Saturday, August 16, 2008

A Study of English Customs. #1: The Pub Quiz

In high school, I was a member of Academic Team. Yes, I was one of those nerds who loves showing off her random knowledge of trivia and meaningless information. I believe most people who enjoy trivia are considered nerds in America. The English, on the other hand, have made trivia and general knowledge an art form. (I say English because I don't know if this extends to the rest of the UK.) If you've talked to me about my time abroad, you've probably heard me talk about QI, which stands for Quite Interesting. Basically, Stephen Fry conducts a round table of comedians to talk about random stuff for half an hour. It's fascinating, entertaining, and enlightening. The BBC also broadcasts shows like Eggheads, Battle of the Brains, and Mastermind, all of which center around knowledge. Mock the Week gets a panel of comedians to discuss/focus on news stories which broke the previous week. America's only equivalents are Jeopardy and Who Wants to be a Millionaire, and maybe The Daily Show--though that's broadcast here and is a bit of a stretch regardless.

All this says nothing about the general population, of course. We all know that what's broadcast on television doesn't necessarily reflect the public's interest, and I'm not going to bother looking up ratings. What does indicate that trivia is a popular phenomenon is the presence of pub quizzes. Tuesday nights at a pub down the road are dedicated as quiz nights. I went with K and a few of her friends, because I'd heard about pub quizzes when I was here before, but never quite made it to one. I didn't really know what to expect.

The Pub Quiz Experience
Apparently, there's a Wikipedia entry for pub quiz. I'd say it's pretty accurate. The quiz started unusually late at this pub, at half past 9. Apparently there were complications with the mic; at one point the announcer said something like, "If this is anyone's first time to a pub quiz, they must be wondering if it's always like this. It's not." So apparently my first pub quiz was exceptional, and it cut out a round to make the game go more quickly. Usually, there are 6, including one film, one music, one picture, one connections, and two general knowledge rounds. For the picture round, each team is given a copy of a sheet with pictures of people on it--I think there were 10 on the one we got. The subjects are usually celebrities who are topical--Bernie Mac, Isaac Hayes, Michael Phelps, and the latest Big Brother evictee were on it--but may be bizarre celebrites or people from the pub as well. Teams are generally formed by table, and I think almost everyone in the pub, ranging from high school-age to maybe mid-60s, participated. The connections round was quite difficult. Each question's answer connects to the next somehow, and they're all connected by one subject, which is the answer to question 10. (There are 10 questions per round.) I didn't follow it, but apparently the connection this week was Madonna, and somehow next week's will be connected to her. The music round consisted of 10 song clips played back-to-back without gaps. 1/2 point is awarded for song title, and 1/2 point for the artist. For the entire game, answers are to be written down on a sheet handed out about 10 minutes before the start, then turned in after all the questions have been asked. The film round didn't happen this week, but I think is self-explanatory. General knowledge is, as you'd expect, a catch-all. Sadly, as I was fairly useless this week, I've forgotten most of the questions that were asked. I remember the ones I was able to answer--"In what children's film do Michael and Jane live at 17 Cherry Tree Lane?"* and "What disease gets its name from the Latin word for crab?"** My team was all right, though; we tied for 11th out of approximately 25-30 teams. I was pleased, anyway. The prize was 10 pounds at the bar.

While they were calculating the results, they had 3 individuals come to the back for a chance at a different prize. When the staff passed out the answer sheets, they also brought around a jar and raffle tickets. For a pound, you could buy a ticket which would be entered into a raffle. If your number was drawn, you had a chance to go to the back and answer a question. If you answered correctly, you would win all the money in the jar. This week, it was a little over 90 pounds. If the first person answered incorrectly, a second person would get a chance, and then a third if that person failed as well. If three people failed, the money would roll over to next week. Unfortunately for me, someone won on Tuesday. I shall have to go back, though, to try my hand at more of this trivial pursuit.

* Mary Poppins



At 5:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like a lot of fun. I wish they would do things like that here; maybe then I would go out a little more often.


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