packs, and answers are scribbled down with cautious cover. Expert questions are read by WOO HOO! organizers Andrew Ennals and Amanda Factor, who are sometimes subjected to boos (or boo-urns) when the crowd disagrees with their rulings on responses. But with questions this tough, you've gotta be right on. What does Milhouse like on his toast? How does Lionel Hutz want to be paid for his babysitting services? What was the lowest tax increase in Springfield history?
Though amid the seriousness there's lots of collective glee, especially just before the second round, when Amanda and Andrew read out the team names. There's "The Globex Corporation," "Stupid Lisa Garbage Face," "Curtis E. Bear" and "Hail Ants" (yes, those jerks who always seem to nab a front booth), and the crowd eats up the familiar list with insatiable delight. And then, of course, it's on to round two.
The winners of the night revel in more than just glory. They are awarded a box of Lard Lad donuts and the promise of a reserved table on stage at the next WOO HOO! event. But for me--and I'm sure my compatriots would agree--Simpsons Trivia is, and always will be, about the esteem and pride that comes with placing among the evening's top 10. Alas, I have yet to achieve such a triumph, but I am coming to terms with the infeasibles in my life, recognizing this hurdle as just one among many. Indeed, I've realized that life is just one crushing defeat after another, until you just wish Flanders was dead.