In the meantime, something else happened. You may have seen a page on Facebook titled "The Simpsons Best Moments." It has over 277 000 likes at the time of writing and every post gets a buttload of shares. The creator of the page has started running Simpsons-themed Trivia nights that tour all over Australia. It came to Adelaide for the first time two weeks ago and it was a huge success. There were four shows on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday and every show was sold out. A friend of mine who went to one of the shows estimated that before expenses, the guy would have made about $25 000 across the four days.
What really caught my attention though was a particular comment I saw on the Saturday. It came from my friend Skip, who's the South Australian manager for Quiz Meisters (the pub trivia company I work for)...
"2 different people now have told me this Simpsons Quiz Night doing the rounds is the worst thing they have ever paid money for. Wow. I was originally keen to check it out as a quiz lover. Pleased I avoided it now. Anyone else been along?"
Underneath were a variety of comments claiming that the host had gotten blind drunk and was abusing people. People who hadn't been said that sounded awesome, but the people who had been strongly disagreed.
Well, maybe it's because of this Fear of Failure challenge I'm doing or maybe it's because I hadn't been working much lately. Maybe it's a skill that's been developing ever since I left high school. But in that thread I saw opportunity. If the guy hosting the quiz was doing an awful job, maybe there would be room for someone more professional to step in. Someone who perhaps already had experience hosting quiz nights. Someone named... I dunno, Michael or something. I did some Googling and found out the name of the organiser. It was a guy called Jarryd and his phone number was conveniently listed on the site. I wrote it down and then waited for Dad to get home. I needed to ask him a few questions.
I'll often ask questions that I already know the answer to. It's a good way of discovering if there's anything you haven't thought of. So when Dad got home, I explained the situation to him.
'How would I present myself to him. Should I mention the poor job that his host is doing?'
'I wouldn't. You don't know the situation. He might be friends with the host or the host might even be him.'
Wow, I actually hadn't thought of that. Maybe this guy Jarryd was travelling from state to state hosting the shows as well as organising them. I certainly couldn't ring him and tell him he was doing a bad job and that he should pay me to do it instead.
'Just find out as much as you can. If he is the one hosting them, then there's not much you can do. If he's not, then all you can do is ask.'
It took me a few days to work up the courage to call him. It's actually pretty nerve-wracking to phone someone who's never heard of you and ask them to pay you to do something for them. As it was, on Wednesday I needed to take my car in for emergency repairs and I found myself stranded for an hour with not much to do. I decided to make the call.
'Hello?' said a deep, slightly disgruntled voice on the other end.
'Hi, is this Jarryd?'
'Hi, my name's Michael, how are you?'
'I'm good thanks.'
'...That's good. I'm just ringing about these Simpsons quiz nights. How do they work?' He opened up a little bit at that point, but he still seemed a little peeved at the interruption.
'Well, you come along, we ask a bunch of Simpsons-themed questions.. and then you answer them.' There was a dry laugh in his voice as if he wanted to add "What are you, stupid?"
'I just mean are there rounds, are there games as well...'
'Ah okay, well there are three rounds, they're mostly written questions but we've got some video segments as well. The winning teams get pub vouchers and coupons.'
'Okay, and do you host it?'
'That I do.' I couldn't tell if the tone of voice he used was pride or still annoyance.
'So what do you do, just fly from state to state, hosting them all yourself?'
'Nah, I've set up a host for each state, and I'm looking to go abroad as well, like London and Dublin. The plan is to set them all up to run on their own so I can just live off the income and just spend my time writing the questions.'
'Oh, you right the questions too?'
'It's all me.' I still couldn't tell if it was pride or annoyance.
'Man, you've got it sorted,' I mused.
'Fucking right I do.' I had no idea where to go from there, so I just came out and said it:
'Okay because I was wondering if you needed a new host for South Australia...'
'Ah sorry mate, I've already got South Australia sorted. I sub-contract it to a comedian in each state, so I've found a guy called Big Al who'll run it from now on. I don't mind if he wants to get in some help or whatever.'
I know Big Al. He's literally one of the first comedians to ever make a name for himself in SA. He's a legend of the stand-up scene. I've seen him perform a bunch of times, but I'm not sure we've properly met. He also happens to be one of the board members at Fresh 92.7, the radio station where I volunteer. Last time I checked, he had a shift on-air on Saturday mornings. After getting off the phone with Jarryd, I called up Kristy, the administrator for the station, to confirm that he was still doing that shift, then I resolved to "bump into him" there that morning.
So yesterday I woke up and without even showering, brushing my teeth or having breakfast, I threw on yesterday's clothes and drove into the city. Al's shift would finish at 9, so any delay and I would miss him. The moment I walked into the studio he grinned and greeted me in a warm, excited way as if we were old friends who hadn't seen each other in ages. We started chatting about the station, about comedy, and about trivia. It turned out he used to work for Quiz Meisters too, which I found to be a pleasant surprise. When we got to the Simpsons Trivia nights, he mentioned how offputting he had found Jarryd to be. He'd had to have a word with Jarryd after one of the shows to explain that punters get put off if a host is too drunk. I liked Al so much that I found it a relief rather than a hindrance to know that Al wasn't the one being unprofessional.
'So will you ever need help with those quiz nights?' I eventually asked.
'Yeah absolutely! I'll give you my number and you can send me a text so I'll have yours, and when the next lot of shows is announced, I'll give you a call.'
We exchanged numbers and kept chatting until the end of his shift. I even noticed he was missing some of the moments he was meant to be talking on air because we were both chatting so animatedly. We talked about footy too, and he's one of those rare gems who supports one of the two South Australian teams but doesn't hate the other one. Yet another reason to like him. After we parted ways, I texted him a joke so that he had my number and he thanked me for the chat.
I'm not exactly counting this as a win just yet. It's easy to just say "Yeah I'll call you" and never follow through. But it's a possibility, and I'm glad I managed to get that much out of it. Maybe it will work.