Trivia makes a comeback

Which Williams a cappella group won more trivia championships last fall than any other team? That’s a good question. And it’s not the only intriguing bit of info you’ll gain at Trivia Night at the Log, hosted every Thursday night at 9 p.m. The event combines pop culture, geography, literature and other more obscure fields for an all-out trivia extravaganza. To get a taste of the type of questions asked, here are a few samples from last Thursday: “Which U.S. protectorate allows drinking at age 18?” “What is the capital of North Dakota?” And, “In 1969, Frank Oz and Jim Henson created which popular television roommates?” For the answers, read on.

Although Trivia Night used to be a Williams staple, it died out before any current students came to the College. Bringing it back was the brainchild of Schuyler Hall ’10, student life coordinator in Campus Life.

“Over the summer, I went to a trivia night with some friends in Santa Barbara,” Hall said. “It was really fun. I thought, you know, this might fly at a place like Williams.” Hall hosted the first Trivia Night last fall. Each week, he composes a list of three ten-question trivia categories. Participants form groups of any size, select a name, and work as a team to answer as many questions as possible from each category.

Last Thursday, the categories were state capitals, alcoholic beverages and dynamic duos/famous couples in popular culture. Each week, participants submit ideas for categories they would like to see in upcoming weeks. Proposals range from the ultra-intellectual to the uber-outlandish. The strangest? Last semester, one category featured a mash-up of the musical interests of Ryann Tookes ’11 with the sexual interests of Tiger Woods. “Ryann’s a regular at Trivia Night and she wanted me to feature her favorite music,” Hall explained. “So she sent me a list of her 25 favorite artists, and I picked five of them to ask questions about. Then I looked though a list of Tiger’s 25 favorite mistresses and chose five of them. It was a pretty tough category.”

While attendance often varies according to the proliferation of papers and problem sets due each week, the campus a capella group Good Question (GQ) almost always shows up.

“We schedule rehearsals around Trivia Night,” Megan Behrend ’12 said, laughing. “We started going in the fall and now we’re really into it.”

Their strategy? Divide and conquer. “I cover science; Frankie [Simms ’14] does music, Sarah Sanders [’14] … knows musicals, and we all have other random knowledge,” said group member Rob Gearity ’11. But GQ’s Achilles’ heel becomes all too apparent whenever questions involving athletics arise.

“We are seriously lacking sports buffs,” Gearity said. “One week, they had a category on stadiums. Stadiums! And we got zero right. Although we made a comeback and won the night.”

However, GQ’s position at the top of the totem poll is under threat by some formidable first-year opponents: Bears Eat Beets. The team, which consists of five Mills 3 entry-mates, unseated GQ once over Winter Study and again last Thursday. “We started going to Trivia Night in January,” said Byron Perpetua ’14, a member of the frosh team. “Luke [Faust ’14] gets capitals and sports and Eilin [Perez ’14] is the resident academic.” Helen Song ’14 and David Kruger ’14 are also team members.

Competition can get intense. “Over Winter Study, there was a three-way tie. So it went to single rounds and we had Byron go up,” Faust said. “The question was, ‘In 2007, Music Is My Savior, in a self-titled album, released which single?’ And Byron won the game with ‘This Is Why I’m Hot.’ We were so pumped.”
With Spice Root gift cards at stake, who wouldn’t be pumped? “At the beginning of the semester, we got a whole bunch of snack bar points, which weren’t worth much to us,” Gearity said. “But then they started giving out the Spice Root gift cards. So far, we’re up to about 60 bucks. And we also won Kid Cudi tickets.”

But even if GQ is forced to relinquish the free curry chicken and their reign as trivia champs, the singers have not taken their last bow. “While we get really worked up, in the end we don’t care that much,” Behrend said. “We’ll always come back because it’s fun. We like worthy competitors.”

With such enthusiastic participants, the future of Trivia Night is looking bright. “We’ll be happening for at least the rest of the year,” Hall said. “And I’m constantly coming up with new categories.” Potential topics for future trivia nights include Las Vegas nightclubs, Academy Awards, MTV/VH1 reality TV and Latin legal terms (e.g. quid pro quo). Or, if Bears Eat Beets get lucky, perhaps Dunder-Mifflin trivia will make an appearance in the near future.

So for all of you who are feeling that you’re not getting enough mental exercise in class, Trivia Night is a good place to start. And just in case you were still wondering, the Virgin Islands allow drinking at age 18, Bismarck is the capital of North Dakota and the aforementioned famous roommates are none other than Bert and Ernie.