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Fringe Fest 2013 Reviews: TriviaCity (the Greatest Event of All Time) 

Question: What was the most amazing way for Rochesterians to spend Wednesday night?

Answer: By participating in TriviaCity: An Arts & Culture Quiz, put on by City Newspaper at the Spiegelgarden as part of the First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival.

I can say, without any conflict of interest, that this was the greatest game of trivia ever played. Of all time. The greatest!

I kid, I kid. But it was a pretty fun time. We had more than 13 teams play (a few dropped out before the end), and 50 or so people in the mix (some of y'all just like to watch). Our amazing host, Dresden Engle, did a fantastic job posing the questions. Our teams did a great job answering them. Except for that tricky Broadway round. More on that in a minute...

Given that TriviaCity was part of the Rochester Fringe Festival, the questions for this quiz focused strictly on arts, entertainment, and Rochester. No sports or geography questions here. We had six rounds of eight questions each, plus five bonus questions. If you were the first to shove the correct bonus answer in my face, you got a sweet Fringe City t-shirt. Hot damn!

Round 1 was devoted to the Fringe Festival and its performers, and featured questions like this:

Question 5: Pulitzer Prize winner Dave Barry is the headliner for Friday's show Kodak Hall. In the mid-1990's CBS aired a sitcom based on his life, "Dave's World." What 1980's sitcom star played Barry on the show?

A good number of the teams wrote some variation of, "That dude from 'Night Court.'" Do you want to know what appeared on my answer sheet? Answer: Harry Anderson (do NOT accept "that dude from 'Night Court.'") Swear to god!

The average score for Round 1 was 3. The highest was 6. Things were not as rosy for Round 2, devoted to Broadway/pop mash-ups. It was modeled after the "Before and After" rounds on "Wheel of Fortune," but not exclusively using that mechanic. Basically I was looking for answers that fused together a showtune and a pop song that each featured the same word. For instance:

Question 3:Ann-Margaret's girl-power anthem in "Bye-Bye Birdie," mixed with Britney Spears' warning to cheating douchebags. (Answer: "How Lovely to Be a Womanizer.")

People were NOT having this round. I knew when I was writing the questions that people would either love it or hate it. Most people came down firmly on the side of "hate." The most common score for Round 2 was 1 (!) and we even had a few 0 scores. The highest score of 4 was shared by two teams, Joanie Loves Ciaccia and All Hail the Hypnotoad. But Joanie used its once-a-game Extra on this round, doubling its score - but screwing the team in the long run (spoiler!).

Dear readers, I knew I was in trouble when I stepped to the mic to reveal the answers for this round and was greeted with the white-hot daggers of rage flying out of the crowd's eye holes. We did have a minor kerfuffle when one member of the group -- who happens to be a totally awesome person -- challenged me on the following question:

Question 4:Maria teaches the Von Trapp kids the basics of music, and 2 Live Crew gets filthy while telling you about how long they'll love you (hint: it's a long time).

The answer I was going for was "Do-Re-Me So Horny" (my favorite answer in the game, by the way). Awesome Person in the Audience argued that the "Sound of Music" song is actually called "Doe a Deer." Not according to Amazon, Spotify, iTunes, or Wikipidea. But if someone can find an official source that says differently, I'll eat a Five Guys bacon cheeseburger with fries. Seriously, I'm begging you. Prove me wrong.

We got people back on board with Round 3, which featured fake personal ads by famous Rochesterians, past and present. So, for instance:

Question 4: I've been called a Black Sheep, I've been labeled a Foreigner, but I'm a Rochesterian, born and bred. I've found women can be as cold as ice. Now, I want to know what love is. Maybe I've been waiting for a girl like you. (Answer: Lou Gramm/Lou Grammatico)

Scores went WAY up this round, with most teams scoring 4 or better, and even two perfect scores, by Trivia Titans and Didier.

