John and Erin Tiernan celebrated their 19th wedding anniversary Tuesday. In lieu of dinner and flowers, the Oak Bluffs couple headed to their regular stations at The Ritz Cafe, where they’ve hosted weekly trivia and karaoke together for the past five years. 

Better known by the stage names Johnny Showtime and Mrs. Showtime, the pair are a mainstay of year-round nightlife, amassing a small but devoted following Tuesday nights at 7 as Islanders battle to win the coveted first-place title and accompanying $50 gift certificate. Karaoke follows at 9 p.m., allowing frustrated triviagoers a much-needed emotional outlet. Through it all, Mr. Showtime, with a pair of ice-blue eyes that gleam like LED headlights, is both king and court jester of the weeknight festivities, guided by Mrs. Showtime’s steady, supportive hand.

There was nowhere else the two would rather be on Tuesday.

“A lot of relationship experts talk about the importance of date night. This is our date night,” Mr. Showtime told the Gazette earlier in the week.

Both self-described “hustlers,” the Showtimes said they never pass up an opportunity to make an extra buck. It’s fitting, they said, that their anniversary wouldn’t be any different.

“We’ve always worked,” Mrs. Showtime said. “We’ve always pitched in financially to provide for the family. We’re teammates.”

The Tiernans celebrated their 19th wedding anniversary during trivia night. — Jeanna Shepard

That they have now been married 19 years is a particular point of pride for Mr. Showtime, who told Erin he was going to marry her the first time they met.

Mrs. Showtime felt differently.

She and her friends had gone to the movie theatre where he worked and they were introduced.

“I walked in and he was bent over on the floor and looked up and said, ‘I didn’t know you were going to be this beautiful,’” she said. “I rolled my eyes and told my friends, ‘I don’t think I like this guy.’”

Mr. Showtime’s romantic nature eventually won her over, she said. The couple moved to the Island in 2001 after Mr. Showtime inherited his mother’s childhood home. They married in 2004.

In the early years, Mr. Showtime took a wide range of jobs to make ends meet, while Mrs. Showtime worked as a clerk at Basics and Eastaway Clothing Co. Now, more than two decades later, Mr. Showtime co-owns the Dockside Inn with Caleb Caldwell and runs the touring company Oak Bluffs Land and Wharf Co. Mrs. Showtime now co-owns Basics.

“It’s the only job she’s ever had on the Island — besides trivia,” Mr. Showtime said.

The moniker Johnny Showtime was born in 2005. — Jeanna Shepard

A year into their marriage, Mr. Showtime met the second love of his life: variety entertainment. In 2005, Vamp Campbell, the long-reigning karaoke host at Seasons, decided to step down and enlisted him and Dan “Handsome Dan” Cassidy to take over. It was then that the moniker “Johnny Showtime” was born.

“I tend to ‘get the party started,’” Mr. Showtime explained. “In other words, when I walk into a room or a bar or a party, ‘It’s showtime!’ Like most nicknames it started out as a negative — that I’m too showboat-like — and I just took it and owned it.”

As Island nightlife boomed, Mr. Showtime and Mr. Cassidy parted ways to cover more ground. There was plenty of karaoke to go around. When Mr. Cassidy started doing trivia nights, Mr. Showtime followed suit.

“He’ll be happy to hear that I said I copied him,” Mr. Showtime said.

In 2010, the couple had a son, Griffin, named after Mrs. Showtime’s maiden name, and Mr. Showtime’s worldview shifted. He wasn’t sure he wanted to keep hosting karaoke and trivia nights as a father and told his colleagues he wanted to quit.

“They nicknamed my son the ‘Showstopper’ because of it,” he said. “In the end, I was making too much money and decided there wasn’t any shame in providing for my family.”

“You have to have a big ego to be a karaoke host,” he continued. “It’s a pretty embarrassing job sometimes. It’s not something a 47-year-old man should have on his resume.”

As the Showtime trivia empire expanded, Mr. Showtime found he needed additional help. Unable to keep an assistant for very long, he went with the person who has stuck by him longest.

“After the fifth or so person quit, I said, ‘Why don’t I just do it?’” Mrs. Showtime said.

She took to the trivia table in 2017, first helping to tally answers and eventually becoming the mastermind behind the couple’s infamous PowerPoint presentations, rife with lewd jokes and memes.

“I put memes in to get him into trouble,” she said. “I look for things that are little edgy, a little dirty, usually a little sexist, so people think he did it.”

Before long, fans were calling her “Mrs. Showtime,” a nickname that initially made her bristle, she said. She had always wanted to remain an independent woman, and even changing her name to Tiernan, her husband’s real last name, had been a protracted discussion.

“It’s completely opposite from the person I am,” she said. “I’ve started to look at it like a character. Mrs. Showtime is just a character I play when I’m here, just like Johnny Showtime is a character.”

“He’s much calmer at home,” she added.

The two have since become all but synonymous with Tuesday nights at the Ritz, and their anniversary announcement this week drew raucous congratulations from the trivia regulars. It’s ironic, then, that Mr. Showtime is now considering moving his trivia nights to Monday so he can start attending Oak Bluffs select board meetings.

“This town has jumped the shark,” he said.

This past week, the Oak Bluffs ruling to push up last call to 12:30 a.m. officially went into effect, cutting the party short by 30 minutes. It’s a decision that could have negative ripple effects for all Island businesses, Mr. Showtime said, and one of a larger pattern of legislation stifling the town’s tourism industry.

“I started thinking about how vibrant Circuit avenue was at the time when I started,” he said. “On one end of Circuit avenue, we had Sweet Life Café and Balance. On the other far side, we had a new nightclub just opening up.... We had The Rare Duck, the Lamppost, Seasons. We had Park Corner Bistro.”

“It was a vibrant, great business-friendly, nightlife-friendly time to be in OB,” he continued. “And now it’s just me. It’s just down to karaoke. It’s just down to the Ritz. And it’s sad.”

The days of Trivia Tuesdays may or may not be waning, but in the Ritz on Tuesday night, there was only love in the air. Mrs. Showtime said that aside from their night at the Ritz, the two celebrated early with a vacation in Bermuda the week before.

But that was really just a bonus.

“I’m not a fan of the have-tos,” Mrs. Showtime said. “I don’t like Valentine’s Day, birthdays, anniversaries....I love that it’s just us living our life together. It’s perfect to me.”