Meet Your Quizmaster
Every first and third Friday of the month. Interviews by "Quizmaster of the Year," Michelle Miller!
Take a peek behind the host with our in depth interview series with the men and women who help run Geeks Who Drink each and every week! Click Here to see a list of who we've already interviewed!
Welcome back to "Meet Your Quizmaster," the blog that puts a spotlight on the quizmasters that control the quizanity at your local pub quiz. For this entry, I'm interviewing one of Seattle's finest, Jon Pio. By day, he works for an evil, souless company that is hell-bent on monopolizing their industry and crushing the hopes and dreams of any lesser companies that stand in their way. At night, well, he pretty much does the same thing, but with a bar tab!
Let's get on with the interview.
QM Boba Fatt: So, let's just get this out of the way: your blogger name is President of the "I Hate Jon Pio" Club. Walk me through your thought process (and disappointing childhood).
QM Jon Pio: My entire daily thought process is probably too abstract for text or human minds (I would liken it to the videos that show behind Trent Reznor during the Hurt video perhaps?) I think I'll just go with the naming thing ... It all comes down to some sort of cosmic balance and narcissism. At my gig, I really have no qualms about slicing people's egos up with my acerbic wordplay, but I feel that I should get it back as well ... of course, none of these people can insult me as well as I can so I just take the reins and lead the assault against me myself. Also I was beat up a lot as a kid for being smart and/or not black.
A sort of self-flagellation for sins against quizzers then? You sound like you grew up next to me in Charleston, South Carolina but it's hard for you to hide that New Jersey accent.
I think it is also some sort of offensive defense like when Eminem "dissed" himself at the end of 8 Mile ... or something, I don't really understand ethnic movies. My accent has gotten worse (better, in my opinion) since moving to Seattle though.
Call me crazy, but I don't think 8 Mile counts as an ethic film. Tell me more about growing up in New Jersey, then the move to Seattle.
Well, it seems like the standard by which you normally measure a Jersey origination story is how similar was it to the Jersey Shore. To answer it on those lines, go fuck yourself. But, yeah, it's a little like it I guess. I grew up more in the central area of the state, which most people don't care about because it does not fit into a humorous stereotype, nor has been made into a number of enjoyable/popular movies or television shows about the Mafia (which doesn't exist, by the way). However, I am full-blooded Italian so I was exposed to that kind of thing in some small way. I guess the farther away from NY you get, the more the Italians are not interested in crime ... just eating and growing things and being really loud. But I was surrounded by family often ... lots of hairspray, Roman Catholicism, and food.
School was pretty standard although my high school was not in a very good area, so the curriculum was poor and there was lots of racial tension. Blah blah blah college blah blah got a job offer from Microsoft so I moved to Seattle. Most of that inner time was spent playing video games alone, not getting laid, and thinking of witty things to say but not saying them.
What did you study to get a job offer from Microsoft? What do you do for them?
I studied Computer Science at Rutgers University. I got a job offer straight out of college to work for a search engine that was quasi-developed at Rutgers called Ask Jeeves. Later, it was just called Ask because corporate assholes do not respect P.G. Wodehouse I guess. After things went shitty at Ask (the new CEO decided we would be search focused for housewives and such, mainly in the South) I started interviewing again and got an offer from Microsoft to work for their search engine which is now called Bing. Specifically, I work for the Local Search people ... so when you look for stripclubs in Salt Lake City Utah, THAT'S ME BABY. It's hard working for Microsoft though, the culture itself is very competitive and difficult and politics between groups. I actually mean because there are so many people out there that just HATE my company. Most people do their job and no one else cares about it but it's weird working for a company that a bunch of people have no qualms saying how much it sucks or how X is better or how they are evil. "Well, Mr. Outspokenbarista, your coffee shop is too slow! The hours are bad, the coffee at Whateverthefuck is tastier. I'm just here because I have a coupon."
Trust me when I say, there is NO REASON to search "strip clubs in SLC" on the internet. Your dollars are better spent at the Wendy's value menu. Well, let's move on to the other job people hate you at, Geeks Who Drink. How did you get started with us?
