CHICAGO — Lighting a cigarette outside of McClusky’s Ale Arena, 30-year-old tapas server Donny Barlow mused that he’d probably be killing it way harder at tonight’s trivia night if every single question was about the filmography of Joel and Ethan Coen.
“I’m not a big sports nut, and I never really studied a ton in high school,” said Barlow, unclasping one of the pockets of his denim jacket to light another smoke. “Haven’t read a book in about a decade either, if we’re being honest. But shit, man. If you ask me something about the making of Fargo, we’re cooking with fucking gas. They built that Paul Bunyan statue special for the movie and tore it down right after they stopped filming. And yeah, that is the guy who plays the Zodiac killer as Marge Gunderson’s husband. Basically his first film role, must have felt pretty stoked to get cast by the absolute GOATs of American dark comedies. Shit, I should probably get back inside – halftime is over and you never know when a guy who knows everything about The Hudsucker Proxy might have to do his thang.”
When asked for comment, a member of Barlow’s trivia team admitted that she often feels frustrated with Donny’s presence on the team, particularly his constant insistence that the next round is “definitely” going to be called “O Trivia, Where Art Thou?”
“Look, Donny’s a sweet guy and a great hang,” said Jenna Rogers, Barlow’s longtime teammate. “But every thought in his brain is about a Coen brothers movie. Our buddy Mark is a copywriter, and Donny’s always saying ‘Everybody got the one homie who act like Barton Fink,’ and pointing at him. It’s so obnoxious! I keep telling him that there’s literally no shot in hell that the entire parking lot speech from A Serious Man would ever be a trivia answer, but he doesn’t listen. I’m just glad that he stopped dressing up as Anton Chiguhr every week – that cattle gun he would drag around was fully functional!”
Bar owner and trivia host Martin McClusky stated that while he does accept suggestions for possible trivia subjects every week, Barlow doesn’t seem to understand his relatively niche expertise might not play for the general public.
“I could see a sort of fill-in-the-blank thing with iconic quotes from The Big Lebowski, definitely, “ said McClusky. “But a whole night dedicated to them? Donny’s the only guy who knows the name of Jon Polito’s character from Miller’s Crossing. Your Average Joe has not memorized every session musician who played on ‘Please Mr. Kennedy.’ And seriously, who the hell has ever seen The Man Who Wasn’t There? But it’s all good, he’s a sweet kid. And it’s been a lot easier to talk sensibly to him now that he doesn’t drag that cattle gun around the bar anymore.”
Barlow hasn’t given up hope that his Coen-forward aesthetic won’t one day be accepted by the masses and is currently acquiring an LLC for his Ballad of Buster Scruggs themed mescal bar.