(For the full story of how Tonga first came to be an important part of Williams Trivia, see the Giant Pygmies of Beckles contest from 12/86.)
Since then, one of the cherished traditions of Williams Trivia is the group anticipation building to the Tonga question: when will it come? When?
But as we'll see, asking Tonga questions wasn't nearly the instant tradition we imagine. The first four post-tiebreaker contests NOT hosted by the Evil Empire did not include a single Tonga question.
Really, we can all thank the Evil Empire for keeping Tongamania alive. (The fact that they won a pile of contests in a short period definitely helped.) After losing by the infamous "one-third of one-fifth of one point," truly a Tonga-sized margin, they won the following semester. Rather than shunning their Tongan terror, they embraced it. They cherished it. They exploited it. And they showed that a team can never slacken, never assume, never take a single misstep, or the Trivia Gods' wrath shall be swift and terrible.
The first intentional Tonga question was in December, 1987. Since 1992, only one contest has omitted the obligatory Tonga reference. Though one of the tiniest nations on Earth, Tonga is bigger than all of us.
Host - The Giant Pygmies of Beckles
The question that started it all......
Tiebreaker Question #2 (of 5):
Question: What are Africa's only three countries ruled by monarchies?
Answer: Morocco, Lesotho, and Swaziland.
(We Begin Bombing in Five Minutes correctly named all 3 nations; All The Sugar, Twice the Caffeine named 2 of 3, incorrectly guessing "Tonga" as the third country. This was the margin of victory in the 12/86 contest.)
Vic Mather's personal account:
I'm pretty sure this year was the first Ultra Bonus. The answer was things Robin says: "Holy ----".
I, personally, figured this out after about 3 hours, scoring 5 points, and no other team got it. This will become important later.
This was the year of the infamous Tonga tie. The whole sordid tale has been documented all too well. What is not generally known is that I am the one who guessed "Tonga," costing our team the title. (Of course, if not for my Ultra Bonus answer we would have lost 5 points. So there.)
(ARCHIVAL NOTE: The broadcast of the Giant Pygmies contest has been unearthed, and its scores analyzed. Mather's "Holy ___, Batman!" answer was actually worth 7 big points to his team.)
Host - We Begin Bombing in Five Minutes
Host - I Don't Have To Answer That Question!
(The team that mistakenly answered "Tonga.")
Question: After fleeing the Phillipines, Ferdinand Marcos was all dressed up with no place to go. In the summer of 1987, his luck seemed to change. A national leader offered him asylum, as well as his help in overthrowing the Aquino government. Marcos, however, declined. Who was this leader, and what country does he head?
Answer: King Topou IV, of Tonga.
Song: "To Sir With Love," by Lulu
Question: From what country does the hit group The Jets hail from?
Song: "Magic," by Pilot
Host - A Judo, A Chop-Chop-Chop
Host - Silly Me, That's Not The Talking End
Host - Leave The Gun, Take The Cannolis
(Again, the "Tonga"-guessing victims.)
Realm: Royal Nuptials
Subrealm: Team History
Question: Who was the only guest at Charles and Diana's wedding who brought his own chair?
Answer: The 350-pound King of Tonga, who was too heavy for the chairs in St. Paul's Cathedral.
Song: "Stranded in the Jungle," by the Cadets
Host - Harry "Snapper" Organs
Host - Son, You've Got a Panty On Your Head
(On top of the trivia world, but still haunted by their "Tonga" answer.)
Subrealm: One Country We'll Never Forget
Question: What country once issued a stamp in the shape of a banana?
Song: "Black Betty," by Ram Jam
Host - Oxygen Is For Losers!
(The first non-Evil Empire team to pick up the gauntlet, they asked the following back-to-back questions.)
Subrealm: Famous Trivia Tiebreakers
Question: What country is also known as The Friendly Islands?
Song: "Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometime," by the Korgis
Subrealm: Great Detectives?
Question: Who was Jonathan Small's sidekick?
