Noting that there’s a lot of competition in the trivia game arena, Finley Dunne’s proprietor Joe Kenny, took the time to scout out a few places that hosted trivia nights to see what they did right and wrong. “It’s important to keep the game straightforward and simple to understand,” he believes.
Finley Dunne’s runs just three rounds of 10 questions each, with teams garnering one point for each correct answer. The highest number of points per round wins, and there is an over-all points winner for the night. “I keep the questions broad enough and not too difficult so that people from different backgrounds can play,” adds trivia host Matt Motyka, the self-styled “Trivia Jerk” who has been conducting game nights for the past two years at Finley Dunne’s Tavern.
Question topics run the gamut from pop culture and current events to history and science. Picture questions, where contestants have to identify persons or objects from photos, and music clips, where players must identify a song from a snippet of the tune, are popular and entertaining trivia formats.
More than anything, trivia fans want to be entertained and that starts with the host. Most operators contract out with an enthusiast or expert to host the show and come up with the questions.
“People who come in for Monday night trivia games are interested in having a good laugh,” points out Martin Troy, general manager of Jack Quinn’s Irish Alehouse & Pub in Colorado Springs, Colo. Jack Quinn’s contracts with a company called “Geeks Who Drink,” who take care of the entire program.
After trying a few formats, H. Joseph Ehrmann, owner of Elixir, recruited a regular, actor and comedian Sal Calanni. “He’s the kind of personality that can light up a room,” notes Ehrmann, who believes that the entertainment factor is key to a successful trivia night.
At Jimmy’s, owner Jimmy Cirrito loves to play emcee in the bar’s weekly parody of Jeopardy. “Jimmy wears sunglasses and a sequined jacket,” says Mayorga. “We have all the bells and buzzers, like the show.” There is an elaborate game board set up connected to a computer and the bar’s sound system.