When I started to do some stand-up in NYC in 1999, right out of the gate I was fortunate enough to be taken under the wing of Jim Florentine. Most of you know Jim from his portrayal of the mentally challenged puppet Special Ed on Crank Yankers, his frequent Howard Stern appearances, and as a co-host on VH1 Classic’s That Metal Show.
It was either '99 or 2000 when I got a call from Jim, “Darren. I’m doing this show in Delaware. The guy who runs it will let you do some time, if you wanna go.” I was like, “Delaware? What place?” Jim says, “This place called Klondike Kate’s.” I obviously said, “I’m there,” and thusly met Geno Bisconte, UD '90.
I can barely remember how that “Comedy at Kate’s” show went, but it was solid enough for Geno to continue to run it here and there through 2006. I became fast friends with Genererrerrr, and trekked down from NYC to do the Kate’s show maybe five or six times during that span; some comedy nights were great, some were kinda dead. All contingent on what else was competing with Kate’s that night, up and down Main Street.
Anyway, let’s talk about 2001. Geno was well known in the PA / South Jersey / DE comedy circle (still is), and, in that region, worked a lot of shows with NYC based comedians on what are classified (by New York guys) as “road gigs.” Understandably, Geno made the decision that he wanted to elevate beyond the perception of being just a “road comic,” and told me he was moving up to New York, to try and work the REAL rooms. He was moving up to the majors.
Right before this move, though, Geno told me that he and his partner-in-crime Dan Healy started something on Mondays at Kate’s called “Quizzo.” It became so successful so quickly, that Geno adjusted his move to NYC; he did move, but still spent half of each week down in Delaware…of course that half of the week included Quizzo Mondays.
I was like, “Dude, either REALLY move, or don’t.” Meaning, if Geno was serious about raising his game by working the NYC comedy clubs, he needed to be consistently in them, right? Half-assed wouldn’t work. But at the time, I didn’t really get what Quizzo was…until I saw the (entertaining) carnage with my own two eyes.
After witnessing Quizzerererrrr, I totally understood Geno splitting his week. Quizzo was a fun time, relatively easy to run, made him some good dough (for a Monday gig)…and I can’t argue with being in a room full of UD girls. And it all worked out for Geno anyway: he later shifted his focus to the NYC rooms, and is now a regular at clubs around town, including Caroline’s on Broadway.
Well, when I told Geno I was compiling Glory Days at Delaware, I was like, “There’s gonna be a chapter basically for each bar…can you write up a little something on Quizzo for the Kate’s chapter?” Geno responded with his stock, “I’m on it buddy!” And then of course took like eight months to do it.
After harassing Geno maybe twenty times for just a few paragraphs, he finally emails me with like twelve pages in Microsoft Word. Yes, what follows is indeed edited. Let me ask you this: can you believe QUIZZO warrants is own chapter?! This website is ridiculous.
Kate’s Quizzo started as a simple beer promotion wrapped around a trivia game. I suppose when Dan and I started it in Spring of 2001, it was about 70% trivia, 30% beer promotion. But by the time we hit our stride and began incorporating “Quizzo Girls,” the “Quizzo Wheel of Death,” the iPod, and everything else, I would say that Quizzo had become about 80% drunken radio show, with a 20% chance of trivia. Our regulars knew it and loved it, but we still got an occasional table or two coming out expecting a trivia show. They seldom returned. And a few times they were even thrown out.
Whether you were a regular in the course of our original five-year run at Kate’s (with a brief nine-month hiatus), or one of the countless simple folk that visited once, I do not know. I only know that for five years I was lucky enough to go back to the University of Delaware’s Main Street and get my tuition back in weekly installments.
Probably my best trait -- and worst as my girlfriend will attest to -- is my ADD-esque short attention span. So, I have no notes or archives or any special place in my mind where one story takes more precedence than the next. Each week was simply Quizzo; from the fondest memories of the Barenaked Ladies stopping by after their show on campus in 2001 (Digger’s Note: Full story towards the end of this chapter!), or the more humbling and idiotic night which ended with me in the ER after trying to jump a parking meter and separating my shoulder.