Answer: Tonga. (Sherlock Holmes: "The Sign of Four")
Song: "You Better Be Sure," by the Cavaliers
Oddly enough, as Toby Elliott recalls:
Host - Five Is Right Out
Host - Phasers On Stun: The Next Generation
Host - Not Everyone Keeps Their Genitals In The Same Place
(A tricky twist.........)
Realm: Pacific Islands
Subrealm: Think Well Before You Answer
Question: What is the richest island nation in the South Pacific?
(Hang up if they say "Tonga.")
Song: "Say You're Wrong," by Julian Lennon
Subrealm: South Pacific
Question: (3 pt. play) A group of California businessmen claimed ownership of a coral reef in the territorial waters of a small island nation, for the purpose of establishing their very own country. Name their country, and the country from which they took the reef.
Answer: Republic of Minerva; Tonga.
Song: "Steal Away" by Robbie Dupree
Fall 92/January 93
Host - Phasers On Stun: The Next Generation
Realm: Great Island in Trivia History
Subrealm: What Do You Think?
Question: Although the mighty island of Tonga will never die, trivia-wise, we cannot say the same for its residents. What unique item is traditionally used to decorate Tongan graves?
Answer: Beer bottles.
Song: "Shame," by Evelyn "Champagne" King
(NOTE: Phasers psyched out some teams earlier in the night by including a question about the Republic of Maldives, one of the very few nations on Earth even SMALLER than Tonga. Many automatic "Tonga!" guesses were had by all. They also did...)
Realm: So Close to Tonga, You Could Hit It With a Flat Rock
Subrealm: Yet Another Question About Aborigine Leaders
Question: Assuming you are not one yourself, what then is the greatest significance of "CAZIQUES"-- that is, "native chiefs of West Indian aborigines"?
Answer: It provided the highest single turn score (392) in competition Scrabble.
Song: "Pop Muzik," by M
Phasers also did an MTV Super Bonus with specially-designed MTV logos featuring permutations of the Llap-Goch Man, and maps of Tonga.
Host - Your Plastic Pal Who's Fun To Be With
(HORRORS! NO TONGA QUESTION! However, they did offer the following......)
Realm: Office Trivia
Subrealm: Absolute Monarchies in Africa
Question: What are the little bits of paper punched out with a hole puncher called?
Song: "A Summer Song," by Chad and Jeremy
Question: Dave Barry points out that the letters in this man's name spell "gaseous plant," or "Satan plus ego," but in a rare oversight, Dave failed to mention the obligatory "a less up Tonga"! Who is this man?
Answer: Paul E. Tsongas.
Song: The Politics of Dancing," by Re-Flex
Subrealm: Have We Had a Tonga Question Yet?
Question: What did women in Niamey, Nigeria blame a recent drought on?
Answer: Short skirts.
Song: "Short Shorts," by the Royal Teens
Subrealm: Not Tonga
Question: What were the names of the mythical countries in "Duck Soup" (1933)?
Answer: Freedonia and Sylvania.
Song: "Land of Confusion," by Genesis
(NOTE: The latter two questions were not gotten to by 8 AM.)
Host - The Purpose of the Military is to Kill People and to Break Things
Host - Oh No, Bette Midler!
Question: Actor Charles Grodin had to travel from Arizona to New Zealand in order to film the rapids sequence in the film "Midnight Run." According to Grodin, what is the only way the trip from Arizona could have been longer?
Answer: If they'd had to travel to Tonga instead.
Song: "Happy Anniversary," by the Little River Band
Host - How DARE They Challenge Us With Their Primitive Skills?
Realm: Questions You Haven't Heard Before
Question: According to David Letterman, the movie Wayne's World earned even more money than what?
Answer: The gross national product of Tonga.
Song: "Deja Vu," by Dionne Warwicke.
Host - Can't.....Do......Plaid..... (thud)
Subrealm: I Brake For Cows
Question: In India, what do they call the local version of the rickshaw?
Answer: A Tonga.
