Meet Your Quizmaster: Jenna RiediTurducken Cupcake
For this week's episode of Meet Your Quizmaster, I travel (figuratively, via the magic of the internet) to Fort Collins, Colorado to speak with the area's foremost quizmistress not named Mallory. Join me as I dive into the mind (again, figuratively) of Jenna Riedi!
Hi Jenna! Let's get this party started. I understand you moved from Austin to Fort Collins recently. What prompted the move?
Yes! I moved last June for an awesome job opportunity. I was looking to leave Austin for a while, and had looked at several places, but Fort Collins won in the end.
So Austin was where you got your start with Geeks.
Yep. I was a quizzer for over two years before I took the leap of being a quizmaster. It was actually the first social thing I did in Austin. I moved there for work and didn't know a single soul in Texas. After about four months there, a few coworkers invited me to "quiz night" and the rest was history!
So you've lived in quite a few places. Where are you from originally?
I'm originally from Vernon, Wisconsin. Population, less than my dorm in college.
Hell YEAH! Go Badgers, Packers, Brewers! And, yes, I do love cheese. (It's required.)
Um, we can talk about that. Any particular favorite?
Hey, people love to ask that so I was being proactive! Sharp cheddar is probably my favorite of them all.
Same. A block of Trader Joe's Unexpected Cheddar won't last longer than three days in my house!
Nice! We just got a Trader Joe's here - I need to get over there.
What's your favorite thing about Fort Collins so far?
Probably my number one thing is the outdoor opportunities here. It's incredibly bike-friendly and there are a ton of hiking trails to take my dog on. Plus it doesn't hurt the mountains are the backdrop for everything here. It is so beautiful.
Definitely. Texas hill country has its own beauty, but it's nothing compared to actual mountains.
Agreed! And Texas was rough because half the year it was too hot for my dog to join me outside. That wasn't fun at all. I really missed the four seasons, too. Never thought I would miss snow! But a little bit is nice.
Definitely. So let's talk about your dog a little bit. How long have you had him/her?
Monty! I adopted him over eight years ago when he was about six months old. I very intelligently adopted him right before I started grad school and was the poorest I've ever been. Totally worth it.
Yeah, you can't put a price tag on your pets, really. Do you have other pets?
I do! I have a cat, Calliope, who I adopted last fall. She is very "special" and has FeLV, but I love her craziness.
So you are big into pet adoption, or so it would seem. (Or at least smart enough to know that breeders suck.)
YES! I used to work for several animal shelters and volunteer with one here in Fort Collins. Fur Babies are the best, and people should always opt to adopt.
Does Monty ever get to go with you to the shelter? Or maybe your venue?
Not to the shelter, I volunteer at the cat rescue and I don't think the cats would appreciate a giant direwolf-looking dog in their space.
You're probably right!
But Monty did used to help me scorekeep in Austin when I was the scorekeeper at Moontower. He became quite famous there and quizzers would be upset on weeks I didn't bring him. And he has joined me on many a quiz nights when I play as well.
Yeah, I figured it would be difficult to watch a dog while you host, but my venue would probably let Cricket walk around for a couple hours without a problem.
You should do it! They become your mascot.
I'll wait till my wife plays quiz next time. Tiebreaker - two teams call Cricket and whoever she goes to wins!
NICE! That's perfect! Monty would just go to whichever team had the most meat.
So what venue are you at now in FoCo?
I'm at CosmoNoms! It's an awesome venue in Southwest Fort Collins. They have the BEST beers on tap at all times.
What's your favorite? At least at the moment...
Hands down, it's La Folie from New Belgium. Sour beers are my weakness. And my venue is so amazing - I walk in each week and there is a La Folie already waiting for me at my set up area.
Now THAT is a good venue. La Folie is such a good choice. I smuggled some down from QMCON, and then a few months later they actually had it stocked at the big box beer store, so now I have a way to get more.
