Test knowledge, or lack thereof, with trivia nights
Local establishments tap into useless information
If you’re anything like me, you’ve forgotten every mathematical theorem and scientific method you ever learned in school and yet can’t shake the endless stash of weird pop culture knowledge and insignificant factoids burrowed deep inside your brain.
Ask me to name the chemical symbol for tin or to write down the quadratic formula or to rattle off the presidents in order – you know, useful information – and I seriously have to strain. But ask me about a band’s discography, a TV show’s cast of characters or a movie’s Oscar wins and you’re firmly in my wheelhouse.
Sound familiar? Then you’ll likely find a safe haven in bar trivia, which has been around for decades but has experienced a recent renaissance of sorts in local pubs, restaurants and breweries. It seems like there’s a different trivia event nearly every night of the week – sometimes more than one – and they allow you to flex your mind muscles in a friendly but competitive environment.
“Everybody wants to be good at something,” said Lucas McIntyre, who hosts trivia at Jones Radiator, 120 E. Sprague Ave., on Monday nights. “Some people don’t have a lot else going for them, but they know a lot of stuff. … I’m a gigantic sponge of useless information. I have broad but shallow knowledge.”
“I think people – if they’re like me – like to show off to a certain degree,” said Isaac Jensen, host of Thursday night trivia at Iron Goat Brewing Co., 2204 E. Mallon Ave. “It’s ‘look how smart I am,’ even if it’s just trivial information.”
Jensen is front and center at the Iron Goat, with nothing but a microphone and a laptop. His material is heavy on comic book, video game and movie trivia, with the occasional this-or-that category (example: did this Civil War general fight for the Union or the Confederacy?) or rounds bolstered by audio clues (finish the Monty Python quote, for instance).
At Jones, McIntyre has access to a screen and digital projector, so there is the occasional visual category. There’s also a little more unpredictability in between rounds: If more than one team gets first place in the same round, tie breakers include the childhood game Red Light, Green Light, arm wrestling and the occasional dance-off.
But both McIntyre and Jensen say that many of their weekly trivia participants have become regulars, which has allowed them to develop a rapport with the crowd that adds to the atmosphere: It’s as much about the company as it is the actual trivia.
“The environment that the Iron Goat has provided fits perfectly with what I’m trying to do with trivia,” Jensen said. “It’s almost a ‘Cheers’-like attitude: Everyone knows your name, everyone can have a good laugh and a good beer, even if they don’t know any of the questions.”
“There are people who show up and do poorly all the time,” McIntyre said, “but they still come out and have a good time. There’s a pride in consistently doing poorly but sticking to it.”