Jan 1, 2016

Coonan’s: Camaraderie and high spirits drive trivia on Monday nights at a Johnson Street social anchor

Trivia night crowd at Coonan's
Doc's report:

Do you know the name of Harry Potter’s owl, or two of the three kids in “The Middle”? Well, it’s Hedwig, and Brick, Sue and Axl. So where were you at Coonan’s last Monday for trivia when I needed you?

Let me say up front that Coonan’s Irish Hub is my favorite bar and grill in Bay City. When people visit from out of town, it’s the first place I take them, and they ask to go back on their return visit. Local friends ask me to meet them at Coonan’s for the loaded chili, olive burger, Guinness stew or Rueben.

It’s Cheers, where everybody knows your name. Kim Coonan and his staff make friendliness part of their job, and county and city movers and shakers anchor the west end of the bar during happy hour. We hold our annual June 16th Bloomsday celebration of Joyce’s “Ulysses” there. Harry and I got drunk there after Baldo died.

But even a place as popular as Coonan’s knows that Monday can be the slowest night of the week. No more. Monday trivia at Coonan’s means no empty seats at the bar, tables and booths.

Bar trivia in Bay City is a genuine craze, like sushi or “House of Cards.”

I’ve played at the Bell Bar on Wednesday, Chet’s on Thursday and at Scotty’s Sand Bar for a Central High School fundraiser on a Saturday. They’re all packed.

Do you know a sauce made from egg yolks, butter, lemon juice and salt and pepper? A cat with a flat face and thick coat? Well, it’s Hollandaise and Persian, and here are 10 reasons why Monday night trivia at Coonan’s is a great time:

10. Fun. We’ve all been in competitive environments where the competition gets out of hand. There’s only one reason to play trivia at Coonan’s: to have fun.

9. Appreciating diversity. My team at trivia has a weakness. We all went to high school together. Vietnam, Kennedy, civil rights -- we’re gold. Harry Potter, hair bands of the '80s, the Kardashians -- we need a young person.

8. Making new friends. One of the best things about trivia night is walking from table to table comparing answers between rounds, getting to know people smarter than you.

7. Technology in context. Obviously, there’s no Googling during the question round. But the moment the answer cards are collected, everyone goes on line.

6. Money. It's a dollar to play, and Coonan’s matches the pot. So 50 players means $100 in the pot. A team of six splits it six ways. Who’s the victim?

5. The MC. Local DJ Randy Howell and his team put on a good show and make it look effortless.

4. Creativity. Aside from the knowledge challenge, the team names alone are great: Five Babes and a Mexican, a Leather Glove, Flight Risk, Coonan’s Clever Kids. The WildCats have T-shirts with their individual names on them.

3. Learning. There is a certain joy in affirming what you know and discovering what you don’t in various categories: food, Sinatra, Michigan sports, the '70’s, quotes from Shakespeare, etc.

2. Showing off. Let’s face it: We all want to be Ken Jennings. At Christmas, the question was: “Which Shakespeare play begins with the line: ‘If music be the food of love, play on’?" If you know the answer (“Twelfth Night”), you get that tingle.

1. Old friends. Let’s face it: Coonan’s needs a reason to invite people in on Monday nights. So do we all.


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