Find the inner nerd with Geeks Who Drink
March 13, 2012
Geeks Who Drink is slowly making its way around the country.
The pub-quiz that started in Colorado and has spread to 20 states including Arizona, California, Montana, Idaho, Kansas, Texas, Virginia, Washington and New York.
It’s even invaded Washington, D.C., and is making inroads around Utah and Salt Lake City, including a startup contest at the Sidecar in Park City on Wednesday night.
Geeks Who Drink, the brainchild of John Dicker and Joel Peach, was modeled after pub quizzes in Europe and covers topics that deal with pop culture, music and wordplay.
The quiz has been around for five years said Jesse Brake, one of the quizmasters who writes up the questions for each contest.
"We differentiate ourselves from other pub quizzes by holding eight rounds of trivia," he said during an interview with The Park Record. "We actually hate the word trivia because that’s the stuff you do with the plastic pie pieces with your grandparents, but it is the easiest way to describe what we do to someone."
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A typical session features two audio rounds. One is similar to "Name that Tune" and the other is a random knowledge round that is made up of sound bytes from film or TV.
"We also have a visual round we pass around to players who are waiting for their turn for the quiz," said Brake, who lives in Utah. "The main thing is we will never do a round that is so general like ‘NFL’ or ‘Ska Music,’ but we may do a round called ‘The Great Felons of the NFL,’ where we’re only talking about players that have been severely in trouble with the law. I also wrote a round called ‘Dungeons and Discourses’ and the answers explain philosophies by using scenarios from Dungeons and Dragons.
"So, you can see the categories are more sardonic, but we always try to have fun with it."
The goal behind Geeks Who Drink was to bring customers to a bar and keep them there for a few hours and bring them back week after week.
"We wanted to do an event where people could feel good and feel like they are contributing not only socially, but intellectually," Brake explained. "It’s not like one of those crappy DJ-run trivia games where everyone has to stick around all night. We get in, do our two hours and leave, so everyone can get up and go to work the next day."
Originally the Park City sessions were to be held at the Yarrow, but the owners decided to take the bar entertainment in a different direction, Brake said.
"Luckily Layne Edwards at the Sidecar has been very receptive to the ‘Geeks Who Drink’ format and has seen how much success we’ve had in the Salt Lake Valley at pubs like Piper Down and Lumpy’s," Brake explained. "We’ve had a lot of teams participating in Salt Lake that are from Park City, so it only made sense to us to find a venue that was just as excited to have ‘Geeks Who Drink’ there to capitalize on the amount of people who are already driving 30 to 40 minutes to play."
The questions are generated from a pool of writers around the country.
"I, myself, am part of a team of contributing writers who are under our main editor-in-chief Christopher Short," Brake said. "Christopher is a seven-time ‘Jeopardy’ champion who won just under $100,000."
All the writers have their own interests when it comes to trivia.
"Some of them have degrees in their fields of expertise, while others are professional writers," Brake said. "We all are inspired in different ways and everyone has their own muses. So all of us are on top of our game. We bounce ideas off of each other and write rounds accordingly."
Each week a new batch of questions will be presented to the contestants.
"We ask 64 questions each night and they will not be repeated throughout the entire week and for at least a couple of years thereafter," Brake said. "The same quiz that you’re playing at Park City on Wednesday night is the same quiz that people are playing in Colorado or Syracuse that night, and at the end of the week, we do something we call ‘The Geek in Review’ on our website (http://www.geekswhodrink.com ) where cities can compare their stats.
After the questions have been asked, the writers put them into an archive.
"Sometimes we’ll use some of those questions when we start up a new market, to give an example of what we’re all about, and sometimes we’ll sell them to another pub quiz, but we don’t do that very often,’ Brake said.
One of Brake’s favorites categories is called the ‘before-and-after’ round where contestants are given two descriptions that will lead to a compound answer.
"For example, we’ll ask a contestant what do you get when ‘The most famous writer who came out of Woody Creek, Colorado, decides to purchase a gun commonly known as a Chicago Typewriter?’ and the answer would be ‘Hunter S. Thompson Sub Machine Gun,’" Brake said.
Although the quizmasters try to maintain a limited margin of error, mistakes do happen.
When that happens, people are encouraged to visit the website and click on the "Errorgenous Zone" section.
"People can let us know if we got a question or something wrong or they can submit ideas," Brake said. "People also tell us whether or not they liked a round and it’s good to get a lot of feedback.
"As a quizmaster and writer, the best part of the job is to see your question implemented into the quiz and seeing people enjoying and responding to it," he said. "Most of us live out our Johnny Carson fantasies through our questions and like to believe we’re entertainers in our own right, when all we really do is corral drunks most of the night."
In addition to the regular pub-quiz sessions, Geeks Who Drink also offers a "Quiz for a Cause" option.
"Any charity who is willing to host one of our events can do it free of charge," Brake said. "We’ll have it at a bar and that night ask for a suggested donation and try to raise money for the chosen charity.
"It’s a good way to get our karma realigned, because most of us are bad people during the week, and it’s also a way to get new people to see what pub quizzes are all about."
The Geeks Who Drink Pub Quiz is held each Wednesday at the Sidecar, 333 Main St., second floor, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Participants answer trivia about music, movies, history and other pop culture categories for prizes. For more information, visit http://www.geekswhodrink.com.