Philadelphia: Birthplace of American democracy, Will Smith and, according to conventional wisdom, Quizzo—the live trivia game that’s a staple of the bar scene. And much more fun to play the drunker you get. For the past few months, the Grape Room in Manayunk has been packing ’em in upstairs on Wednesday nights by putting a musical spin on things with their Rock ‘n’ Roll Quizzo, hosted by the enigmatic quizmaster known only as Quiz Quiztofferson. We spent a few minutes with the man himself to find out what makes him tick:
How’d you get started with Rock ‘n’ Roll Quizzo?
Before I was Quiz Quiztofferson, I was just this sad shell of a man, this sort of pathetic little guy who would come home and get beaten by his wife and yelled at by his kids. I was never good at sports, but the one thing I was good at was Jeopardy. And then one day I was on the Internet and I learned about this thing called Quizzo and suddenly I’d found a place for my useless music knowledge. I just had to find the right arena. I read the Keith Richards biography before I ever started doing Quizzo, thinking, “What’s it like to be a rock star?” He kept saying, “I was in the right place at the right time.” Now I know how he feels.
What’s the Philly Quizzo scene like?
The Philadelphia Quizzo scene, if I could sum it up in one word: Playa-haters. A couple times when I’ve been leaving the Grape Room I’ve been jumped by fellow quizmasters, questions stolen, and then my questions turn up a week later at some other Quizzo. I’m lookin’ at you, Quizzolord. It’s rough out here.
Is this the only Rock ’n’ Roll Quizzo in Philly?
This might be the only Rock ’n’ Roll Quizzo in the world.
What’s the wildest thing you’ve seen happen at a Rock ’n’ Roll Quizzo?
One time, Pete the bartender had to throw out these two girls that were going at it right on the bar. They show up, I’m playing some Quiet Riot and some Queensrÿche between rounds. I could tell they were loosening up as the questions started coming. Pretty soon their shirts were off and they were making out. I think it might have been my ’90s trivia round that did it. They were screaming, “More Nirvana trivia! More Nirvana trivia!”
Why Manayunk? Why the Grape Room?
That’s a great question. Probably because they asked me.
How do you come up with questions? Any kind of special training?
Well, at the end of December I went out to Taos, New Mexico for about a month. They have this thing called the “Visionquizzo.” You go out there and it’s run by this really cool American Indian guy and there was a lot of acupuncture, but the needles were on fire. So as they were sticking them in, a lot of questions came to me and I was furiously writing them down. I’m not sure any of them are factual, but I’m going to ask all of them. The peyote might have had something to do with it.
What kinds of people come out to Rock ’n’ Roll Quizzo?
It’s pretty much a mix. My ideal audience would be super-nerd music people and then I could jam out. But because I have really hot girls with giant breasts coming here, they don’t know anything about music. All they know about is Lady Gaga and the Punky Brewster theme song. So sometimes I do a round for the nerds, and the rest are for the ladies.
Any local musicians ever show up for Quizzo night?
Actually, John Oates’ mustache showed up one time—that was exciting. I wouldn’t let the Hooters in. Nice guys, but you know, I have standards.
Are you afraid they would break into song?
Yes. I’m terrified that they would. My dream would be to have Kenn Kweder here. I would do a whole Kweder round. Kenn Kweder is welcome here anytime. Nutter, too. I think Nutter could tear it up. I’ve heard Nutter rap.
I hear you do a drum-solo round occasionally?
Yes. I love drums, and I’m not going to stop saying that. I love drums. And I love drum solos. I think if you come here and you don’t know drum solos, why are you even showing up?
Are you trying to expand your Rock ’n’ Roll Quizzo empire?
I’m going at this the way Genghis Khan did. Like, the Grape Room is Mongolia and Port Richmond is Hungary. I’m making my way across Philadelphia one Quizzo night at a time. I’ll get to some bar, circle it, let people surrender, and if they don’t, I’ll hit them with the entire might of rock ‘n’ roll trivia. I will attack.
Wednesdays. 8:30pm. Free. Grape Room, 105 Grape St. 215.930.0321. graperoommusic.wordpress.com