I apologize if these stories are too personal, but for all the fanfare Quizzo was (and still is, in Wilmington every Tuesday), I am sure most of your fondest memories are what transpired at your table amongst your friends. That is, and was, the beauty of Quizzo. While the show was taking place onstage, just as entertaining a time was being shared at your table.
So while I am sure you have your favorite memories from the shows, what follows are a few of mine in no particular order. It is my hope that you were actually at a few of these shows, so they may even take on an added meaning to you. Regardless, I think anyone who has been to Quizzo even once, will certainly remember Dan and me well enough to enjoy these stories.
Now the basic premise of Quizzo is simple. You and your friends (your team) would sit together at a table upstairs at Kate’s, and before each round we’d pass out answer sheets. Four rounds, ten trivia questions each round…Dan and I would read the questions into a mic from the stage. You and your teammates would fill in the answer sheet, and at the end of the round, hand it in for us to “grade.” The team that won each round got a free pitcher. The overall winner for the night got a $25 gift certificate.
Did I say the premise was “simple?” I should say, “boring.” I mean, how thrilling is it, knowing that if you should win the round, that exactly ONE single pitcher of ice cold Bud Light awaits you? One day Dan and I decided to spice it up a bit and added a little “chance” to this equation.
Scientific research has verified what most college men have always already suspected: drunken college chicks like shiny things and lots of quick random action. Given this fact, I thought, “What if we were to combine these two phenomenon into a shiny metal wheel that spins around, and offers said spinner a chance at more Bud Light (or less Bud Light), but mostly a ton of other ridiculous things in-between?” What follows is a couple of the wheel’s spaces, a story or two that stand out from each, and some other non-wheel highlights.
As you can imagine -- or hopefully recall from your Monday night frequenting of Kate’s -- anyone landing on this space on the wheel would have to ingest something or do something ridiculous. If they did, they got TWO pitchers, if they did not, they forfeited their pitcher. Of course, given our love of showmanship and no shortage of drunk idiots, we offered the chance to anyone. There was always someone willing.
The early days of Fear Factor involved Dan or I running to the kitchen to create a disgusting mix of condiments, which some kid would eagerly “one-time” after we dumped it into half a glass of beer, to impress / gross-out the chicks at his table. I mean, what chick doesn’t want to go home with a guy that could puke relish and hummus all over her University Courtyard apartment, or at least burp up a Kate’s nacho during the stagger down Main Street?
However, out of boredom our best Fear Factor innovations would come. One summer night at Quizzo, Dan was telling me how in the warmer weather he likes to apply an ever-so-light amount of what he called the “Green Gold Bond Powder” to his nether regions, so that when he is bartending or golfing there is no chafing. Well, before I could point out that I had no idea what he was talking about, a Kate’s bartender said that not only did he do the same thing to keep his jewels moistened, but kept the precious green bottled powder atop the bar. Ironically, right next to a seldom used liquor called “Dry Sack.” True story.
For those not familiar with the family of Gold Bond products, there are three: basic Gold Bond comes in a gold container and is simply cornstarch powder. The light blue Gold Bond is a foot powder. But the Gold Bond in the green container is a medicated powder. Its active ingredient is some kind of burning / cooling agent. But, certain parts of the body are averse to heat, and I would say the top five in descending order: the bottom of the feet, the top of the head, the balls, the balls and the balls.
I tried it. On my balls. Upon application for the first second or so, I could understand why my two friends and countless others would do this, but it was about two seconds later that my testicles began to sear like the embers of a grill. Of course, as the crowd watched on, everybody had a really good laugh. Dare I say there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. Of course, everyone else was crying tears of joy…as opposed to my tears of a lost innocence.
We had our newest Fear Factor innovation. People would be clamoring for Fear Factor, and guys were dying to impress the Quizzo crowd with how much powder they could sustain on their genitalia. And they never disappointed. I mean, while I had placed a golf ball sized mound into my hand, these eager men applied mounds to their testicles that would make Scarface blush. Of course, we always checked The Review the following day to see if some girl had been rushed to Newark Emergency with third degree powder burns to her face and tonsils. If anyone has an article attesting to such, please send it to me, care of www.genobisconte.com.
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