Why you and your team? Why and how the fuck are you qualified to host and write Qs for Simpsons trivia?
David Virr: It was an idea I’d had for years, and I was seeing on Simpsons Facebook groups that people were having success doing it in other cities. I pitched the idea to JJ Gonson at ONCE, who gave it a shot, so therefore it became us! Like most of the attendees, who are generally aged early 20s through late 40s, I grew up with the show. Being a shy, generally stay-out-of-trouble teenager gave me plenty of time to stay in and watch, and rewatch, and rewatch, the classic ’90s/early 2000s episodes.
Jacklyn Boyland: Like Daniel San in Karate Kid with wax-on/wax-off, I had been unknowingly training to be a Simpsons quiz mistress my whole life. For me, high school was at a time when there would be at least four rerun episodes of the Simpsons and Seinfeld. It was the prototype Netflix binge. I monopolized the landline every night downloading Simpsons audio snippets via 128k modem.
As a teenager, Simpsons quotes got metabolized into everyday life. Monday lunch table talk would quote from last night’s Simpsons, and Saturday Night Live, and if you had no clue … you were SOL. There was no DVR or YouTube.
Are there different levels of Simpsons nerds who showed up to the first one? How might they be categorized?
DV: There are many levels of Simpsons fandom, and part of the challenge is coming up with questions that are easy enough to make newcomers and casual fans feel welcome, while still coming up with challenging questions to keep the higher-scoring teams from running away with it early. We’ve gotten to know quite a few of the regulars, whose backgrounds range from teachers to musicians to blue-collar workers to… uh… scientician.
JB: There’s a range of clientele. There’s some people who’d definitely be hanging around with Otto and smelling like his jacket, some of Comic Book Guy’s peers if he had any, a handful of Professor Frinks with honest-to-God PhDs in things other than late-20th-century animation. It’s not a total sausage fest; there’s a lot of Lisa Simpsons and even some Lindsay Nagles. A handful of times our youngest players have been 10 years old, just like Bart Simpson himself.
Are questions from later seasons the real stumpers? Since nobody has seen that shit?
DV: We tend to avoid doing too many questions from beyond season 12 or 13. When a newer episode question does appear, it’s often met with a roomful of groans and the occasional “Boo-Urns.” The hard questions are usually just more obscure pieces of knowledge, like what is Springfield’s zip code (58008), which read upside down on a calculator would be “BOOBS,” or naming all of Apu and Manjula’s children.
JB: We hold firmly to the idea that only seasons 1-13 are truly canon, and it really starts to flatline after season 17. … That being said, I can’t in my heart of hearts shit on the Simpsons. It’s like the elderly family dog who’s just lazing around the house, but you remember the spunky days.
Are there any other general areas that you see being an Achilles’ heel almost across the board? What kind of stuff do even the real Simpsons geniuses tend to miss?
DV: The toughest questions we’ve had? There’s no limit to how obscure we can make the questions, or requiring teams to think of multiple answers across many seasons (i.e., naming everyone who has voiced Maggie at some point). But in terms of less-difficult questions that stump a lot of people, I’d say we get a lot of “good guess but no” when we have a books-and-literature-themed round, as well as presidential trivia (when in doubt, go with Nixon).
JB: I’d say the stumpiest questions are the ones you can’t quote because it’s more of a visual element. For instance: “Draw Dignity.” Or, “What are some of the animals/objects shown on the ‘food chain’ in the educational film Meat and You: Partners in Freedom?”
We have to ask you a question about Apu by law, so please, say anything not too ignorant about that controversy, and how it might play into the evening?
DV: Attendees’ opinions on the matter haven’t really affected any of the trivia or the outcomes, whatever their opinions may be. I’m generally content to let others on Facebook duke it out on the history and future of Apu. Does the character need to be put to bed? No more than the show itself at this point, I’d argue. However, one of my favorite episodes is from season 7, titled “Much Apu About Nothing.” It’s surprisingly relevant for being 20 years old and how it addresses casual racism, perception of stereotypes, and scapegoating immigrants for something completely unrelated (in this case the tax increase pertaining to the Bear Patrol). Still, you’re not going to hear me say, “Thank you come again” at the end of the night, either.
JB: It doesn’t play into the evening. We love Apu as one of the original characters who’s occasionally had a heartwarming moment of three dimensionality. We live in a world where The Problem with Apu made perfect sense to me, but we still love classic Simpsons episodes. Comedy changes with time to reflect society. … Today people cringe at Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. A show that’s been on for 30 years like the Simpsons should update its humor and characters for the time it reflects. Whenever that happens, I’ll catch the rerun.
1) What does Miss Hoover’s class eat after watching the film Meat and You: Partners in Freedom?
2) What politician was once issued an honorary degree by Sir Oinks A Lot, the mascot of Springfield A&M?
3) When Homer tries to buy a gun in the episode “Cartridge Family,” what song plays while he endures the mandatory background check?
4) What invention does Comic Book Guy destroy by calling it useful?
5) According to Ned, if it’s tangy and brown, you’ve entered what municipality?
6) What store does Otto accuse of engaging in false advertising?
7) What two US presidents have lived across the street from the Simpsons?
8) Who is actually buried in the grave that Homer believes his mother is in?
9) According to Homer, what is the name of the mother possum that lives on board the Springfield Monorail?
10) Name the three members of the Springfield Nuclear Plant softball team who are also in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
ANSWERS: 1) tripe. 2) Richard Nixon. 3) “The Waiting” by Tom Petty. 4) sarcasm detector. 5) Cider Town. 6) Stoner’s Pot Palace. 7) George H.W. Bush, Gerald Ford. 8) Walt Whitman. 9) Bitey. 10) Ozzie Smith, Ken Griffey Jr., Wade Boggs.
Check out Simpsons Trivia at ONCE in Somerville on Tue 5.15 and approximately every four to six weeks. ONCEsomerville.com for more info.