Here’s a link to my June 4 column that ran in Bluffton Today.
Here’s the text
Knowing the answer is only part of trivia’s fun
I’ve immersed myself in a new subculture over the past few months.
It is one that I really never knew existed. I’ve always been good at “Jeopardy” thanks to head-to-head contests with my dad for most of my teens.
And since I’ve been of drinking age, I have taken great joys in finding unique watering holes with good spirits and grub.
Yet, combine those two passions and you’ve created a fascinating new species.
And I don’t say that in a negative way. Bar trivia nights are among the most fun I have on a regular basis.
What survivor of the RMS Titanic disaster became known after her death as “Unsinkable”?
If you knew that was Molly Brown, you’re off to a good start.
But it’s as much about the people watching as it about answering the questions.
First, you have the couples that are just out for a date night. And that’s a beautiful thing. I’m envious when I see them and often ask for the number of their babysitter.
Competitive juices eventually take over, though. Relationship dynamics are immediately on display.
They both know the answer and both insist they’re right. Who backs off? And when they’re wrong, how do they take the “I told you so”?
Just in my short time on the local circuit, I can say without hesitation that trivia night is a great test for both the newbie and long-time relationship.
If you can survive the mental Jenga that takes place over that two hours, I think you can survive any level of fighting or hardship. (I’m only half kidding there.)
What annual television special was introduced in 2005 on Animal Planet as counter-programming to the Super Bowl?
If you answered The Puppy Bowl, you’re a pop-culture asset to The Conglomerates.
These are the friends who form supergroups. They have History Guy, Sports Girl, Music Buff and the all-important Mr. Potpourri, the guy who knows a little bit of everything but isn’t a master in any one part of the trivia universe.
There’s always a Magneto in the pack, the evil genius who compiled the supergroup. And if you know who Magneto is, you’re likely a Nerd Herd asset, the player who knows all about comic books, video games and Silicon Valley tech startups.
The best part of the supergroups is watching every feuding clique from our high school years work as one. The jocks, geeks, cheerleaders and bookworms all coexist in a finely tuned symphony of knowledge.
It always brings me back to the finale of “Rocky IV” when Rocky has taken down Drago.
The Gorbachev look-alike appears as if he’s about to launch a nuclear warhead until Rock grabs the microphone and says, “If I can change, you can change!”
I literally leave the bar some nights with a renewed hope for humanity.
All this, and we’re usually only playing for bar credits or a free pizza. It’s about so much more than the prize. It’s about the camaraderie and the journey that takes place over those two hours.
More recently, I’ve gone from group player to host of these trivia nights. It began in Savannah, where I was asked to host a Thursday night game at Uncle Maddio’s Pizza.
I watched local legends like Trivia Lance master the art of trivia MC’ing and I was intrigued. Yes, I had radio experience, but I soon learned this was much harder than reading questions and knowing how to handle a mic.
First, there’s the music between questions. You have to have the perfect mix of current songs and legends, pop and rock, adult and kids.
Music is the great equalizer. It can create and keep the right mood even for the group that is missing a lot of questions. If they’re feeling the vibe, it’s still a good time.
Then there is knowing how to read the room. Is there a mix of all supergroup players in the crowd? Are they more of a classic rock loving group? Do they like a fast-paced game or some wisecracks in between every question?
The good trivia master always comes ready for any contingency, equipped with extra music mixes, one-liners and a full supply of substitute questions to make any room happy.
I’ve probably already said too much. I don’t want to be the Masked Magician giving away all the trade secrets. Lord knows, I’m far from a master MC. But I haven’t gotten the boot from a gig yet, either.
The next test will be moving my talents from Savannah to Old Town. I start as host of Wednesday night trivia at Captain Woody’s tonight. Then, we begin a regular Monday night game at Moon Mi Pizza next door on June 9.
Do you know which Hall of Fame quarterback’s son was arrested on assault charges last weekend?
You may be the greatest asset of all, the hybrid. You know sports and current events.
You, my friend, are too valuable to be sitting home tonight. Get yourself to the Promenade over the next week, have some fun and put your talents on display for the crowd.
After all, I’m probably making too much of this sociology study stuff. Above all, trivia nights are an escape from the mundane work week.
Winning is just a nice fringe benefit.
Tim Wood is a writer living in Bluffton. Email him with comments or story ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org. And “like” Timmy Time Trivia on Facebook, where you can get a free answer for each show, like tonight’s freebie, John Elway.