By Michael Radoslav
Packing in a crowd of hundreds to standing room capacity, with virtually no advertising or promotion, Andrew Ennals and Amanda Factor must feel like the man who single-handedly built the rocket and flew to the moon. What was his name, Apollo Creed?
Ennals and Factor are the creators of the insanely popular Simpson’s trivia night, held the second Tuesday of every month at the Gladstone Hotel.
The two friends are huge fans of the show themselves, so much so that Ennals described their get-togethers as just “throwing Simpson’s quotes at each other in whatever conversation we were having.”
Factor said their emails would turn into “quote-a-thons,” and this led to the idea of starting a trivia challenge.
“It came along at the right time because trivia is so hot right now,” Factor said. “We were on the cusp of the whole explosion.”
The two were shocked that a Simpsons trivia night was not already being held in Toronto, and began one at The Ossington last year. With an unexpectedly high turnout, they quickly moved to the Gladstone two months later.
The new venue has not fared much better. “We thought there would be enough space,” Ennals said with a laugh. “There was for about 15 minutes.”
“It’s awesome,” said Jeremy Vandermeij, the Gladstone’s creative director. “Every single seat in the Melody Bar is taken, and we put in extra seats.”
The night is about entertaining the fans that congregate to bask in the warm glow of their favourite episodes from seasons 1 through 11. The hosts pick three episodes to play throughout the evening; in between each episode, they ask a round of questions.
The winning team receives the highly sought-after prize of a table for their team on the stage—a valuable commodity on a busy night that doesn’t take reservations.
John Semley started coming out last September and has been back every month since. Semley says it’s intense among the teams at the top to the point where it’s almost like a professional league. “I don’t play sports so to be honest it’s nice to have something I’m good at,” he said.
Regardless of the competition, participants revel in watching episodes together, reciting quotes in unison, singing songs from the show, and relaxing in the company of fellow Simpsons nerds.
The lively crowd is also fuelled by alcohol, which Homer Simpson once famously described as the cause of—and solution to—all of life’s problems. For the night, the Gladstone renames one of its regular draughts Duff Beer in honour of the occasion, Vandermeij said.
Due to its overwhelming success, the Gladstone is putting together a Futurama trivia night, a tribute to another Matt Groening creation, which is scheduled to begin Tuesday, September 27.