Round 4 was our visual puzzle, an art-history round in which City Newspaper's Mark Chamberlin photoshopped images from Miley Cyrus's recent VMA performances over classic works of art co-curated by City Art Critic Rebecca Rafferty. We could only call it..."Twerks of Art." (It's amazing what will come to you at 1:30 a.m., it really is.)

This was our only 16-point round, as we gave points for the correct artist AND correct title of work. Teams did well here in general, and several took the hint I gave at the start of the game to save their Extra score doubler for this opportunity. It literally changed the course of the game. All Hail the Hypnotoad missed just two points, and doubled the round, giving the team a whopping 28 points. Back From Belgium was just behind them with 24. Team Slothasaurus pulled up to the bumper, but not in a sexy Grace Jones way, with just 2 points this round.

Round 5 was titled Rochester ESCANDALO! and tested our quizzers on various scandals and crimes from Rochester's past. Teams did well this round in general -- average score was 5 -- and we got a perfect score from Dr. T. This question was well received by most teams:

Question 2: In 1984 a mass grave containing more than 700 bodies of people who died in the Monroe County Insane Asylum, Almshouse and Penitentiary was discovered in what popular Rochester park?

The answer is Highland Park. So remember, next time you're eating funnel cake at the Lilac Festival, you're basically eating carnival food in a cemetery. But the flowers sure are lovely!

The final round was entertainment news from the week past, featuring much broader, general pop-culture questions. Like:

Question 3: The current No. 1 movie in the country stars Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal, but it is not called "All the Gay Rumors." What IS the name of the film? (Answer: "Prisoners")

Most teams scored 6 or better on this round, and it elicited at least two actual shrieks of delight from a member of Joanie Loves Ciaccia. One was for a question regarding Anna Kendrick's casting in the "Into the Woods" film (the "Twilight" element of the question encouraged many teams to write Kristen Stewart, which was intentional, because I'm awful) and the other was about the Broadway show "Kinky Boots." So at least you got your cheap thrills, Rochester!

Apologies that the game dragged on a little longer than promised. I will tell you what, I have a new respect for Ryan Schofield, the poor bastard who runs the weekly trivia game my friends and I play in at Scotland Yard. Scoring is HARD, you guys, and when you have 50 people tapping their feet waiting for the answers, it gets intense.

Speaking of intense, we had a tie for second place. So we had to do a sudden-death tiebreaker between Back from Belgium and J Squared. The task was to name musicals written by the pair of Rodgers & Hammerstein. One look at J Squared's score on the Broadway/pop round (a 1!) would suggest that this put the team at a distinct disadvantage, and indeed, its representative whiffed it with an answer of "Showboat." The lovely lady from Belgium snatched victory with her correct answer of "Cinderella." Meanwhile, the members of Joanie Loves Ciaccia seethed over missing the showdown. They missed out on prize contention by 1 POINT! I know. It's tragic. Next time, folks!

Here are the final standings:

1. All Hail the Hypnotoad: 56 points (PRIZE: 2 tickets to Cirque du Fringe!)

2. Back from Belgium: 44 points (PRIZE: 2 tickets to Dave Barry!)

3. J Squared: 44 points (PRIZE: 2 tickets to Silent Disco!)

4. Joanie Loves Ciaccia: 43 points

5. Dr. T: 42 points

6. Trivia Titans: 41 points

7. Kate + Rob: 38 points

8. Good Old-Fashioned BlasianThrowdown: 36 points (team name of the night)

9. Past RPO-ers: 35 points

10. Last Place: 28 points

11. Didier: 23 points

Thank you again to our host, Dresden Engle, and to the Rochester Fringe Festival for inviting us and providing the awesome prizes. We were the only way to get tickets to Cirque du Fringe by Wednesday night, so if you didn't play, you were SOL, kids.

If you'd like to reassert your trivia dominance, I encourage you to come down to Scotland Yard Pub on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. for Geeks Who Drink trivia. Several of the City staffers, including the bastard who wrote those infuriating questions for TriviaCity (that'd be me) play on Team Fuck Mountain, and we love a good challenge. As the Rancho Carne Toros say, Bring it on!


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