Many New Yorkers welcome Pat Kiernan into their homes every morning as he anchors the news for NY1, but did you know he will challenge you with trivia questions in person right here in the neighborhood?
For nearly three years, Kiernan, who grew in popularity in part by reading the daily papers on the news that he’s anchored since 1997, has been working with TrivWorks on a series of trivia nights at The Bell House. The crowd enjoys multiple rounds of team trivia, which he hosts, and a raffle puts one lucky contestant onstage for one-on-one trivia with Kiernan, who was at the helm of the awesome but short-lived World Series of Pop Culture on VH1, and who’s made no secret he’d love to replace fellow Canadian Alex Trebek on Jeopardy once the host retires.
In advance of the fun evening of chilly trivia that awaits during the Polar Cortex event on Tuesday, December 2, we asked Kiernan what goes into planning the questions and whether cold-blooded Canadians will have an advantage this time around, what his neighborhood of Williamsburg could take away from Park Slope, and more.
Pat Kiernan: I can’t remember where I learned about what TrivWorks was doing, but when I heard about the company it seem like a great fit as a follow-up to what I had done as host of World Series of Pop Culture on VH1. It’s been a great collaboration with our combination of live ticketed events and private corporate events.
I understand you collaborate with TrivWorks’ David Jacobson a bit on the questions for the trivia events — what’s one of the most challenging things about coming up with good ones?
The toughest thing with writing trivia questions is finding the “sweet spot” where a question is difficult enough to be challenging but not so difficult that it seems impossible. We also have to pay a lot of attention to the way our pop culture reference points are more fragmented these days. A video game topic may be easy for one person and completely off the radar for someone else.
For the Polar Vortex event, do you think people from colder climates will have an advantage with the questions — be honest, is this one skewed in favor of Canadians?
If we held the event outside then it would skew in favor of Canadians. As it is, we’re just choosing questions from movies, TV, and music that have some sort of winter or holiday connection, so I think non-Canadians will do just fine.
How do you manage anchoring the news, hosting a radio show, and manning a trivia night?
I spend a lot of time juggling all three on email and a lot of time on the L train. In some ways the three things are all complementary. If I’m plugged in to what’s topical that can provide material for NY1, WABC radio, or the trivia events.
How close are we to seeing you replace Alex Trebek on Jeopardy?
One thing at a time. My main goal with that job is just to get an audition when the time comes. I think I’d be really good at it, but that’s easy to say when you’re just watching on TV.
You’re pretty popular at The Bell House — I’ve seen positive Pat Kiernan graffiti in the ladies room there — and around NYC. What’s one of the more unusual encounters you’ve ever had with a fan?
I was on vacation in California and got an urgent message from a group of fans that they were required to submit a selfie with a celebrity. I sent them a picture with me holding up their team name in lieu of actually standing with them. I never did find out whether the judges accepted that one.
We recently interviewed your colleague and local resident Grace Rauh, who, like yourself, moved to Brooklyn from Manhattan. Is Brooklyn the most popular borough for NY1 employees at this point? And what do you think has been the draw for those of you who have made the move?
I think we’ve got a pretty good mix of people from all five boroughs, but a lot of my colleagues who have bought real estate in the past few years have bought in Brooklyn. I think the attraction is simple: great quality of life at a (slightly) more affordable price point than Manhattan.
What’s one thing from Park Slope that would you want to see in your Williamsburg neighborhood?
Can you move the park? Truly — that’s one of the things that residents of Park Slope must not take for granted. I lived near Central Park for years and we miss the proximity to the park. We’re grateful for McCarren Park in Williamsburg, but it’s a fraction the size of Prospect Park.
Anything else you’d like readers to know?
The Bell House trivia events capture exactly what I love about Brooklyn. They’re not fancy. They’re just fun. And we get a nice sense of the community we live in. It’s one of the few chances I have to see NY1 viewers in person, so the breaks before and after the formal on-stage portions of the event are fun for me as well.
Gather some clever friends and dive into trivia with Pat Kiernan during Polar Cortex on Tuesday, December 2, at 7pm at The Bell House, 149 7th Street. Tickets are $26 and are available in advance — note they do tend to sell out. Also, there will be a movie crew filming during this event — it will not disrupt the show, but some portions of the audience may appear as background.