‘I just see through the quiz maker mechanics faster while playing’

There is no shortage of strong candidates in ‘The smartest person in theworld’, but we were still slightly impressed in recent days by the flexibilitywith which Bart ‘Pluis’ Cannaerts beat himself through the quiz rounds. Thatis not entirely surprising, because the comedian was the only person in theworld to hold all positions in ‘The smartest person’: he was a jury memberdozens of times, he was a presenter for two episodes and now he is working onhis third series as a candidate. The question arises: which place is the best?

Joris BellwinkelFriday September 30, 202212:00

BART CANNAERTS “This place. I like to play games, and ‘The smartestperson’ is a really fun game to play.”

HUMO The playing pleasure is visible.

CANNAERTS «The first two episodes I was very nervous, but as a jury memberI am every time. Then you feel the pressure: I have to be funny now. By theway, presenting was also very intense and exciting, because I wanted toErik ( Van Looy , ed.) and don’t disappoint the editors. As acandidate it is a lot more comfortable, the only pressure is the pressure youput on yourself.”

HUMO Do you put a lot of pressure on yourself?

CANNAERTS “Not very consciously, but I am competitive. I can handle myloss very well, but winning is a little bit more fun. Especially because Iknow: if I win, I can come back.”

HUMO As a child you already designed your own quizzes. That love has nevergone away.

CANNAERTS “No, I think both taking quizzes and thinking up are keitof. Inthe past year I have worked behind the scenes on four TV quizzes. Putting itall together, coming up with the right questions, it’s a bit nerdy, of course,but I like it all a lot.”

HUMO You are gradually becoming the quiz expert in Belgium.

CANNAERTS (laughs) «That is quite a difference with when I took part in’The smartest person’ ten years ago: then I had never participated in a quiz.Hopefully the experience will give me an advantage this time.

»I already notice that I can see through the quiz maker mechanics faster whileplaying. That I have to list five keywords for a certain writer and I canquickly get to the essence: they are still looking for the title of that onebook anyway and I don’t know it, so I’m not going to list all the other thingsI know about that writer.”

HUMO I note: it is a beginner’s mistake to immediately display all yourknowledge.

CANNAERTS “Yes, you should not be distracted by everything you know abouta topic, but think about what the quiz creators want to hear. Especially inthe final, every second is crucial, so you have to talk as little as possibleand shout ‘stop’ as soon as possible.”

HUMO That’s what Erik meant when he said prior to your participation: ‘Bartknows the tricks of the trade.’ Are there still gaps in your generalknowledge?

CANNAERTS «I’m now over 40, so I’m not completely up to date with whatyoung people are doing. When you are 30, you go to parties more often, you goto the cinema more often, you know the popular music.

»Last spring I was allowed to make ‘Today’s Day’ for five weeks, then Ilearned a lot from current events. Then I heard that Rihanna had a childwith A$AP Rocky and I thought: ah yes, now I know A$AP Rocky. I work forthat program with a very young editors and that also keeps me young. _(blows)_Now I sound very old, don’t I?”

HUMO As a quiz maker you undoubtedly watch many other quizzes. Which one doyou look up to?

CANNAERTS “I’m a big fan of ‘Pointless’ on the BBC. Then a hundred Britonsare asked to name a Greek god, for example, and you as a participant must thenname a Greek god who has never or as little as possible been said. That’s sucha wonderfully quizzical thing: wanting to know something that nobody knows. Itis often completely pointless knowledge, but that is exactly what is rewardedin that quiz.”

HUMO During your first participation in ‘De smartest mens’, in 2008, youplayed Philippe Geubels home after just one episode. To do this, you had tolower yourself for 40 seconds in the final game. 40 long seconds, becauseGeubels kept calling ‘ what a loser’ you were.

CANNAERTS (laughs) “Yes, there you saw how completely different weapproached our participation: the difference between a player who really wantsto win and the comedian who is just his funny self. My only plan was: I justhave to win that game here, because who knows, maybe I can reach more comedyfans this way. I was only doing quizzes and nothing else. In the meantime,Geubels was mainly being himself and everything that came out of his mouth washilarious. He did what a comedian should do: joke. And he did it in alegendary way.

“I stayed in it for four episodes myself, I’ve never been funny and it hasn’timpacted my career. Four years later I was allowed to participate againbecause nobody really remembered my passage ( laughs ).»

HUMO After the final, Geubels said that he did grant a ‘comedian on his way’the victory. But look, fourteen years later you are more famous than ever,with your own quiz on One, participations in ‘The very smartest human being’and in ‘The Masked Singer’.

CANNAERTS «I have become more widely known. Thanks to ‘The Masked Singer’,for example, children suddenly know me. On holiday by the sea, the number ofselfies with children went from zero to a hundred last summer (laughs).

»My participation in ‘The Masked Singer’ and the fact that I was allowed toreplace Erik twice as presenter of ‘The smartest man’ may have led to me beingmore top of mind was with the bosses. That because of this I was asked topresent ‘The day of today’ for One and then suddenly came up with my head onTV every day.

“I wouldn’t call this the pinnacle of my career, but it’s probably thepinnacle of my fame.”

HUMO This year it has been fifteen years since you won the Humo’s Comedy Cup.Did you spend a lot of time on career planning during that time?

CANNAERTS «No, there was never a clever plan behind it, I especially hadthe incredible chance that everything overtook me or came my way. Of course Isigned up for Humo’s Comedy Cup because you know it opens doors when you win.That turned out to be the case: I was soon asked to work for television.Called a little later Tom Lenaerts me: ‘Do you want to present ‘ThePappenheimers’?’ Well, yes. At one point he asked: ‘Do you want to set up aproduction house with me?’ Well, yes. VTM asked if I wanted to participate in’The Masked Singer’, Het Geluidshuis asked if I wanted to write a radio play…Well, yes.

“They weren’t all big dreams or things I was desperately waiting for, but Ithought each and every one of them was super cool to do. The lump of butter Ifell into is huge.”

HUMO Are you not only at the height of your fame, but also at the height ofyour happiness?

CANNAERTS (thinks) «I’m doing well, but I don’t often ask myself: howhappy am I now? And is that happier than last week? Happiness is in manythings, isn’t it? Can you really measure that?

»I just took my 6-year-old daughter to school, she is now going to first gradeand a few friends immediately came running up to her to play together. Therealization that my daughter likes to go to school, has friends and ishealthy, we have all the luck in the world in that area too. Yes, I can tellyou that I cycled home this morning with a big smile on my face.”

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