Comedy, Tragedy, Trivia, Wormhole

Trivia host wants to know what you don’t know

Ty as a wee lad

The wrong answers interested Ty Connor just as much as the right ones, so one night, he started collecting all the discarded answer sheets from the pub trivia competitions he hosted around Eugene.

His goal was to create a narrative based on wrong answers. He sorted and catalogued it all based on subject matter and team name — because people have very different ideas about who did what, when and where, he says.

“I don’t know if you knew this, but Uncle Tom’s Cabin was written by Rosa Parks,” Connor wryly proffers.

Connor is presenting this surrealistic stream-of-consciousness prose-poem, a word collage of incorrect trivia answers, June 28 at Tsunami Books.

After years of collecting, he needed to do something with all the material. “Because this is some weird shit,” he says. “There’s some dark shit in there, and ridiculously weird ideas. Some of it is so surreal.”

Trivia nights are an increasingly popular way for bars to attract customers. “People don’t go and play pool anymore, they play pub trivia,” Connor says.

Unlike a lot of trivia hosts, who use online services to generate their material, Connor preps for his trivia nights the old-fashioned way – sort of. 

“I’m the stubborn weirdo,” he says. “I do it myself. I use Wikipedia, or I read the paper. I’m the analog guy.”

That’s how Connor stays connected to what he knows. At the vantage point of trivia host, Connor has been offered a peek into what kinds of knowledge people prioritize, and what kinds of knowledge people could care less about.

Most of all, it’s a portrait of what constitutes “common knowledge” in the age of Wikipedia, YouTube and other internet wormholes, and how that’s all become so fragmented.

“Common knowledge” — Connor’s favorite oxymoron.

“There’s this whole universe of who knows what,” he says. Looking at what people don’t know led to questions like, “How are we connected to what we know? Why do we know what we know? Why do we know it this way? Or that way? Who listens to what? Sees what? What do you retain?” 

Even the trivia team names have given Connor material.

“OK, jagged little pilgrims, meow’s the time to go under Sean Connery’s kilt. Call me Ish-maybe, because pirates love booty,” he reads from a section of his presentation, stitched together entirely from team names.

“There’s room on the broom,” Connor continues, “even though Herbert Hoover accosted my grandmother. Disco ate my baby. Jane’s not here. Mary’s late. Mama needs a drink, and there’s some constipated consonants.”

What does Connor call this magnum opus of knowledge gone wrong, of tainted trivia and misplaced know-it-all-ism?

“The tentative title for the thing is ‘Comedy, Tragedy, Trivia, Wormhole,’” he says.

Ty Connor reads three years of incorrect trivia answers 8 pm Friday, June 28, at Tsunami Books; all-ages (adult content), $5 minimum donation.