The 56th annual Great Midwest Trivia Contest thrived over the weekend in its first all-digital edition.
Forced to make changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the team of trivia masters led by Head Master Grace Krueger ’21 stayed true to many of the weird and beloved traditions that have been part of the contest for five and a half decades. Bizarre questions that focus on information searches, useless prizes, nods to the contest’s history, and interactions between players and trivia masters all lived on.
“All in all, the weekend went fantastically well,” Krueger said. “Despite some hiccups that are always going to happen with the adaption of new technology and the restrictions we were under this year, the contest was a complete success and we are so proud of what we pulled off.”
For a wider sampling of the 2021 trivia contest, see this playlist.
With the WLFM studio unavailable and trivia masters socially distanced, the contest was held on Twitch. The action questions were all virtual and players called in answers via a virtual phone line on a Discord server.
“Teams adapted to all the changes this year so well, and we want to thank them for learning with us,” Krueger said.
What, if any, changes will be rolled into the traditional format next year will be at the direction of Riley Newton ’22, who was announced as the head master for the 2022 contest.
Despite going all-digital and teams not being able to gather together per usual, this year’s contest remained a big draw. It drew 77 off-campus teams and 14 on-campus teams, featuring a total of 551 players.
Here are the winning teams (yes, the tradition of long and strange names continued):
1: Team 3, At this point, Why not trust an Aquarius Microwaving and Peeling and why IS [REDACTED] ON FIRE-oh yes, YES, Flambéing and society of bones and pyromaniacs (owo) cinematic Universe (TM). The previous name has burst into flames; like a phoenix from the ashes has risen as a virgo: 1,650
2: Team 1, The Gaming House Special Featuring the Nipples of Knowledge: 1,415
3: Team 6, joe and ethan funtime bonanza team: 1,315
1: Team 135, Delguigi: 1,710
2: Team 112, are you the onesie #comfycrew: 1,665
3: Team 106, Hobgoblin of Little Minds: This One is for Sheila: 1,650
The Super Garuda was among the traditions that continued. The Super Garuda is annually a weirdly obscure question that serves as the final question of the weekend and then as the first question of the following year’s contest. Here’s your head start for 2022:
Q: The person who installed Pepsi machines on set played a Prohibition agent in a black-and-white film where Peter sets out to prove that he isn’t a boob. The title of this silent comedy is a featured comical word in a 2018 linguistics paper published by Canadian university researchers. A building at this university is named after a man whose last name is the first name of an actor who played a one-eyed man in a movie once described as having “all the appeal of a seaweed sandwich.” In this building, there is a large room on the mechanical floor directly below 2A2. In the southwest corner of the room, a red, graffiti-covered beam crosses the path near a door. A message is written on the wall next to the beam informing the reader of their odor. What, according to the author, do you smell like?
(It was answered correctly by Team 142: Beedough Beedough Beedough.)
Ed Berthiaume is director of public information at Lawrence University. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Older than the Super Bowl and liberally sprinkled with questions that make explaining the Higgs Boson look easy, the Lawrence trivia contest is the nation’s longest-running salute to all things obscure.
The contest returns in all its inconsequential glory Friday, Jan. 27 at its customary 10:00.37 p.m. start time and runs until midnight Sunday. The contest, just as it has for the past 11 years, will be webcast worldwide from the control room of wlfmradio.
Nearly 400 questions will be asked over the course of the contest, with hundreds, if not thousands of trivia addicts playing for on-campus and off-campus teams, calling in answers to the WLFM studios. Last year, 86 teams battled it out for the off-campus title, which was won by Hobgoblins of Little Minds, a team based in North Carolina. Among on-campus combatants, David and the Bucky’s Batallion Diabolically Antagonizing Tortured Brood-Makers, Basically Building Batteries, Bungee Jumping Blindfolded, Bizarrely Bludgeoning Bells and Definitely Ascending toward Brilliance By Dastardly Battling Together outlasted 18 challengers for its second straight title.
Tankersley, who went from playing as a freshman to serving as a trivia master the past two contests, tried to pull a fast one in 2012. As a visiting prospective student, Tankersley conspired with a current student to apply as a trivia master.
