It's not youse, it's me
It’s not everyday your nerd world gets rocked. But that’s exactly what happened December 18 at Drinker’s West in University City. Let’s just say a little thing called Simpsons Quizzo happened (let’s say that because that is what happened). Even as a lifelong fan, quoter and admirer of the show, I was still surprised by how exciting it was to walk into a room packed with Simpsons fans, grab a remaining space at the bar, and try to politely ignore those around me while I attentively listened to each question.
I grew up in a household completely enamored with The Simpsons. When the show moved to its 8pm slot on Sunday, where it still airs today, watching became a family staple. Aside from being funny and well-written, the show takes me back to growing up as a kid in the 90s and all the warm fuzzies accompanying it. The Simpsons for me is like the baby blanket my mom didn’t throw out; it represents a safe, comforting time in my life.
Circling back, a friend who works at Drinker’s sent out the official Facebook invite in November for an impending Simpsons Quizzo event. The questions would be from seasons one through 10, and it. was. on.
I arrived with Nick and Kelsey that cold Tuesday night about 10 minutes before questions began. After staking a small space at the corner of the bar, we ordered seasonal beer and Christmas tacos. (The menu is rockin’ and reasonably priced, check it out.) Simpsons Quizzo began and the teams took off, answering everything from the obscure to bonus qs thrown out to the crowd for show merch. Bonding over Simpsons season DVDs before my youngest brother left for boot camp also proved to double as a study session. Aside from the occasional “boo-urns”ing, it was good, free fun to play. I’m also pretty sure this is what heaven will be like for me.
Toward the end of the night, the young, tattooed barback mentioned a group of guys across the bar who had created their own Simpsons-only podcast. In fact, the self-proclaimed “only all-Simpsons podcast on the internet!”
I followed up with the guys online to gain some insight. And now, without further Apu, check out this Q&A with The Jerks From Tower One!
Q: The moderator at Drinker’s began with “Question 1: Only who can prevent forest fires?” before announcing it wasn’t really the first question. Was I the only one, pen gripped tightly in hand, prepared to write out that scene from the episode?
A: I sure hope you weren’t. Anytime us Jerks go to a Simpsons Quizzo event every question turns into as much of a quote-fest as we can muster without giving away an answer. Part of the reason we love these quizzo events so much is that we get to relive some of our favorite moments from the show in a fun atmosphere with other die-hard fans. Mike, Bill, Greg and I [Jesse] have been attending these things for years and have yet to have a bad time. In all but a few occasions we’ve won, which means a free or extremely cheap bar tab, so that’s pretty cool too.
Q: In all seriousness, who are you, and what are you doing here? Can you go into a little bit of your background and the details surrounding the launch of the podcast?
A: The four of us are all late 20/early 30 somethings from Philadelphia and its surrounding areas. Greg and I became friends at Temple University back in 2003 when we both got assigned to the same floor of Johnson Hall, and I met Mike and Bill through mutual friends in Philly’s punk/hardcore community. Hopefully the rapport we all have with one another from a decade of friendship helps make the podcast enjoyable for our listeners.
I think the idea of creating a Simpsons-based site came up one night when Greg and I were hanging out, but naturally it took a year or two for something concrete to actually come from that. Once we came to the conclusion that a podcast would probably be the best format for a Simpsons-related creative outlet it wasn’t difficult to get the other guys on board with the idea of sitting around and talking about the show twice a month, since it is so much a part of our individual personalities and world outlook. As someone who has never done anything like this before the process of buying the domain name and setting up the podcast was surprisingly simple, thankfully.
In terms of goals for the podcast I think the only one we have is to make sure we put out something that we ourselves would want to sit down and listen to. One of the most difficult things is trying to strike a balance between free-flowing off the cuff conversation and talking points that we have established before turning on the microphone. Having only recorded five episodes to this point I feel we have already improved in that area, but I don’t think it’s something any group of podcasters ever truly perfects since some topics require you to lean one way or the other. Also, I don’t think I would call this a goal, but we try to be conscious of creating a conversation that isn’t just us constantly firing off quotes and memorable moments. Obviously that has a place in each episode, but the most fun things to record and hopefully listen to are when we delve into things like how particular moments relate to our own experiences, how the show reflects what we see in society, and how the show has impacted both our lives and society as a whole.
Q: That’s deep! Speaking of, my earliest memories of The Simpsons begin in kindergarten, watching that show and In Living Color on Thursday nights with my parents. What are yours?
A: Speaking just for myself and not the other Jerks my own experience is basically the same. I grew up with three older sisters so they were more into Beverly Hills 90210 which I think was on Thursday nights after The Simpsons, but obviously I immediately latched onto The Simpsons. I find it almost funny when I hear about people who were not allowed to watch the show growing up because, like you, I grew up watching the show with my mom and dad in the room. As has been pointed out countless times, The Simpsons was a much more realistic depiction of the American family at that time so the controversy over it early on always seemed especially dumbfounding to me.
Q: How did you settle on The Jerks From Tower One name? (I spontaneously decided on The Steamed Hams at Simpsons Quizzo.)
A: Mainly we just all love the episode “The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson.” Beyond that we were all kind of bummed when that line got taken out of syndication after the attack on the World Trade Center Towers so this is our way of trying to keep it around. Obviously that day was terrible and unimaginably tragic for lots of people, but I fail to see what that kind of censorship accomplishes.
Q: What has been the reaction from friends/family/significant others to the podcast?
A: I’m almost positive no one in my family has ever heard the word “podcast” before so I just described it as a free internet radio show. That sort of makes sense, right? Anyway, they were just happy that I was doing something with friends that involved The Simpsons since they know more than most how much the show has meant to me throughout the years. Even though most of our friends have already heard us discuss the show countless times they all seem to enjoy the podcast, which we take as a good sign.
In terms of people we don’t know, all the feedback so far has been positive which really does mean a ton to us. I know, at least for me, it’s sometimes easy to be cynical when you hear that type of sentiment from other people, but it actually does.
Thanks again for your interest in the podcast. We hope anybody reading this takes the time to give us a listen and enjoys what they hear. As you’ll hear on the show we love to receive peoples’ thoughts on the episodes, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. Speaking of getting in touch:
Thanks to Jesse at The Jerks from Tower One, and everyone involved with Simpsons Quizzo!
Find me at https://twitter.com/IDHYPhilly