Song: "Beast of Burden," by the Rolling Stones
Host - Elvis Needs Boats!
Subrealm: But Markedly Not Sucking
Question: The Sherlock Holmes story "The Sign of Four" features an Andaman Islander who killed Bartholomew Sholto, using a posion dart from a blowgun. What was the islander's name?
Song: "Sheepdip," by Lawnmower Deth
Host - A Bunch of Mindless Jerks Who'll Be First Up Against the Wall When the Revolution Comes
Realm: Western Imperialism
Subrealm: Humor Across Cultural Bounds
Question: Certain people, when quizzed by explorer Houton La Billiardiere to give words for numbers greater than a billion, happily supplied any number of such words (maybe more than a billion). Only later was it discovered that these people were actually deliberately supplying the helpless European with swearwords. Who were these pranksters?
Answer: The people of Tonga.
Song: "Language Is a Virus," by Laurie Anderson
Host - We Make Holes In Teeth!
Realm: The Wide World of Sports
Subrealm: And The USA Would've Done Better, if It Weren't for Those Medalling Kids
Question: The U.S. may have taken the most medals, but don't be bamboozled! In the ratio that REALLY counts, a medals-won-per-citizen basis, what nation led everybody else on the entire Earth at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics?
Song: "Baby, What a Big Surprise," by Chicago (marking the 20th consecutive contest to use "Tonga" as an answer)
(NOTE: As we can now see, this assertion is incorrect. It was actually the 18th question in the 20 contests following the original tiebreaker, 16 of which were asked. Seven of the 20 contests did not include Tonga.)
Host - Gentle Tongue Tongue
Realm: Pre-Millenium Tension
Subrealm: It's a Brave Man Who Can Kick Back and Party
Question: Edward Bobosky is a New York businessman who wants to be among the first people to enter the new millenium. So he and some of his socialite friends have rented a house for the last New Year's Eve of the century to guarantee that they will accomplish this. Where is the house they rented?
Song: "Quiet Village" by Martin Denny
Host - Cthulhu Matata
Realm: Better Living Through Cosmopolitan
Subrealm: I'll have what she's having
Question: In the November 1997 issue of "Cosmopolitan," we find an..... interesting advertisement. Lady Calston of Buffalo, NY offers "tickling panties" designed for "orgasms, anytime, anywhere." These panties come in two kinds: comfortable Brazilian, and one other. Name the other style.
Answer: "Attractive Tonga." (Just need Tonga to get the point.)
Song: "Sex Machine," by the Flying Lizards
Host - A Dead Postman Doesn't Deliver Much Mail
Realm: In The Year 2000
Subrealm: Sorry, I'm allergic to Paprika
Question: Sure, everyone is reserving hotels in New Zealand to greet the new millenium, but what country do you REALLY want to be in, to be in the first country to greet the 21st century?
Song: "Disco 2000," by Pulp
Host - At 200 MPH, There is No Diplomatic Immunity
Realm: It's Good to Be the King
Subrealm: It's REALLY Good to Be the King
Question: King Fatafehi Paulah, a former ruler of Tonga, is believed to hold a rather spectacular distinction. What is it?
Answer: He is believed to have deflowered the most virgins (around 37,000).
Song: "Lucky Man," by Emerson, Lake & Palmer
Host - I've Got Ives in My Pants
The Last Question
Realm: The Absent Presence
Subrealm: It's The End of Trivia as We Know It
Question: It's time for the last question, and we wanna know: What's been missing in this contest?
Song: "Island" by the Art of Noise
Host - Pokemon Labolatory
Realm: Little Umbrellas
Subrealm: Larger Umbrellas
Question: What is the name of the bar in the basement of the Fairmont Hotel, Nob Hill, San Francisco, where it rains from the ceiling?
Answer: The Tonga Room.
