Wednesday, September 22, 2010

the art of pub trivia

One day I'm going to make like a happiness terrorist and surprise you by dropping a bomb of double rainbows and baby sloths on this blog. But for now, we're going to stick to our regularly scheduled slapdash programming, make like a slightly more senile Andy Rooney and just complain. And yes, I definitely mean slightly more senile because I'm about to complain about something that, by definition, should always be fun -- pub trivia. Really, complaining about an activity that combines two of the most awesome activities around (drinking and knowing sh*t) is like complaining about the undeniable deliciousness of combinations like peanut butter and chocolate, peanut butter and jelly, peanut butter and bananas, or peanut butter and more peanut butter (the most delicious combination of them all). So lest you have a peanut allergy or, in the case of pub trivia, some sort of prohibitionist vendetta against knowledge, you probably should just shut the fudge (and peanut butter) up.

And I would, but...this experience I had last night was extreme. See, just like anything, there are differing degrees of awesome. Jif is better than Peter Pan, Skippy is better than Jif, etc. The same goes for trivia. There are good ones, not so good ones and then there's the occasional rotten one -- the hippie organic Whole Foods peanut butter of trivias that no matter how hard you stir will never get a consistency better than, "Wait, I don't think this is supposed to be chunky." Indeed, just like a peanut-based condiment, there are ingredients that are necessary to making an awesome pub trivia night: a decent host, interesting questions and convenient beer availability.

Unfortunately, however, unlike Skippy (it's not their fault partially hydrogenated vegetable oil is delicious), the pub trivia at Biergarten Haus out on H Street failed miserably in all three. It's basically the equivalent of stale crushed up Planters® and water. It lacks everything good.

Category 1: A decent host.

I'm not sure if the host was drunk (or maybe not drunk enough), but the woman in charge of reading the questions was a mess on the mic. She slurred through her words, had no air of humor about her and, really, just seemed to have no idea what was going on half the time. Even when reading the answers to the questions (which she apparently "researched" in the first place, but we'll get to that next), she couldn't quite get all the information out. For example, when reading the answer to this question, "What are the six flags that have flown over Texas?" she said, "France, Spain, U.S., the Texas State flag, Mexico and, um, what is this? Something called the C...S..." Finally, to end this self-inflicted retardation, the audience informed her that CSA stood for the Confederate States of America. DUH. Really, I'll let the slurred speech slide, but not knowing the answer to one of the questions you researched? That's an unforgivable PTT -- Pub Trivia Transgression.

Category 2: An interesting set of questions.

This is probably the most important category. If you don't ask an interesting, fun set of questions that a reasonably smart person has at least a chance of getting correct, then you should probably think about not being a pub trivia emcee. Or, at the very least, learn how to Google more efficiently because calling a category "Sports" then asking 10 questions about baseball and football is a misnomer. You should've just called the category "Baseball and Football." For the record, there are other sport games with information on the Web, and sometimes even womenfolk are athletes too. Don't be afraid to think of sports other than the ones preferred by most frat houses. Besides basebat and footgame, there's talso ennis, soccer, basketball, hockey, swimming, skeet shooting, thumb wrestling, and many more to choose from. And really, had it not been for the other half of my trivia team, "Justin Bieber's Descending Testicles," who at least had the football category on lock, I would've put the pen down and walked out. Which is exactly what about five or so of the original 15 or so teams did. It was THAT BAD.

And of course it didn't improve. The next category was "Anatomy" where this question was slurred: "Whaakinda bone is a patella?" The answer, apparently, is not "knee cap," but a "sesamoid," the scientific name for the classification of the patella, which indeed is the knee cap. Seriously, if you're going to ask a question like that (because anyone who's not actively in medical school will definitely find that interesting), at least word it correctly: "What anatomical bone category does the patella fall under?" In that case, I may not know it, but at least I would have understood what question was being asked. More appropriately, don't ask a question so specific that it begs for the lead-in, "Thiiiis prolly something only a doctor would know."

Category 3: Beer availability.

The service at Biergarten Haus was almost as bad as the trivia. Of course, that may be because there was only one person working the entire upstairs (including waiting tables, busing empty plates and glasses, drawing brews, and handling the cash). If I didn't see the kitchen staff at one point, I'd think she was probably cooking the food, as well, which was the only high point of the night. They have a $6 bratwurst and fries special on trivia nights. Add peanut butter as a dip and we'd be in heaven. Maybe.

Anyway, long story less long, DO NOT go to Biergarten Haus for pub trivia night. It's HORRIBLE -- a negative bazillion on the awesome scale. I don't know what the first place prize was (Justin Bieber's Descending Testicles inexplicably came in third after all the walk-outs) because the woman in charge of this terrible trivia never bothered to mention it, but I'm certain nothing would be worth it to waste another three hours there. Biergarten Haus made me sad. So sad, in fact, that the only thing that can alleviate this sorrow from my soul is to douse it in an economy-sized jar of peanut butter. Hooray! My dumb metaphor made it all the way to the end! Well, almost. It would've had I not just dipped my patellas in Skippy...


Reba said...

Wow, I can't believe I have a related rant.

I was at a pub quiz that had a "Sex in the City" category this past Monday night. No, not the movies (possibly more timely?) but matching quotes from the series to which "gal" said it. Lame. I had assumed it was an Arlington thing, but now I wonder...

Jeff said...

Thanks, now I'm craving a peanut butter and butter sandwich!

FoggyDew said...

How about peanut butter and chocolate with peanut butter? That's almost as good as spam egg spam spam bacon and spam, or spam sausage spam spam bacon spam tomato and spam. Point of interest: I once did a trivia night with a friend who is a doctor. We were Team Speculum. We slid right in there for first place.

Anonymous said...

Like much about H street, there's a lot more promise than is ever actually delivered. I like drinking large amounts of beer outside as much (probably more than) the next guy, but the biergarten haus is a shitshow of ridiculousness.

Good to know the trivia there sucks so I can avoid it.

-Anonymous Brian

Artist58 said...

Hi - I just starting reading your blog and it is hilarious and you're a great writer. This doesn't have anything to do with the current post but reading back I noticed you talk a lot about "The Room", which I also found so godawful it was hilarious. It has a new contender for worst movie though, A sci-fi horror movie called "Birdemic" The link to the trailer is


Anonymous said...

I played trivia at a bar once in a college town that was famous for their thirsty Thursdays. I was with a group who didn´t drink. So why did we go? No idea. But, we reasoned that we would win because we were the only not drunk people in the room. We lost. By a lot. I don't think we even placed.

Oh yeh and the drunks most obnoxious table won.


Marissa said...


Oh, hell no. Sadly, I probably would've been OK at that category, but I understand your ire. As far as decent P-triv places, there's Stoney's in Logan Circle, Wonderland in Columbia Heights and Looking Glass Lounge in Petworth. I hear Tonic is all right too.


Pb (not lead) and butter is something I've never tried. However, I highly recommend adding a schmeer of cream cheese to the standard Pb and J.

Anon Bri--

The food also blew. It was a Johnsonville brat and some fries. The $6 price tag was worth it, but barely...


Surely, I will add Birdemic to my bucket list. Thanks!


I wouldn't feel too bad about the loss. Although I think being able to combine drinking and trivia is an awesome idea, there's something wrong if you can win without even being coherent...

Daniel said...

Harp and Fiddle in Bethesda on Monday nights. I know it's in the 'burbs, but it's actually pretty decent. The questions aren't stupid-easy, but they aren't dickishly hard either.