The Real Alligator Lounge From Nathan Fielder’s ‘Rehearsal’

The Alligator Lounge reproduction in The Rehearsal.
Photo: HBO

Brooklyn’s Alligator Lounge isn’t precisely bustling on a Monday night time at 7:45. The sun’s nonetheless out, the warmth has damaged, and it appears as if the denizens of Williamsburg have a whole lot of things they’d quite do than post up in a stalwart neighborhood dive for 4 rounds of bar trivia. I’m there a couple of days earlier than The Rehearsal premieres on HBO, and like that first episode’s protagonist, Kor, I’ve proven up with an ulterior motive. In the episode, Nathan Fielder coaches Kor by way of dozens of potential eventualities in a to-scale reproduction of the bar earlier than he attends an upcoming trivia night time at the true place to make a troublesome confession to his teammate Tricia. Fielder’s pissed off as a result of he spent all of HBO’s leftover Westeros money to build a purposeful reproduction of Alligator Lounge and stock it with actors to rehearse the confession, however Kor is simply as anxious about successful trivia as he’s about coming clear to Tricia; as Kor tells Fielder, “One night of bar trivia is sacrosanct to us.” Clearly, this can be a very particular place with a really particular bar-trivia night time. But would that specialness nonetheless be intact as soon as Alligator Lounge turned HBO’s hottest new star? I made a decision to search out out myself.

But first I needed to rehearse some potential outcomes. So I dragged Vulture’s resident trivia mage, Nate Jones, to Alligator Lounge the week earlier than it was positive to change into inundated with fangirls, fanboys, and fanfolks thirsty for Fielder and low-cost beer. When we bought there, just one desk was occupied, and it was the desk, however the crooked framed image of a gator was a brand new one — panorama as a substitute of portrait. I remembered Kor’s resolution tree however couldn’t convey myself to lie a few relative’s most cancers; it’s not value summoning the evil eye over content material creation. Luckily, the group left earlier than trivia began, so we have been in a position to snag the Kor-Tricia confession desk earlier than the sport started.

Eventually, the bar crammed with about 20 gamers, together with my friend Danny, an Alligator Lounge common who joined our staff. The place smelled like pizza, the spice rack had all the identical spices, and the trivia was straightforward. There have been things Fielder’s numerous take a look at runs couldn’t have ready us for: A man behind us saved dancing to the music throughout the breaks and hitting Nate along with his tush. There have been 4 “shot rounds” through which we received much more booze than we would have liked. I may see why Cheap Chick within the City would love this place: a free made-to-order pizza with each drink order is an effective way to get pleasure from dinner and a High Life for $6 ($4 earlier than ideas), and the first-place prize of $40 off your tab is surprisingly attainable. Like Kor and Tricia, we cheered at each right answer. Our staff, Lea Michele’s Vision Board, nabbed first place within the first spherical and saved it that method. We have been on such a roll I bought suspicious: Had people round me been planting solutions? Had I walked by a cop who instructed me, “It’s days like these I curse Michael Bay for directing a ‘Got Milk’ ad”? My teammates have been good … however have been they crops too? [Editor’s note: Nate Jones is not, to our knowledge, a plant.]

  1. Teammate Danny at the desk.

  2. Remember how Fielder was so pleased with all of the spices within the spice rack being precisely the identical …

  3. Monday night time, round quarter-hour earlier than trivia began, pre-Rehearsal premiere.

After our victory, the host, Sha, got here as much as congratulate us and get an image. In that second, I felt I needed to confess that I used to be there with an ulterior motive: to write down an article a few TV present. Sha wasn’t the host featured within the The Rehearsal, and like Kor, he hadn’t heard of Nathan for You. I instructed him I’d be back subsequent week to see if The Rehearsal began a motion. He was a really enjoyable and “boisterous” (Nate’s phrase) host who took a break in the course of the sport to serenade the bar with a rendition of “Careless Whisper,” however he couldn’t have been much less within the present or Fielder.

Just a few days later, I felt dumb that I had instructed Sha about the entire TV present factor. What if I made it appear to be a much bigger deal than it was? What if nobody confirmed up the next week? But then The Rehearsal dropped, and Fielder was in my Twitter “Trending” bar all weekend. The Monday after the premiere, I arrived at Alligator Lounge a full half-hour sooner than the earlier time, and the group had already doubled. Nate, my friend Nico, and I snagged the final remaining desk, and shortly there weren’t sufficient free stools in the entire place for the entire gamers to take a seat (sadly, the fucked-up chairs close to the loos, as seen on TV, have since been eliminated). The energy within the room was palpable, and the group — cliques of gangly boys of their mid-20s, women with glasses — match the Fielder-fan profile. I noticed the lone wolves from the week earlier than, nonetheless on their identical barstools, now amongst masses extra people jostling for the bartenders’ consideration.