An old friend of mine from the East Coast moved to Seattle after me. His girlfriend was really into bar trivia so they went to one of the GWD venues, The Ballard Loft. They invited me and my girlfriend at the time, so we went. I decided to get on the mailing list because, hey, I like email. Unread emails make me feel like a real live boy.
So eventually I realized that said girlfriend was a sociopathic monster and I ejected her from my life in a great and endless trial of torment and suffering during which an email came reminding me to come to the pub quiz again at the Ballard Loft. Additionally, they said they were hiring in Seattle. Part of me was like, you are single now and still do not have many friends in this new place you find yourself, you could try being a host to feel better about yourself, meet people, and find confused young lady things to disappoint.
Another part of me was also like, the monster stoles lots of money from you, getting more money is good and finally another part of me was like DESTROY ALL HUMANS. So I got involved, scoring at the venue I was introduced to GWD at, The Ballard Loft, eventually got my own gig that was a disaster through no fault of my own (at least so I am told by everyone) but eventually I took over The Ballard Loft as the host. The friend that originally brought me there became my scorer and the sociopathic monster girl was kidnapped in the Forbidden Forest and raped by a gang of wild centaurs.
Oh wait, that was Dolores Umbridge in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
Well, seeing as you just invented some sort of erotic fan fiction that, sadly, probably already exists, it's probably stupid to ask for you to tell us if you're more geek or drink...
I've become more drink since joining Geeks. I actually didn't start drinking till I was 25 years old through some phobia about vomiting but I randomly decided to become a whiskey snob and my bar tab at the Ballard loft certainly helped with that. In a very methodical and obsessive compulsive manner I decided to drink all of the whiskey there starting from the right and proceeding to the left which I have accomplished by the way, drinking every type including the scotch. Next I might try the tequilas but I do love the whiskey ... my "problem" as I might have told you at Geek Bowl is that it is very, very hard for me to get drunk or feel the effects of alcohol. Some say it is my chops and resemblance to Wolverine, who as you know has an amazing ability to regenerate and process such things. Those people are obviously liars and jealous of my ability to drink lots and still be in as much pain as before. However it sucks when you are, say, being put under for a medical procedure and you wake up a few times but definitely I'm more Geek .
Wait one minute, what operation did you wake up in? What was your favorite whiskey from your bar challenge?
The military was grafting adamantium to my skeleton when I woke up and ...no, I used to have chronic stomach aches. It's possible I still do but just live with them, I don't really know but my doctor wanted to do an endoscopy which is when they shove a fiber optic cable down your throat and into your stomach to look at things. Normally they knock you out and you do not remember anything. I however have memories of the procedure, the feeling in addition to the memory of me waking up and kinda freaking out as a gang of adults was trying to shove cable down my throat. I bit the doctor and he was fucking mad at me afterwards like it was my fault. He had his thumbs wrapped up Looney Tunes style with bandages like big turkey drumsticks. That was when I realized I had a taste for human flesh.
Did you in fact, think you were in The Matrix?
The Matrix wasn't out yet I think nor had Hentai become popular in the states; either works. In fact if the Wachowski Bros. or any of the producers of La Blue Girl were in the operating room I might be due some royalties.
I'm due some mind bleach now.
Going back, my favorite whiskey was actually Jameson but not that white label FILTH you proles might drink...Jameson 18 year. It is really quite delicious however, I prefer the scotch whiskey Laphroaig which they do have but this was already my favorite so much so I bought a bottle of it to destroy my fellow quizmasters at Geek Bowl with, and it worked. As you might recall during our conversations late on that Saturday, I expressed surprise that everyone else had passed out (see earlier descriptions of alcohol immunity).
I made one of the Philly team members vomit from absinthe, I was happy with myself.
Well, their presence made most people purge, I expect. I'm basically from Philadelphia though, it was probably the city I hung out the most in growing up but as a thick skinned East Coaster, I have no problems with you saying Fuck Philadelphia, or saying it myself.