Song: "Ray Ray Rain" by Bettie Serveert
Host - Make Way for Ducklings, Motherfucker
Realm: The Lovable Pacific Island That Just Won't Die
Subrealm: No Subrealm Needed
Question: It's unimportant, it's insignificant, and it can't be stopped! It's the kingdom of Tonga! As every schoolchild knows, Tonga is actually a GROUP of islands. We're asking about one of those, Niuatoputapu. It's just a tiny piece of a tiny country, but it holds a big distinction. What world record currently belongs to little Niuatoputapu?
Answer: It's the fastest moving land mass on the entire planet. (As measured by tectonic movement; the island has recently been clocked at about 9.5 inches per year.)
Song: "I Feel the Earth Move" by Carole King
Host - The Funk of 40,000 Years
Realm: Friends, Romans, Countrymen
Subrealm: Through Thin and Thinner
Question: The 1997 MTV Fashion Award for Best Female Model had two runners-up with one-word names. One was Kiara. What was the other?
Answer: Tanga (pronounced "Tonga").
Song: "Supermodel" by Jill Sobule
Host - Holy Sack and the Resident Vomit Specialist
Host - I Say It's Duck Season, and I Say "Fire!"
This very alum team featured several of the folks who'd asked the original "Tonga" question, as Giant Pygmies of Beckles (Raf, Dan, Ted, Andy, Rob, Helen, Greg, Gary). And it also featured at least two of the players who correctly answered Tonga, as We Begin Bombing in Five Minutes (Des and Dom). With this much history oozing through their hardened veins, the team served up a trifecta of Tonga. Adding in the Realms & Subrealms, Tonga was mentioned in five consecutive questions.
Realm: Great Moments in Tongan Finance
Subrealm: If You Know Any Others, Let Us Know
Question: In 1991 and 1992, the company Tongasat shocked its business competitors worldwide, by legally claiming almost 50% of a certain finite resource. What?
Answer: Satellite orbit routes.
(NOTE: The International Telecommunications Union (which basically keeps space stuff from crashing into each other) approved Tongasat's applications to own the satellite routes, even though Tonga's space program isn't quite active. Everybody's favorite island nation now owns 7 of the remaining 16 routes, and will lease them to you for a sizeable profit.)
Song: "In the Meantime" by Spacehog
Realm: Mouse Chow
Subrealm: Just a Tip... DON'T Order the Frozen Walt Slurpee
Question: If you are at the Kona Cafe in Disney World, and have a hankering for banana-stuffed, grilled, egg-dipped bread, what should you order?
Answer: "Tonga Toast."
Song: "Oops.... I Did It Again" by Britney Spears
Realm: Countries Slightly Bigger Than Tonga
Subrealm: Hell, Papa Charlie's is Bigger Than Tonga
Question: According to VH1, three of the Top 100 Greatest Rock and Roll Moments on TV were renditions of "The Star Spangled Banner." Who performed them?
Answer: Marvin Gaye; Whitney Houston; Roseanne.
Song: "Cantaloop" by US3
Realm: Big-Time Sports Contracts
Subrealm: The Pay's the Thing
Question: ESPN's "Outside the Lines" described Texas Ranger shortstop Alex Rodriguez's record-setting contract in what we here at Williams Trivia considered a rather pithy way. To WHAT did they compare the superstar's megabucks?
Answer: "The annual gross national product of Tonga."
Song: "History Repeating" by the Propellerheads
Realm: Cross-Promotional Characters
Subrealm: We Promise This Question Won't Mention Tonga.... Oops! Damn!
Question: Who has been Emmy-nominated for playing the same character in 3 different series? And please name the three series.
Answer: Kelsey Grammer; "Cheers," "Wings," and "Frasier."
Song: "If I Didn't Care" by the Ink Spots
Host - Neutered Vampires Who Cheat at Kitten Poker
Realm: Professional Wrestling
Subrealm: That's right, REAL wrestling
Question: Bobby "The Brain" Heenan had the figure-four leg lock, The Undertaker has his Tombstone Piledriver, but Meng has the most terrifying "patented" move of them all. What is this move that Meng uses to crush his opponents?
Answer: The Tongan Death-Grip.