“We thought it would be funny if we both auditioned to be trivia masters,” said Tankersley, who was a member of the winning on-campus team his freshman year. “I pretended to be a Lawrence student. My visit roommate gave me a fake Lawrence ID number and his room number. I went through the whole process, including an interview. I heard I came close to being picked. I think people were quite surprised when they realized I was back in Arizona finishing high school.”
As he gets ready to settle in to the big chair for the weekend, Tankersley hopes to remind players of the contest’s credo: Trivia is meant to be entertainment and should be perceived solely in that light.
“I’ve seen the focus put on competitiveness, not the enjoyment of playing and I want to see it go back to that,” said Tankersley, who figures he’ll only manage to sneak in eight hours of sleep during the course of the 50-hour contest. “I want it to be on the front of everyone’s mind that people are playing because it’s fun and trivia masters are doing what they do because it’s fun.”
While technology has perhaps eroded some of the contest’s original, simple charm, its core spirit — a weird, yet at the same time weirdly logical experience — remains untarnished.
“You’re in a room with waxing and waning numbers of other teammates, but you’re all there doing the same thing,” said Tankersley, whose dad played as the one-man team “Square Root of All Evil” from Arizona last year. “People take it seriously and it’s inspiring that they do, finding the fun in this weird thing.
“It’s really all about the community of playing,” he added. “It’s about spending time with your friends on the weekend, and maybe coming out of it with a bad prize. It’s all about the experience.”
Appleton native Kim Stahl knows all about trivia’s “community of playing.” She began playing the trivia contest when she was in elementary school and started a team in sixth grade. Today, she and her best friend Heidi Delorey are co-ring leaders of a team that numbers around four dozen multiple-generation players from as many as 10 states who annually converge on her home — in Chapel Hill, N.C.
Stahl, who has approximately 35 years of notches in her trivia belt, and her merry band of “Hobgoblins,” have benefited from the contest’s switch from an over-the-air broadcast to its current webcast, allowing her to maintain a beloved, decades-old tradition.
“We just love playing. We love the contest. It’s a lot of fun and it makes for a wonderful reunion,” said Stahl, a 1991 graduate of Appleton West High School. “And we love the fact that all of these Lawrence students have kept it going all these years. It’s such a unique college tradition.”
Despite her long history with the contest, Stahl first cued the DJ to play “We are the Champions” in 2015, the contest’s 50th anniversary. They successfully defended their title last year and now are gunning for a coveted “threepeat.”
“We are firmly intending to hit the hat trick this year,” said Stahl, whose own personal trivia tradition involves filling her front yard with pink flamingos the weekend of the contest. “After never expecting to win for the first 30-some years, that would be a crowning jewel.”
Following trivia tradition, Lawrence President Mark Burstein, will start the fun by asking the contest’s first question, which, also by tradition, is always the final — and virtually unanswerable 100-point “Super Garruda” — from the previous year’s contest.
For one of the few times in the contest’s history, last year’s Super Garruda was correctly answered by the Trivia Pirates…Aaarrrggh. They somehow managed to come up Earwigs Rule to the question: In 1964, a band pretended to play Beatles songs at a battle of the bands called the Letterman Show. What is written in the top right corner of the page that features the band in a KWSS DJ’s copy of the lead singer’s 1965 high school yearbook?
Here are a few “softballs” to help everyone get warmed up for this year’s contest.
In 1988, students at the University College in Dublin broke a record by debating, for 503 hours and 45 minutes, what statement?
At this toy themed amusement park in San Diego, what guards the entrance to the ride immediately south of the easternmost green roller coaster?
The leader of a one-man comedy synth punk band also has a website dedicated to images of a certain household object. What is BigJerk’s lamp thinking?
(1. “Every Dog Should Have Its Day” 2. A 16-foot tall LEGO pharaoh 3. “I hate the zoo.”)
AboutLawrenceUniversity Founded in 1847, Lawrence University uniquely integrates a college of liberal arts and sciences with a nationally recognized conservatory of music, both devoted exclusively to undergraduate education. It was selected for inclusion in the book “Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About College.” Engaged learning, the development of multiple interests and community outreach are central to the Lawrence experience. Lawrence draws its 1,500 students from nearly every state and more than 50 countries.