Sweet! Yeah, it's a good beer. The staff at CosmoNoms will also bake me jalapeno poppers since I can't eat them fried, which is beyond sweet of them.
Definitely. So, I should have asked earlier - your current job is not with an animal shelter, correct?
Correct. I have worked at shelters and probably will again in the future, but right now I'm with the Boys & Girls Clubs doing their fund raising and marketing.
Very nice. Are they based out of Fort Collins?
They are all independent of each other, so I am with the Larimer County organization.
Do you have any involvement with the Boys and Girls Club outside of your job?
Nope! I wasn't a Club kid (town too small for that growing up). But I was in 4-H and Girl Scouts so my parents did pretty well keeping me out of their hair.
So let's say I'm in town and decide to drop in on your quiz. What will I find at a Jenna quiz that makes it unique?
The venue is pretty amazing, with gorgeous murals of space scenes on the walls - my music is awesome (classic rock and random 90s pop hits) - and I'm usually being pretty goofy with the quizzers. It's like a family feel (if you like hanging out with your family) and I love getting to know everyone. I'm known for some ridiculous jokes/random stories about life, too. If you walk in, and you haven't played before - I will walk over to your table and chat you up. Suck you into the greatness that is quiz, and hopefully make a regular out of you!
I have a lot of respect for the vague description of your playlist - it's probably a lot like mine. What song should I definitely, absolutely, need to have in there??
Oh, wow. There are two that are mandatory at ever quiz I host. 1. Space Jam and 2. I'll Make a Man Out of You from Mulan.
I do not have either of these, but I will play them tomorrow and see how they go over.
Do you get an opportunity to play quiz in Fort Collins? I know there were endless opportunities to do so in Austin, but Fort Collins still has plenty of nights covered all the same.
I do! I just played Saturday night with QMs Mallory, Adam, and Justin at Krazy Karls. We probably play there at least once or twice a month.
I'm a little jealous - I don't have a regular team nor do we have a Saturday night option close by. So when you play, what does your team count on you to answer?
Geography and history. Hands down, that's my forte. And anything musicals/classic music, too, thanks to singing for forever.
I was playing with a team of randos not too long ago and someone tried telling me Cosette wasn't the name of the girl is Les Mis. I got a little too testy.
We had a similar situation in choir a few weeks ago, I thought a brawl would break out when someone mentioned that Vivaldi wasn't original. I mean, I get where they were coming from, but you can't just throw that comment around in a choir practice.
You're in a choir? Tell me more!
I am!! I have been singing since I can remember (maybe 8 or 9?). The choir I'm in here is Larimer Chorale and we do classical pieces. Lots-o-Latin and Italian going on.
How often do you have to practice?
We practice weekly for 2.5-3 hours, and perform four concerts a year.
Very cool. Are you able to balance that with quiz easily?
Pretty easily. My quiz night is Thursdays, and choir night is Tuesdays. Sometimes I have to pass on a cool sub gig, but singing is my therapy, so it's worth it.
Very nice. So I have to ask about your alias on our website. What is the significance of "Weazel"?
Weazel is a nickname I have had since I was 3. My Dad gave it to me because I was notorious for "weaseling" my way out of getting into trouble. He still calls me that to this day... and I think I still am pretty good at weaseling out of things. The "z" got added in sometime during middle school, because obviously it's the cool thing to do when you are a preteen.
Can't ever have too many z's, really.
Let's go back to your quiz if we can. Any weird or fun experiences to share in your tenure as quizmaster?
I think my favorite randomness story is back near the beginning. I had probably been hosting for just a month or two and that night there were a lot of new teams playing.
So I go over the rules really well to make sure everyone understands, then make a joke after the "no cheating" rule that I do, however, accept bribes. Next thing I know, I have origami, money, several shots on my table. And then a quizzer comes up and hands me something. I think it's a tshirts, so I grab it without thinking. It was his underwear. That he just took off in the bathroom. It was still warm.
Yeah, that was an odd night.