Song: "The Crusher" by the Novas
Realm: Island Nations
Subrealm: South Pacific Island Nations
Question: What country was the first to officially enter the new millennium, and how did it achieve this goal?
Answer: Kiribati; in 1999 it switched time zones for its easternmost islands, making it 1st instead of last to start a new day
Song: "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?" by Chicago
Realm: Funny-Sounding Words
Subrealm: All words from foreign languages are funny sounding!
Question: From what language do we get the word TABOO?
Song: "Mistress of Taboo" by The Plasmatics
Realm: Have we had enough Tonga questions yet?
Subrealm: Okay then, how about other South Pacific Island Nations?
Question: Annually, the people of the Duke of York Islands send a canoe out into the ocean loaded with money and decorated with green leaves. Why do they partake in this bizarre custom?
Answer: They are paying the fish for their relatives who were caught during the previous year.
Song: "Lyin' Ass Bitch" by Fishbone
Host - Joanie Loves Trotsky
Realm: Help Wanted
Subrealm: Help Wanted Getting Rid of the Old Help
Question: Jesse Bogdonoff had what unusual job in what country? Why did he lose it?
Answer: He was the court jester of Tonga. He embezzled most of the country's money.
Song: "I Started a Joke" by the Bee Gees
Host - Night of the Day of the Dawn of the Son of the Bride of the Return of the Revenge of the Terror of the Attack of the Evil Mutant Hellbound Zombified Flesh-Eating Subhumanoid Living Dead Part IV
Host - Click Here to Get Huge
Realm: Her Majesty's Royal Navy
Subrealm: We're Bligh-Curious
Question: What was the last stop for the HMS Bounty, just before the famous Mutiny?
Song: "Sister Christian" by Night Ranger
Realm: More Oceanography
Subrealm: How Low Can You Go?
Question: We won't insult you by asking you to name the deepest part of Earth's oceans. However, we WILL insult you by asking you to name the SECOND-deepest part.
Answer: The Tonga Trench.
Song: "Down in a Hole" by Alice in Chains
Realm: Bulbous Cheesy Asses
Subrealm: Will Be Phoned In As a Fake 2-Point Team Later Tonight
Question: If you like to watch obese men grinding their sweaty asscrack into people's faces, sure, you can give "The West Wing" a try. But you can't go wrong with pro wrestling's Rikishi. However, Rikishi's older brother also wrestled in the WWF for a few years. What was his character name?
Answer: The Tonga Kid.
Song: "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother" by the Hollies
Realm: The Family That Sings Together
Subrealm: Gets a Question in Some Dumb Trivia Game Together
Question: The Bee Gees had 3, the Jackson Five had 5. But what Top 40 group had the most siblings? And why do we care so much?
Answer: The Jets (8); they're the only Top 40 group from Tonga.
Song: "Can't You Stop It Now?" by the Mixed Emotions
Realm: Otherwise Unremarkable Countries
Subrealm: But It Ain't Tonga
Question: What is the only country in which the name of an inhabitant thereof is a palindrome?
Answer: Nauru. (A citizen is a Nauruan.)
Song: "S.O.S." by ABBA
Host - Worker and Parasite
Realm: "The Daily Show"
Subrealm: And Now, Our Chief Question 55 Correspondent
Question: "The Daily Show" has been keeping its eye on the situation in Iraq, or as they call it, "Mess O'Potamia." Last April, the Daily Show reported that which country was threatening to withdraw its troop?
Answer: Tonga. (Incidentally, the troop is named Hale.)
Song: "Coming Home Soldier" by Bobby Vinton
Realm: Trivia's Island Paradise
Subrealm: Take A Friggin' Guess
Question: Tonga may be tiny, but it leads the whole, entire planet in at least one category. Whereas countries like England and Germany only have one of these per every 10 citizens, Tonga boasts almost 8 for every single inhabitant. Eight what?
Answer: Pornographic webpages. (*Tonga has been called the "porniest country in the world.")
Song: "I'm a Pig" by the Angry Samoans