Get lifted at the Elevated Weirdo Game Show
By: Katei Cranford
The Elevated Weirdo Game Show returns with Marco Butcher and Tarnations Friday night at Monstercade in Winston-Salem.
“Get drunk, answer questions and win prizes!” the Facebook event page beckons. It’s fitting for a night of stoner-rock bands with sets in between rounds of a weirdo game show.
“I grew up in the 1980s watching reruns of game shows from the 1970s when everyone was drunk and high,” Elevated host Toby Hilliard noted of the inebriated marketing inspiration. “The Gong Show, The Match Game, and Let’s Make A Deal were my favorites growing up,“ he added.
Hilliard’s game show, now on its third incarnation, started mostly as “drunken hypothetical” suggestions. “I had a conversation once or twice about how trivia nights at bars are cool but are also pretty dull,” he explained. “Hosting a game show was never an official plan, though.”
Growing up in the New Jersey punk scene, Hilliard snowballed a Philly squat experience into a sequence of endeavors, thus far culminating with his own vintage store and hosting duties for a weirdo-game show at a weirdo-bar in Winston-Salem.
“It was out of necessity,” Hilliard said of founding the @elevatedweirdoempire, an online shop he operates largely through Instagram and at www. elevatedweirdo.com. “I was living in Philadelphia and got into it with my boss and landlord. I had two or three months before they could legally evict me, so I squatted there and started selling the books off my shelf and clothes out of my closet. I’d take that money to the thrift store and buy more stuff and sell that. I haven’t stopped since.”
As for the game show, “it became a real thing last spring when my friend’s band from Philly was coming through on tour,” Hilliard explained. “I booked them a show at Monstercade, and all the local-openers fell off at the last minute. Without really thinking about it, I told them I’d just do a game show.”
“Then, of course, I had to actually make up a game show,” he laughed.
“The first game was sort of loosely thrown together with questions and prizes I grabbed from my store,” he said. “Since then, I’ve sort of added some things and taken away others. But basically, it remains a trivia or quiz show with buzzers and bonus rounds.”
“After a couple rounds of trivia, the top players move onto the finals, which has been a weirdo version of Jeopardy,” he said.
“Sometimes I ask people to do celebrity impressions for extra points,” Hilliard added. “At the last show, I made contestants do an impression of Steve Harvey being excited for Christmas presents.”
Rules vary each time. For Hilliard, the overall equation is “usually at least half-chaos.”
“The crowd seems to get more wild with each show,” he added, “during the last game I allowed people to either keep their prize, steal someone else’s prize or choose from the bag of mystery prizes.”
“For this show, we’re going to do our version of The Match Game where people have to match-up fill-in-the-blank questions with other people,” Hilliard said of the surprises that await repeat-players.
An amicable host, Hilliard insists that it takes a handful of weirdos to run the game show.
“I couldn’t handle it without them,” Hilliard said of his co-hosts which include friends Mikey and Lutz operating sound-effects and the scoreboard. His fiancée Maggie helps with the boards and prizes like Winston’s own weirdo Vanna White.
Prizes, according to Hilliard, will “vary from really cool stuff to funny cheap stuff, to total garbage.” He hints that potential winnings also include items from his shop like clothes, records, or trading cards.
“But I’ve also been known to give away things like cigarette butts and pencil shavings,” he smirked. “I like to mix it up and surprise people.”
Early bird attendees will be automatic winners of mystery door prizes, while the champion of the night will take home a one-of-a-kind trophy.
The Elevated Weirdo Game Show is part of a larger rock show with Marco Butcher and Tarnations. “The game will go on before and after the Marco Butcher set, and then Tarnations will wrap-up the night,” Hilliard said.
Hilliard calls Butcher, “a super cool stoner-y blues rock’n’roll one-man band.” Tarnations is a newer Winston super-group outfit. “And they play this super heavy epic stoner rock. But with weirdo-shit thrown in,” Hilliard said.
Katei Cranford is a Triad music nerd who dreams of one day winning both showcases on the Price Is Right. She also hosts the Tuesday Tour Report, a radio show that runs like a mixtape of bands playing NC the following week, 5-7pm on WUAG 103.1fm.