Beaufort Neighbors

Trebek-alike: Chris Damgen enjoys his role as Bricks' Resident trivia-game host

August 4, 2009 

If you're bored it's you, not Beaufort.

"Beaufort is a good place to do things with friends," Billie Andrews, 31, said. "You just can't be a boring person; if you're a boring person, Beaufort is not the place for you."

Andrews keeps busy by playing tennis and golf, pedaling her red beach cruiser downtown, meeting with friends and, on Thursdays, it's trivia night at Bricks on Boundary.

"(Trivia) tests your smarts and your popular culture knowledge," Andrews said while sipping a drink on Bricks' breezy patio. "Plus, the guy that does trivia is such a cool guy; he looks like a young Pat Sajak with the hair."

Question: Who is this young, debonair man with game show-host hair? The answer: Chris Damgen.

Damgen, 26, is a planner with the City of Hardeeville who grew up in New Jersey and moved to Beaufort in 2007 after receiving his master's from Clemson University.

"I used to visit Beaufort and Fripp Island each summer growing up, and I fell in love with the area," Damgen said. "So moving to the Lowcountry was a natural and nostalgic choice."

As a planner, Damgen reviews development plans, issues permits and works on special projects. Frequently speaking at public hearings and community meetings has made Damgen very comfortable as a trivia host. Damgen's colleagues support his moonlighting endeavors and a few participate regularly.

"I enjoy city planning, but if there was such a thing as a full-time trivia host, I might consider a career change," Damgen said.

Watch out, Trebek

Every week, Damgen keeps up with trivia trends as a participant at Locos Grill and Pub in downtown Savannah. He has been playing trivia with friends since high school and college.

"It became a weekly event to go to a local restaurant and hang out for a few hours and have fun," Damgen said. " I don't consider myself too nerdy, though I seem to have had a knack for remembering facts, figures and rather useless stuff."

As a player, Damgen's strengths are geography, history and sports trivia. He is, admittedly, of little help to teammates when it comes to science, television or children's stuff.

All that doesn't matter much anymore, though, because Damgen's hosting status has somewhat clouded his days as a participant.

"I like playing trivia, but I have loved every minute as a trivia host," Damgen said.

Damgen uses a traditional trivia format: Four categories with five questions each and a final question. Most people play in teams of two to five people. It's free to play, and weekly prizes include buckets of beer and $25 gift certificates to Bricks.

The game lasts about an hour from 8 to 9 p.m. Thursday drink specials include $2 vodka cocktails, $8 pitchers, $10 buckets all night and $1 Brick brew until 7 p.m.

Playing to the crowd

Damgen began his trivial pursuit of stumping locals in early May. Since then, the trivia crowd has grown each week. Bricks owner and executive chef Joshua Poticha said he couldn't be happier with Damgen's work.

"He gets the crowd involved and enjoys what he's doing," Poticha said of Damgen. "People dining in the restaurant get a kick out of listening to it, too — it's not offensive."

Offensive? No. But the crowd has been known to get a little carried away with team names. A couple of weeks ago, the roster included 11 teams with names such as Dirty D's, Bacon Grease, Mr. Sweaty, No Liquors, Window Lickers and Sexy Universal Healthcare.

Damgen said questions that go over well with the crowd usually relate to bad behavior or tragic events such as political sex scandals, celebrity divorces and musician deaths.

"Sometimes, I read an article and find an interesting or obscure fact, and that inspires me," Damgen said. "All the answers are researched and verified ahead of time."

After the game, it is not unusual for Damgen to visit with players and find out what type of categories they liked and disliked. He said he tries to find categories that appeal to a cross-section of players.

"The best thing about hosting trivia is meeting people. I've gotten to meet neighbors, visitors and other folks who enjoy going out on Thursdays," Damgen said. "I always enjoy people's responses to categories or questions, especially the verbal outbursts of glee or the collective groans for a missed answer."

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