My favorite whiskey is Nikka Taketsuru Fortune 80 even though I'm not a Japanophile by any means. What else besides whiskey do you geek out for?
Hmm..I actually haven't had any Asian whiskey, I should try to get in on that Don't see it around that often if I recall, the type you had isn't something one can even acquire in America. I do all kinds of other geeky stuff. Work does take up a lot of my time, both the Microsoft thing as well as writing rounds for Geeks. I have a dog named Quark which I like to do things with: walks, bite-the-thing-I-threw and hunting hobos for sport. I do lots of gaming, predictably although some my say I have lost geek cred for having never played Dungeons and Dragons OR World of Warcraft. I do tabletop wargamming and have a very shamefully large collection of painted miniatures. I have a collection of rulebooks for games I have never and will probably never play. I like reading rulebooks. To try and give some semblance of being a "real man," I do enjoy doing work on my house; painting and building things and cutting wood
I was just reminded of that Old Spice commercial, baking a girl a cake in a kitchen you built.
Old Spice wasn't interested in my "whipping a girl in my over head suspension framework I just built" commercial idea. Puritans.
Well, now that we are privy to your love of miniature war-gaming, whiskey and BDSM...what would be your fantasy private event for Geeks Who Drink? Who would you love to do a private event for or about?
Well there are 2: the revenge event and the Willy Wonka event. The revenge event being me hosting a quiz for all the people that mocked and persecuted me as a child, for being smart and for being geeky. They'll all do very poorly because they are fucking stupid and I mock their performance the entire night. At the end, where no team can be declared the winner, I strap on my Microsoft issued jetpack and get the hell out of there.
The Willy Wonka event is basically the entering a world of imagination one like during Gene Wilder's first song. Dont' ask me for the Johnny Depp parallel, I don't fucking know. I'd love to do a private event quiz for say Shibari-Con one year, the rope bondage convention, that seems like it would be pretty stellar or I might go more mainstream and choose PAX. Would a better person have said some sort of charity thing?
That would be Andrea "AK-47" King.
Well she's better than me but I predict she'd go down really early in a zombie apocalypse scenario.
Actually, she was the president of a zombie extermination club at her college to prepare for the zombie apocalypse. What has been your favorite round in recent memory? What is your favorite kind of round?
Anything I wrote, because I'm awesome. I like 50-50 rounds because one of my regulars hates them and I like announcing that, "And now a round which Brendan will hate ... " Also because I can use that moment to whore out the Suggest a Round. "If you, like Brendan, think you can do better than us on rounds like this ... 8 rounds ... every day of the week ... every week of the year ... " Specifically, I like geeky rounds because, contrary to what you might think, I do want my people to do well. If they get blown out of the water because they haven't studied their famous renaissance dentists they get sad and less likely to do dirty things in the alley with me. I do usually like "is it a real <something> or did we make it up?" Also, Lifetime movies or Meredith Baxter Birney movies.
I think I have 2 (dubious) honors with rounds at Geeks Who Drink, one of which is I proposed marriage for some dude during a round and the other was making a girl cry because of the question contents and her mental instability I predict.
Early on a Tuesday our Operations Pooh-Bah Matt Angell sent me an email basically saying "talk to this guy." The guy wanted to propose marriage to his girlfriend at the quiz because their first date was at the quiz. I call the guy and he wants me to make one of the questions just like "Ingrid will you marry...” Fuck what was his name...Karl. So I was OK with doing this, but I told him I could probably make it more suave not just some barbarian proposal that doesn't even fit in with the quiz so I looked at the rounds that night and there was one of the rounds that I like, "Real Lifetime movie or something we made up," so I change one of the "movies" to read their little story. The movie title was "A Lofty Proposal: Two star-crossed lovers meet at a sleazy pub quiz night and now only one question stands between them and true happiness: Ingrid, will you marry Karl?" and when I did that, he dropped down on his knee. At the same time the girl wasn't watching and she was like "OH that's a bullshit movie" but then noticed the guy doing it and then happiness ensued. I assume she said yes. Later on people were kinda annoyed that they didn't give me a tip or anything. I mean, I did do all the hardwork for this schmuck, all he had to do was buy some jewel and hand it to the wench. Oh well!
