Someone once told me I knew more crap that would never make me a dime than anyone else he knew. While I took that as the compliment it was surely intended to be, it’s not exactly true. Over the years, my cluttered storehouse of random facts has gained me a panoply of Koozies, T-shirts, bottle openers, a pair of wireless headphones and even a six-pack of Helltown Forged in Hell imperial stout.
OK, technically it hasn’t made me an actual dime, but that Helltown was pretty tasty.
I came by all these riches by playing pub trivia. Pub trivia traces its roots back to the United Kingdom in the 1960s and ’70s as a way to bring in customers on weeknights when business was slower, and that’s when you can find a game here. Buzzworthy, a Pittsburgh-based pub trivia company, features a game every Wednesday night at Hitchhiker Brewing; the first Wednesday of the month at Mullett’s; the first and second Wednesdays at Kingview Mead and the first and third Wednesday of the month at Orbis Caffe. True Genius Trivia, hosted by Joe Cohen, is Wednesdays at Primanti’s.
Cohen, who also has a DJ business, picked the True Genius name to satirize the stereotype of the hyper-competitive trivia nerd who will argue almost to the point of violence about 15th century popes, Indy 500 runners-up or Andrew Jackson’s presidential cabinet.
“I played football,” he said with a smile. “I mean, I’m smart enough to get by, but I’m not a True Genius.”
Cohen’s engaging manner and easygoing personality are a good fit for an evening of low-stakes competition (first prize is a $20 Primanti’s gift card) as teams of regulars greet each other and order some beverages before the contest. This evening, Our Drinking Team Has a Trivia Problem is ready to defend last week’s championship against 13 other teams.
The first round is true or false, followed by multiple choice questions, a fill in the blanks round, a 10-minute break and then the final round is all music.
Buzzworthy follows a different format: five rounds of seven questions on a specific topic, with the point values increasing as the round progresses. In every case, though, each question generates a healthy amount of discussion.
Sarah and Brandon (last names not shared) recently moved into a place on Castle Shannon Boulevard, walking distance to Hitchhikers.
“We love the beer, and our friend is a bartender here,” Brandon said, making Wednesday night trivia a no-brainer. Brandon’s mom is their music specialist, they have sports questions locked down, but they’re not so hot on history.
Jeff Murray, Gypsy Lane, and his friend Megan McKenzie play every once in a while, and have occasionally claimed first prize, which is a free drink for everyone on the team.
Like most trivia competitions, True Genius and Buzzworthy both have a strict no-phones rule to eliminate cheating, which can sap the fun right out of the night. If you need that 20-buck gift card that bad, there are other issues going on in your life.
At the end of the night at Primanti’s, the champs didn’t manage to defend their title, but still scored a respectable 43 out of 67.
“Sometimes we know all of them,” said team member and Mt. Lebanon Magazine administrative assistant Karen Gottschall, who plays with her boyfriend, David Unico, her son, Ethan, and David’s friend, Ben Albert. “Other times, not so much, but it’s always a fun time.”
TEST YOUR RANDOM KNOWLEDGE
These questions were taken from some recent True Genius and Buzzworthy quiz nights.
Who sang the Love and Marriage theme song on the TV sitcom Married With Children?
Who was the first major league player to pitch a ball over 100 mph?
What is the name of the world’s fourth largest island, found off the coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean?
Former Tinder employee Whitney Wolfe Herd is the co-founder and CEO of this dating app where women make the first move.
What branch of the armed forces has the motto Semper Fidelis?