COVID-19. Social-distancing. Self-isolating.
On the bright side, all three additions to the vernacular sparked the hugely-popular – online – trivia sessions currently hosted by Lafayette Hill’s McMenamin family two or three times a week.
The McMenamins’ spirited quarantine quizzes play out on Facebook, live from their living room. They last about an hour, consist of 50 questions and at last count were attracting hundreds of players from as far away as Japan – all vying for bragging rights in categories that range from general who-where-what-when to movies and hit TV shows like “The Office” and “Friends.” Recent Disney-centric Q and A’s were real crowd-pleasers.
As are patriarch Bill McMenamin’s “doo-dah on the ten” questions.
“People go crazy for the doo-dahs,” he says.
“You can’t play unlicensed music on Facebook, so one of my daughters came up with the idea of just sort of humming a bit of a song … that people have to identify. We do a doo-dah at the end of each round of 10 questions. It helps keep things fresh. We want people to be challenged but still have fun.
“It’s been amazing, the response we’ve gotten from people,” says Bill, whose production crew includes wife Jennifer and daughters Erin and Sara. “We’ve gotten a ton of notes from people who tell us it’s the highlight of their week … from Japan, California, all over.”
Ironically, the modest social juggernaut is rooted in a particularly dreary breakfast when … well, as Bill tells it:
“We were just sitting around the table this one day, and I said ‘I’m really going through withdrawal with all of this.’ My one daughter looked at me and said, ‘Why not do something with Trivia online?’”
The suggestion wasn’t exactly out of the blue. Bill is a human resources executive with a local tech firm, and Jennifer is a principal with Sague Bus Service, her family’s longtime Whitemarsh business. But the two have also organized fundraising trivia events and social gatherings for non-profits, schools and churches via McM Entertainment for the past 10 years or so. Given that experience and ready access to a 25,000-question data base, their main issue was logistics. According to Bill, the family considered other social media platforms but, in the end, figured Facebook would work best. Watching McM Entertainment’s followers jump from 1,600 to 10,000 reinforced their decision.
“To my amazement, we got a couple of hundred people the first night, and it shot up from there,” he says. “I mean, 200 people became 400 became 600 … all dialed in at the same time. The other night, we had 950 people logged in online. But you figure people have families, and some people play as teams, so it’s really way more than that, which is pretty amazing. And heart-warming, the idea that people are willing to sit down with us and do this. Mind-boggling, really.
“It’s a lot of fun, too. Yeah, it’s a little rough around the edges because we’re kind of making it up as we go, but people like that. They tell me, we feel like we’re right there with you. We do what we can. I mean, the technology is part of the whole issue. I can’t exactly run to the store because I need a certain cord if I need it. So, nobody’s complaining. People are very competitive, but they’re policing themselves. The whole thing is basically on the honor system. When we’re finished, they enter their scores on a Google form and email them to me. We have prizes, but they’re very simple, too -- McM Entertainment t-shirts or pens or bonus points for use at a future live event.”
Along the way, some participants offered to “tip” the family for their time. As an alternative, the McMenamins created a GoFundMe site for Colonial Neighborhood Council and raised some $4,000 for the Conshohocken food bank that serves residents of Conshohocken, Plymouth and Whitemarsh. A new GoFundMe campaign will benefit the American Diabetes Association, “a group that’s near and dear to our hearts because one of our daughters has type 1 diabetes and that’s one of the groups that’s particularly susceptible to coronavirus.”
“We figure if we can do some good for someone with this, why not,” McMenamin continues. “We’re all in this together.”
Additional information, including the McMenamins’ trivia schedule, is posted on their McM Entertainment Facebook page or at www.mcment.net.