My last quiz in Austin was also really memorable. One of the regulars got me a going away gift that included a pipe, CO state flag, a life-sized metal goat, and one condom. The goat was because of their team name, Hobo Goat Family (or variations of).
Quizzer presents are the best! Especially when they can be consumed.
Ooo, yeah! I have yet to get an edible gift (beyond them buying me drinks).
So, pretend you can host any theme of quiz, and the turnout's going to be amazing regardless of what it is. Besides hosting an all-Jenna quiz, what would you like the topic to be?
Honestly, I just hosted my dream quiz!! STAR TREK! It was a dream come true hosting it. Amazing.
Did you dress up?
Yep! Deanna Troi all the way. I'm a huge fan. I've met William Shatner, twice, and the entire cast of next generation. My Dad started taking me to Trekkie Conventions when I was in grade school and I still seek them out. I was raised on the stuff, and William T. Riker was my first crush. While all my friends were freaking out over New Kids on the Block, I was losing it over the bearded number one who sits in chairs the awesome way.
Riker is cool, this is fact. I haven't seen all the movies but I'm trying to fill gaps since they're on Netflix.
The movies are awesome. II, IV, and Generations are my top three. I have the laser disc of Generations framed in my living room... couldn't let Dad throw it away.
That's a collector's item!
I know, right!?! The best part is the top left corner is a little chewed up by my Dad's dog back in the day. Adds character to the cover with BOTH CAPTAINS!
So, aside from hosting to the cast of Star Trek: TNG, what would you say your dream private event would be? Doesn't have to be celebrity-related.
Dream private event? Would probably be someone's wedding, like bestie Ron Freshour. That or at a nonprofit's gala/main fund raiser. Would be so cool to host for a cause even bigger than QFAC.
A wedding would be a great private event. You hearin' this, Ron?
Yeah!! Got on that, Ron!! QMOTY! He's so awesome - was my first quizmaster and got me into this whole mess. So if anyone has any problems with me, it's his fault!
He was the first non-Dallas QM I ever met. I was in Austin for work and played at North by Northwest and introduced myself. Nice guy, can't say enough good things.
We're hitting the home stretch here. Any advice to new players or hosts?
Sure! Everyone knows the whole "Don't Frak It Up" thing, but I always stress to make it your own. To have a good time! Don't copy anyone and don't feel you need to be someone you are not. The beauty of Geeks Who Drink is it embraces individuals, in all our nerdy, geeky, alcoholic glory. So take advantage of that!
Anything we missed? Didn't discuss, but should have?
Haha, not sure!
Late night TV. Who you got? Fallon, Kimmel, Conan, Letterman, Daily Show?
Most likely Daily Show if I'm into actually paying attention, or Fallon if I'm wanting something for background noise while working.
Noted. Any shout-outs you'd like to make?
Sure - shout out to my parents! There aren't many parents who would be down with their kid going into non-profit work, and encouraging me to be me even if it means helping me move to another state to chase my dreams. They raised me on Star Trek and Star Wars and never questioned their little girl pretending to be Captain Kirk or Han Solo growing up. Or Indiana Jones! I wore my dad's Indy hat all the time. Teachers for parents are awesome.
And now you are a teacher in your own way, teaching quizzers the difference between Voyager and TNG.
Ha, yep. I hope no one is making that mistake... I need to make sure that isn't happening somewhere!
I'll give you the final word and then we'll close it out.
Drum up some mischief the next time you're in the Fort Collins area and check out Jenna at CosmoNoms, Thursday nights at 8 PM.
30-something software developer by day, professional drinker by night. Dallasite by birth and by choice.
I have a dog named Sprocket and I still have nightmares about the episode of The Muppet Babies where Nanny took Fozzie to the dentist because WHO WAS WATCHING ALL OF THE OTHER MUPPET BABIES?!?
If you want to reach out to me feel free! But I can only respond to your messages if it's a Free Communication Weekend.