As far as the crying girl, it was YOUR fault. The round in question was Au, Swish, and Auschwitz (Note: I wrote this round). It got a collective groan, but nothing besides that at first. They were non-offensive questions that had something to do with Auschwitz among questions about Au and Swish, of course. After about question three this young thing comes up to me and asks, "Is this really happening?" and I ask her what she is currently seeing so I can confirm one way or another. She must not have heard me correctly because she reiterates "Is this round about Auschwitz really happening?" and I say ,"Yes we have a few questions on Auschwitz." and my scorer, with his deep booming voice adds "It was a sad time in history." which I thought was funny because normally he doesn't interact. The young thing goes to the bathroom maybe to call the ACLU or something. The round finishes with no problem but then I go around to take pictures and I find the table with the young thing and she is mad. I ask her why she didn't like that round and she goes on a long babbling nonsensical description of why it was the most horrible thing to do ever and tears start coming while I'm just smiling and laughing mainly because it is absurd also thinking what YOU, Jesse Brake would have done. She tries to explain that questions on the Holocaust would have been OK but Auschwitz is over the line, that people died there. She asked if I would do a "Trails, Tears, and Trail of Tears" round (YES OF COURSE) and that she goes to trivia all over the place and never heard anything like this before and will probably never come again. I hope she meant orgasm. She also asked me if I had any Jewish friends. She said she wasn't mad at me, because I just read the questions but the whole thing was fucked up. Of course, despite saying that, later that team very passsively aggressive (it's the Seattle way!) wrote "the quizmaster sucks dick and is an anti-semite" on a later round answer sheet.
Well, you'll be happy to know that Trevor Doner and I both wrote a "Trails, Tears and The Trail of Tears" round just for her. And if you can read this Ms. Seattle Girl, I'm Native American and had ancestors die on the Trail after Georgia evicted them from their lands. So, blow.
And dont' forget your uncle at Auschwitz
Yes, he fell off a guard tower. How has being a quizmaster changed your life?
Besides the incurable STDs? I really look forward to it every week. Maybe it's sad, but I don't look forward to much. I feel excitement for some coming events but my gig with GWD really makes me feel like that it has made me sharper, wittier and faster, which in turn makes me feel even more superior to the common man. People seem to really enjoy what I do and it makes me feel good. It has also introduced me to a bunch of other people and quizmasters that I have these strange bonds of kinship with. Seattle can be a really lonely place and meeting different, but still very similar and compatible people was very comforting and nice. Geek Bowl was an amazing time for me and I have a bunch of new friends as a result. It also inspired me to organize the Seattle Quizmasters more into what I have called "The Washington State Justice League" because I'm a geek and into supporting each other's quizzes. We might do a drinking / writing quiz rounds party if us solitary and passive aggressive bastards can get off our asses to actually meet up.
Tell me about the music in your quiz, especially intro, round 8, and winning team themes...oh wait...YOU CAN'T PLAY YOUR OWN MUSIC AT THE QUIZ BECAUSE OF THE SOUND SYSTEM! Hahahahahahaha
... I know your address, Brake. I can use that knowledge for good, or evil.
So last question: How about some advice for your quizzers and quizmasters that are reading this?
Is someone really reading this? Wow, huh. I give this advice to anyone I train: Avoid the N-word. Hit them. Slice them. Your audience, they want you to be mean. They hope it won't be them specifically but they will laugh at others. Hurt them, they will love you for it. This is one case where the Dark Side is both quicker, easier, and more powerful.
Jon Pio is currently hosting at The Ballard Loft in Seattle every Tuesday at 8pm. Be sure to ask him what a 5000 point army is and see his reaction. Also, find him a DM or a girl with low self-esteem and maybe, just maybe he'll have another outlet for his rage other than you.
Till then quizzers- Boba Fatt