love of minutiae, hours on Wikipedia, a chance to bust on
customers—the makings of a popular trivia night
Ali Hibbs and Elizabeth Knapp
On any given night of the week, Capital Region bargoers can
find at least three different bars hosting a trivia event,
which is sure to draw a crowd. Every bar has its own style,
and many local venues have had consistent success in terms
of attendance and general enthusiasm. Albany’s Bombers Burrito
Bar is a venue that exemplifies the intensity of the region’s
trivia craze, bringing arcane knowledge and trash-talking
hosts to Lark Street for almost 10 years.
After almost a decade, Bombers is still packed on Tuesday
nights. Die-hard regulars often show up hours before the game
even starts, to be sure they get a seat. They play for free
drinks and prizes as well as good, old-fashioned rivalry and
bragging rights. As trivia nights across the country are being
outsourced by new companies that specialize in running such
events for venues who have neither the time nor the talent
to devote, Bombers seems to be one of the only bars left that
still has that homegrown feel. Hosts are typically hired from
within and players are able to vote on some of the categories
for the following week.
one of those people who remembers weird shit,” says Tom Templeton,
who attended Bombers’ trivia nights religiously for three
years. He kept coming back for the questions and the atmosphere.
Templeton started going to Bombers’ trivia seven years ago,
around the time that ‘Tequila’ Jeff Klampert was the host.
Original host of the bygone Bombers Bingo Night, Klampert
was offered the trivia gig in 2004, following the raucous
success of the often-bawdy bingo nights. “It was doing well
before I started hosting,” says Klampert, mentioning that
the two-for-one drink specials virtually guaranteed customers.
“But we doubled or tripled the crowd.” Quick-witted and disarming,
Klampert excelled at entertaining the crowd and diffusing
drunk tempers. Never shy about abusing his audience, Klampert
says that he also made sure that everyone knew that it was
all in good fun. That was the best part of the job, he says.
“I got paid to drink and make fun of people. I like being
able to rag on people and joke around. It’s nice because when
someone messes with a guy with a microphone, they’re going
to lose every time.” His least favorite part, he says, was
the actual writing of the questions; he credits his former
co-host, Joe Bellacosa, with more enthusiasm in that area.
“He likes that kind of stuff.”
Bellacosa began co-hosting with Klampert in 2005. “I basically
got the job because Jeff and I were friends and he knows that
I know a lot of stupid stuff.” For the first year and a half,
he was writing 90 percent of the questions. Five years later,
Bellacosa is still there, joined now by Vinny Fiacco.
fun,” says Bellacosa. “It’s become a part of my week, like
it’s part of every trivia player’s week. I like to think about
the questions and categories and then come in and see them
play out in front of people. And they come back every week,
which is the ultimate judgment of whether they’re enjoying
themselves.” Bellacosa even has inspiration when it comes
to the questions. “Want to know my influences? Socrates, Popeye,
John Locke, and Link Martindale,” he says.
Rookie trivia host Fiacco, who also hosts the trivia night
at the new Bombers location in Schenectady, agrees with Klampert
about the perks of being the guy with the mic.
best part of the job? Definitely being able to say whatever
I want into the microphone—and getting away with it. I’m not
particularly mean, but I get to say whatever I want and people
are like, ‘Yay, trivia guy!’ And that is just glorious.”
According to Klampert, the idea to let the audience choose
some of the categories was a direct result of Keanu Reaves.
“Sometimes we would run out of ideas and be like, ‘I don’t
know what the heck I’m going to write about!’ It actually
started because we did a round on Keanu Reaves, because he’s
a terrible actor. And Joe and I thought it would be funny
to keep doing rounds on really bad actors.” After a while,
they began letting the audience choose the actors and, eventually,
While some bars compile seemingly random questions and assign
point values based on their level of difficulty, Bombers’
trivia format is pretty straightforward. They have six categories
with 10 questions—each worth one point.
Fiacco and Bellacosa now split the work of writing the questions
every week, they each take three categories and scour Wikipedia
and other sources for questions and answers. They choose four
or five categories and allow players to vote on the remaining
categories for the following week. This gives people time
to study up on a particular topic, says Fiacco, and provides
a compelling reason to return. He knows he can’t hold back
with the difficulty of the questions, since Bombers trivia
fans are up for a challenge. “Some people will print out entire
Wikipedia articles and bring them in to study before the game,”
he says. “It’s pretty serious.”
to Bar Guide >>