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Pressing My Luck With Pat Kiernan

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As a writer, creative director and self-proclaimed man of the people, there are only a few things I hold dear. Among them, my pop culture knowledge, the ability to recognize and tell smart, entertaining stories, and the undeniable New York-ness of my existence.

So, when TrivWorks founder, David Jacobson, invited me to attend their "15 Minutes of Fame Pop Culture Trivia Night" celebrating (and gently ridiculing) one hit wonders, television supernovas, media darlings, and other short lived social phenomena at Brooklyn's Bell House, I couldn't say yes quickly enough.

His invitation also included a one-on-one interview with my favorite NYC personality and the event's special host, Mr. In the Papers himself, Pat Kiernan, in advance of the show.

We talked about TrivWorks, pop culture expertise, growing up on game shows, the Live! with Kelly gig, and why everybody loves him. And just for kicks he even indulged my general ridiculousness by answering a few randomly occurring trivia questions.

HJ: Who is your favorite one hit wonder?
PK: David and I had a list of one hit wonders. And for whatever reason Stacey Q kept popping into my head, "Two of Hearts."

I asked him to sing it. He obliged.

HJ: What was the stage name of hip-hop one hit wonder, Marvin Young?
PK: I feel like I should know this. [Pause.] You got me.
HJ: Young MC, Bust a Move.

HJ: Why do you and TrivWorks fit so well together?
PK: It combines my love of New York City and my connection to the audience of New York City with game shows, competition, and pop culture trivia.

HJ: Are trivia shows more about dominating your opponent, or winning prizes?
PK: I don't think the prizes are important at all. On World Series of Pop Culture, our champions said they didn't care about the money, because [winning] was a trivia badge of honor for life... They were more concerned about being the pop culture trivia champions of America.

HJ: Where did your love of pop culture begin?
PK: I grew up in a family of game show lovers. Name That Tune, Wheel of Fortune, Price is Right, Card Sharks, Concentration and one after another.

HJ: Who's on your Mt. Rushmore of game show hosts?
PK: Alex Trebek, Bob Barker, Dick Clark, and Jim Perry.

HJ: Jim Perry?
PK: The reason I remember him and you don't is because he hosted a Canadian game show called Definition. It was on so often, it's stuck in the mind of all Canadians.

Pat proceeded to geek-out, royally. He broke down the entire show, with sample clues and answers. He even mentioned it was Definition's opening instrumental, Soul Bossa Nova, composed by Quincy Jones, that inspired Mike Meyers choice for Austin Powers' theme.

HJ: Is it in syndication on GSN?
PK: [Laughs] I don't know. [Laughs] Canadian game shows were legendary for being low budget. You'd get through to the grand finale and win a typewriter.

HJ: Who is credited with writing the theme song of the Facts of Life and ...
PK: [He stops me.] Alan Thicke and Gloria Loring.

HJ: What was your family's favorite game show?
PK: Wheel of Fortune. My mom and grandfather are amazing at it. So, I always found it frustrating to watch with them.

HJ: Shopping era, or cash prize era?
PK: Shopping era. It was scandalous amongst the Kiernans and D'Amicos when Chuck Woolery and Susan Stafford were ousted in favor of Pat and Vanna.

HJ: If Live! with Kelly isn't next, what's is?
PK: I really like my gig at NY1 ... They're great about letting me do other projects. I'm always dabbling with what's in production and pilots in the game show space.

HJ: So does that mean you have the coolest job in NYC?
PK: It's right up there. It's a combination of personality, editorial judgment, [my] love of New York and an adeptness to tell stories in as few words as feasible. If you were crafting a job for me, this would be right up there.

HJ: Why do you think New York loves Pat Kiernan?
PK: I think there's an honesty to what I do... I feel like the audience, having gotten to know me for 15 years, has a sense that I know what I'm talking about... There's something informed and conversational about it. With me you have a sense that I get it.

HJ: Which Oscar winning actress played Rachel's younger sister, on Friends?
PK: Julia Roberts?
HJ: Reese Witherspoon.
PK: Ah, yes.

HJ: What should audience members slash participants expect at a TrivWorks event?
PK: It's a different, very interactive form of entertainment... We make an announcement in the beginning for individuals or teams of two to join larger teams, to be more competitive and meet new people. You go to the movies, you're sitting in the dark, not talking. You go to a concert, you talk to the people you came with, over the music. [TrivWorks] is very social and interactive.

After Pat and I spent about 90 minutes talking pop culture and trivia, I was primed to attend the live event. When I did, the vibe was unmistakably fun, completely silly, competitive, in a cool way, and enjoyably nerve racking. In short, it was an absolute blast.

I fully intend on purchasing my own tickets to TrivWorks premier Manhattan event, whether or not I get another interview with my new buddy, Pat. So, if anyone needs an expert on pro wrestling, reality television, and top 40, I'm looking to join a team.