Dennis “The Quizmaster” George knows how to work a crowd, just ask those in attendance at the American Legion Post in Eden last Friday (March 1).
At the fundraiser for the Eden Boys and Girls Club, George ran around the room yelling out questions, cracking jokes and throwing out prizes to those who got the answers right.
The crowd yelled and laughed along, clearly enjoying the performance. The show went on like this for the next 45 minutes, with several game show-like set-ups and trivia contests pitting various audience members against each other.
Through it all, George, who turns 62 “soon,” never stopped moving, whether he was dancing with a contestant or running around the room asking questions. “The Quizmaster” truly enjoys what he does.
“You never know what’s going to happen,” he said, talking about his variety show, aptly titled The Dennis George Quiz Master Game Show. “I love to perform.”
George, whose real name is Dennis Lalka, started out performing at Founding Fathers Pub, a bar in Buffalo in 1996. He was inspired by the game show hosts of a previous generation.
“I love the old game shows and their hosts, like Groucho Marx, Bob Barker, Monty Hall, Gene Rayburn,” he said. “These guys are my heroes. I would watch these shows, and it’s my passion.”
Since his start at Founding Fathers, he has expanded the variety show into a multi-media experience, featuring props, signs and “Mr. Music,” his brother-in-law who keeps the sound effects and music going.
“After five years, we paid our dues and were able to take it to the next level,” he said. “That meant more equipment, bigger sets, a game board and Family Feud style buzzer systems.”
George’s wife, who he refers to as “Sue-Vanna,” also gets involved with the shows, playing his cohost.
“It’s really a family type show,” he said.
While George mostly performs in Western New York, he has done shows in Las Vegas, New York City and for Disney. He does fundraisers, corporate events and special anti-bullying shows for Frontier Central School District.
“I bring the kids up and they do skits on anti-bullying and it becomes a question and answer period,” he said. “They get the message, and we always end with a fun Family Feud game at the end. Bullying is a big problem in the United States, and it’s been like that as long as I can remember.”
George, who worked at Rich Products for 20 years before making the game show his full-time work owns hundreds of board games and trivia books.
“I have 350 games at home,” he said. “I drive my wife crazy with this. I just buy games just to get the questions.”
While the shows are a lot of fun for George, his staff and the audience members, the real work goes on behind the scenes. There is the set-up that takes place before the shows, and the break down afterward. He also prepares for shows everyday, he said, and hits the gym four or five times a week to maintain his youthful stamina.
“It’s not like I’m 20-years-old,” George said. “It’s hard for me to tone it down.”
All in all, George has no complaints. There isn’t anything else he would rather be doing.
“It’s my love,” he said. “Besides my family, it’s my favorite thing to do.”
The Dennis George Quiz Master Game Show will be performing at Oakwood Manor, located at 2985 Lakeview Road, on Saturday, March 9 at 7 p.m. The event is sponsored by the Hamburg Sunrise Rotary Club. George also produces a monthly quiz for The Sun. For more information, visit his website at www.quizyourmemory.com