Pop quiz, hot shot: How well do you know Kansas City? Sure, you can spout off the city’s top barbecue joints in a jiff, and kudos on your baseline knowledge of jazz, the arts and those world-renowned Plaza fountains. But those are all layups. Gimmes. Freebies, if you will.
How well do you really know this fine city? Well, here’s your chance to find out. We’ve come up with five of our favorite KC categories and grouped them into three areas: What you better know, what you should know, and what you might not know.
Let’s see whatcha got.
The Kansas City Comedy Scene
What you better know: These famous dudes are all hilarious, and they’re all from KC. Before Paul Rudd killed it in Clueless and Jason Sudeikis starred on SNL, both were students at Shawnee Mission West in Overland Park, Kan. Rob Riggle, who’s a Daily Show alum and has been in several hit comedies, including The Hangover and 21 Jump Street, attended class just down the street at Shawnee Mission South.
What you should know: When it comes to KC comedy, there’s more than meets the eye. You may not know their names, but there are Kansas Citians killin’ it in standup clubs all over the country. KC comedians Chris Porter and A.J. Finney both competed in the NBC reality series Last Comic Standing, while KC-native Mike Baldwin won the renowned Seattle International Comedy Competition in 2011.
What you might not know: Led by the Kansas City Improv Co. and Comedy City, KC is quickly gaining a reputation as one of the best improv spots in the country. And unlike standup, everything these comedians do is completely made up on the spot. Come September, some of the nation’s funniest troupes will be performing here as part of the Kansas City Improv Festival.
The KC Underground
What you better know: The Groundhog Run in KC is believed to be the only 100% underground sanctioned 10k race in the nation. Not only that, but it’s for a good cause. The race has raised over $4 million for children with special needs since its inception in 1982. Plus, you totally feel like Batman down there.
What you should know: There are bars, and then there is Manifesto. This super-secret speakeasy beneath the Rieger Hotel is hard to get into (you’ve gotta make reservations weeks in advance), but once you’re in, it’s cocktail heaven. Trust us.
What you might not know: Most people are familiar with Michael Smith’s restaurant in the Crossroads, as well as his spinoff concept Extra Virgin next door, but few people know about the creative gem lying beneath them: 19 Below. Aptly named for its geographical location, 19 Below does just about everything when it comes to video production and has worked with some of the largest clients in the country. And oh yeah, they helped create this.
What you better know: When it comes to the pitch, no MLS team does it better than Sporting KC. The club not only won the 2013 MLS Cup, its star players — Matt Besler and Graham Zusi — played starring roles during the United State’s run in the World Cup. And did we mention the Cauldron? Those peeps are nuts. And they wear scarves. Scary.
What you should know: The Pitch is also a really bada** Kansas City newspaper. Since 1980, this alternative pub has been covering everything KC with a flair that makes reading newspapers (what are those again?) actually enjoyable.
What you might not know: In late July, Kansas City announced plans to construct a $75 million-plus National Training and Coaching Development Center, which will also be home to the U.S. Soccer Federation and its national teams. The village will be located about 10 minutes away from Sporting Park, ensuring soccer domination for generations to come.
What you better know: Kanas City cares. Like, a lot. And nowhere is that more evident than at reStart in downtown KC. Since 1981, it’s played a major part in trying to end homelessness in the metro. Last year reStart served over 28,000 people. If you’re looking to give a helping hand, there’s no better place to (re)Start.
What you should know: The Great Plains SPCA serves more than 35,000 needy pets annually and has a bi-state presence in Merriam and Independence. It’s a real-life Animal House, minus John Belushi and beer.
What you might not know: The Down Syndrome Guild of Kansas City provides support and resources for individuals with Down Syndrome and their families. You can even donate 30 bucks in honor of its 30th anniversary. Not saying you should do it … but you should totally do it.
Arts and Crafts
What you better know: We’re talking adult crafts here, and there’s nothing better than KC-brewed Boulevard beer. There’s something for every occasion: a dry and fizzy Tank 7 or warm and sugary Sixth Glass when you’re feeling relaxed and happy (or want something really good with dinner); a KC Pils when you feel like drinking while you give back (10% of KC sales go to KC charities!); hard-to-find but totally excellent annual releases of Rye-on-Rye or Saison Brett when you want to impress; or the wildly popular Unfiltered Wheat for every day of the year.
What you should know: When it comes to the arts, Kansas City’s got this place on lock. There’s the Plaza Art Fair, First Fridays in the Crossroads, the Nelson, the KC art institute and so much more. There’s even paint ball. That counts as art. Right?
What you might not know: Think you’re raising the next Pablo Picasso? Then take the little booger to Kaleidoscope in Crown Center. Best part? Admission is free, provided that you bring a child. Preferably one you know.