Chalk it up to the syndicated overflow of shows like The Big Bang Theory or the around-the-clock entertainment info streaming into everyone’s iPhone, but the days of shaming the bar stool-perched know-it-all, typified by the sexually frustrated mailman Clifford Clavin on Cheers, are over. Let’s just say the geeks are now free to hold forth (at least in an organized setting). Pub trivia (also known as pub quiz), which the Irish and UK drinking scene perfected, is now a bona fide American bar staple. Just as karaoke invites amateurs to belt out Heart’s “Barracuda” before a jury of adoring, tipsy peers, trivia nights offer a similar nook of non-judgment, and a safe way for the nerds to get in on the nightlife.
In San Antonio, guys and gals can really get their geek on, thanks to the efforts of Miguel Sánchez, an ex-banker turned trivia jockey with the Memphis-based Challenge Entertainment Trivia, and Geeks Who Drink, another national outfit. Together the companies have set up enough regular trivia happenings to fill nearly every night of the week.
It’s a no-brainer for bars looking to bring in people on slow- or even off-nights. Participating SA standards like the Broadway 5050 (Monday night, 5050 Broadway), and tapster treasures like Freetail Brewing Company (also Monday, 4035 N Loop 1604 W), put down prize cards and pay out a flat rate for trivia jockeys to come in and run the show. The patrons take care of the rest, drinking to their success or consoling themselves after losses with sliders and Buffalo wings.
On a Sunday night at Fox and Hound (12651 Vance Jackson, Ste. 110) you might get 20-22 teams of trivia contestants all angling to win pints for the table by trying to agree upon which Watergate criminal got his own radio talk show in the ’90s (spoiler, it was G. Gordon Liddy) and coming up with names of Pound Puppies. On a Monday, pub people who might not be so hip to the sports bar structure can name Journey songs and Ben Affleck movies at Southtown 101 (101 Pereida).
It’s typical of most trivia setups that all the dork fun starts around 7 or 8 p.m. and ends right around the time someone might decide to turn off The Tonight Show. And the way Sánchez has set it up, his SA trivia nights cater to a responsible, professional clientele. Sánchez understands that people coming to these off-night events are usually professionals in their early 20s to late 30s, or else they’re retired folks.
What Sánchez offers, with his various trivia nights, is a kind of standardized diversion. The feel of each trivia scene is in tune with the vibe of the bar, and aside from the decidedly bubbly tone of each trivia joke, there is no differentia. The same questions one might get at the Hangar (Wednesday night, 8203 Broadway) are the same questions, same number of rounds, as some chick and her off-the-clock friends are getting that same night in Atlanta. Geeks Who Drink claim not to repeat the same questions for two years.
What most trivia nights are missing, beyond spontaneity, is sleaze. If you’ve had your fill of good, clean fun at other local trivia nights, just wait until later in the week to throw down some answers that would make your mom blush.
At the Lion & Rose (5148 Broadway), on a Thursday night around 10:30 p.m., the riddles become racy and centered around sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll, with refreshingly raunchy questions like: What breed of sheep shares its name with a mode of intercourse? And you have to admire what Larry “The Dom” Weber, the Trivia host of Cunning Linguist Productions, seems to be up to: trying to bring the sexy back to a game that never had it in the first place.
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