Sha walked in and was wowed by the group. He guessed it was the attract of the bar’s TV cameo, which Sha hadn’t watched. “One day I’ll be on TV,” he instructed me. “For juggling, maybe.”

“Oh, are you good at juggling?” I requested.

“No, but I can be.”

Before the sport began, I requested Sha to take a survey of the room for me. He bought on mic and requested, “Who’s here because of the HBO show The Review?” Around half of the group cheered. I’m guessing there have been much more, however they didn’t cheer as a result of they weren’t there for The Review. In line for a trivia sheet, I heard a bearded man with a messenger bag with the phrase cinema on it say, “These guys are just not gonna know what hit them. They’re not prepared,” which may have been about The Rehearsal turnout or may have simply been about his personal trivia mastery. I circled and noticed a pair take a selfie exterior the bar earlier than strolling in.

I returned to our desk, and Nico overheard a man behind him — at the desk — name this “the Dumb Starbucks of trivia nights.” Someone was filming on his telephone. My friend Danny confirmed up, and I requested him what he considered the episode. He stated that within the first scene at the true Alligator Lounge, when it appears as if there are hidden cameras scoping it out, he acknowledged regulars within the crowd, together with certainly one of his pals. And right here’s the place the plot thickens: Danny stated that within the climactic scene through which Kor and Tricia truly do bar trivia, he “didn’t recognize anyone. Even the bartender was different.” Danny stated the trivia host within the episode wasn’t the same old man who hosted in 2019, both. To be clear, Danny is a real Alligator Lounge common. He is aware of the space; he is aware of the group. He believed that the confession scene, the one which was purported to be the “real” second after many, many staged ones, was extra staged than the present let on. He additionally directed me to a post on the Instagram account of Trivial Dispute, the group that organizes these bar-trivia nights. Overlaid on a screengrab of the episode have been the phrases “AS (SORT OF) SEEN ON THE REHEARSAL! ACCEPT NO SUBSTITUTIONS!”

I reached out through Instagram to Adam Kesner, the person behind Trivial Dispute, which hosts plenty of trivia nights in bars throughout New York all through the week; the group has run this system at Alligator Lounge since 2007. Kesner often writes the questions each week however confirmed {that a} totally different host and pre-written questions have been offered by The Rehearsal’s manufacturing company for the ultimate trivia night time within the episode. “The only issue I had with the show was the subpar question quality,” stated Kesner, who theorized that the questions have been written to generate these humorous “clue inception” beats quite than a difficult night time of real-life bar trivia.

  1. Sha, Alligator Lounge’s trivia host, on the first trivia night time after the Rehearsal premiere.

  2. The crowd of Fielder followers.

  3. A packed home (lounge?).

The sport started, and the classes included “Hidden-Camera Shows” and “Famous Nathans,” each referencing The Rehearsal. When scores have been referred to as out on the finish of spherical one, staff names included present references such because the Dish (as in Trish the Dish) and Should’ve Brought a Plunger. (We referred to as ourselves Door City Over Here.) The questions have been barely more durable than the earlier week; possibly the trivia author, realizing there could be extra eyes on the sport, stepped things up a bit in response. The bartender instructed me that, in his time working there, he solely ever noticed it that crowded on a Monday “two or three times.” Sha instructed me he was “overwhelmed” by the group. Did The Rehearsal change the make-up of the gamers? He stated the newbies have been “a little annoying at the beginning,” and “the regulars were gentrified out of their seats!” I requested what number of groups there have been in complete, and Sha counted up the scoresheets: 19, “the most teams we’ve had. I guess it’s on TV, and it’s something to Instagram about.” Six groups dropped out over the course of the night time.

Sha was onto one thing. Between the themed questions, selfies, and references to the present, the night time felt like a Sex and the City bus tour for comedy nerds. Compared with the week prior, real-life Alligator Lounge trivia now felt extra like The Rehearsal’s model of Alligator Lounge trivia. My staff couldn’t inform if Monday nights would get progressively busier as people saved getting turned on to the sequence or if this was an early bump and things would quickly settle back to regular. Danny identified that the group made things really feel the way in which they have been earlier than COVID hit, noting that lots of the outdated workers members moved away throughout the pandemic as a result of the hospitality trade had been hit so arduous. It was good to see it thriving. I solely hope the reproduction bar continues to be sitting in a warehouse someplace, pleased for its twin’s success.

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