If you've ever played bar trivia in or around the Twin Cities, you need to thank Chuck Terhark and Sean McPherson. Because chances are it's their show.
Five years ago, Terhark and McPherson got together at the 331 Club and decided to start a trivia night. Since that time the duo, now known as part of the Trivia Mafia, have expanded their empire, hosting 26 pub nights each week at various bars around the Twin Cities, as well as corporate gigs and weddings.
This weekend, the men behind such drunken (and super fun) disasters as "The Drinkin' Spelling Bee" and "hip-hop charades" will celebrate their five-year anniversary (FYI: this is considered the "wood" anniversary in the traditional anniversary gift timeline) with a big blowout back at their 331 Club home base. The event will feature some classic bar trivia, special celebrity guests, and the debut of a new concoction called "unfair-aoke." To preview the event, McPherson spoke with us earlier this week about how far they've come and where they're heading in the future (hint: it doesn't involve cocaine).
How big of a deal is it for you and Chuck to make it to five years of trivia?
To me, this is our first big milestone of creating something people really like and look forward to being a part of. It's also the five-year anniversary of me and Chuck's friendship. For us, this is something really fun that we get to do with our friends, and it turns out a lot of other people look forward to it as well.
McPherson and Terhark
Photo by Becca Dilley
How many events are you putting on each week?
Right now we're at 26 trivia nights each week. That includes everything from Old Chicago and Cafeteria in Uptown, to some of the Green Mill's just outside the cities, to the 331 Club; all over.
Twenty-six nights? Are you ever sober?
I'm actually profoundly more sober now than I was five years ago. I go to a lot of the events to make sure they're going well, but I learned a while ago that you don't want to run an event where you need to be drunk to do it.
The big five-year anniversary party this Sunday sounds pretty wild. What are some of the highlights?
One thing we've done for our anniversary every year is make our own goofy movie and show it at the event, then ask trivia questions about the movie. The first year we did it, we didn't have a script or a concept or anything. We just met for breakfast, and by the time we left we knew what we wanted to do. Since then it's always just been a bunch of crazy stuff, like me riding around on a tricycle without my shirt on in the middle of winter, stuff like that.
Sounds pretty epic. You also have some special guests coming by, right?
Yeah, it's actually a pretty bold move. Some of the DJs from The Current are going to sit onstage and participate, and they're going to bring prizes for everyone who gets a better score than they do.
Yeah, we're going to debut a brand-new game we're calling "unfair-aoke" that's just like karaoke except that the audience can see the words to the song but the singer can't. We'll see how it goes.
Now that you've made it to five years, what's the plan for the future?
Our next step is to cautiously move into regional markets. There are a lot of people who came out here to go to school at the U and then moved out of the area, and we'd like to create events where they are now. At the same time, our plan is to keep taking care of the regulars we get at 331 Club and here around town, with cool prizes and new games. Like I said though, we're going to expand very cautiously and with the best intentions. It's not like we're going to move out to L.A. and pick up coke habits and try to become trivia kings out there, and we're not going to try and expand to like 85 bars in the next 15 years. We want to hold events in places that make sense for us and nurture our Twin Cities faithful.
IF YOU GO:
Trivia Mafia's 5 Year Anniversary Extravaganza
331 Club (331 13th Ave. NE)
Sunday, Jan. 29, 8-11 p.m.