Saturday, February 4, 2012

Trivia Nights


“What mighty contests rise from trivial things.

-          Alexander Pope, Rape of the Lock

Earlier in the week Byters Arthur and Kerrie took me to task for getting the first day of Spring wrong and for not knowing that the date of Wattle Day had been changed.  Pleaded in mitigation, but not as a defence, is that I knew it was on the first day of Spring and I remembered from my younger days that it was on 1 August, but I hadn’t realised that it had been officially shifted to the first day of Spring, 1 September.

Kerrie and Arthur, who are not a couple by the way, each having separate spouses and families, have been friends of mine for many many years.  At various times we have all been members of the same trivia teams, although the friendships began long before.  Arthur’s wife Glenis has also been an active member of the trivia teams.

Our first team membership began about 15 years ago.  The trivia nights were held at a local club and a local pub and were organised and hosted by Graham, a professional trivia organiser who has also become a friend.  (Anyone wanting to organise a trivia night or to attend some in the Inner West of Sydney can visit Graham on Twitter and Facebook at Mr Trivia Sydney).


As with any team, we had both our regulars and our floaters who attended from time to time.

During a trivia game Graham posts the team names on a display board after the first round and updates the scores as the rounds progress. The names and scores are also read out by Graham.

In the early days we changed our name each time we played.

For a while we named ourselves after lyrics from Time Warp from the Rocky Horror Show, each night progressing to the next phrase.  “It's astounding” was followed by “Time is fleeting”, then “Madness takes its toll”.  Succeeding names were “But listen closely”, “Not for very much longer” and “I've got to keep control”, and so on.

We eventually became bored with Time Warp and started to name our team after lines and punchlines from rude jokes, including:
Why do you ask, Two Dogs?
Particularly nasty weather.
Welcome to Barbados, have a nice day.
It’s not a clock.
Zachary’s Disease.

I should mention at this point that Kerrie was not in favour of such antics.

Kerrie played one night per week whilst some of us played a couple of nights per week at different venues.   On trivia nights attended by Kerrie we were a bit more decorous, although I don’t recall what names we used on those nights.

Most teams had one standardised name that they used week after week – Full Nelson and Half Nelson, depending on how many members turned up: BJ and the Bear, NFI, Fig Jam.  A few years ago Graham told me that he was once hosting a one off trivia night and a team of little old ladies named their team Fig Jam.  He asked why they had selected that name and they said that they had seen others use it and it had pleasant connotations, home made jam made from figs.  He then explained that it stood for Fuck, I’m Good! Just Ask Me.

After a while we either ran out of well known crude jokes or became bored again, I don’t recall which, so we started to see how much we could get by Graham.   We then started using names based on the word “Far”, the true effect being how the words sounded when read out when scores were announced:
Far Queue
Far Cough
Far Kmee
Far Kinell

After the above names were used we stayed with Far Queue for a few weeks and then we standardised to 4Q.  We even had baseball caps made with 4Q embroidered on them, black caps with a gold 4Q.

Kerrie was outvoted and kept playing, although she never liked the name.

When one of our regulars, Corvey, moved to Queensland, we had a send off for him attended by all past and present team members.  We had so many attend to say goodbye that we had to split into two teams:  4Q and 4Q2.  We came first and second that night.

For various reasons we stopped playing but the reunited a few years later.

Whilst Kerrie was overseas we standardised our team’s new name to Pizzle.  There was even a slogan: “Pizzle – We Sizzle!”, although if we bombed Graham usually said “Pizzle fizzled.”  We again had embroidered baseball caps made and we presented Kerrie with hers upon her return.  She said that she liked the name but was less impressed when she was told that pizzle meant a bull’s penis.  For those who doubt that meaning, click on:

Then we drifted apart again but recently we reunited after bumping into Graham at a trivia night.  We now play once per week, on Wednesday nights.  Our team is a mix of young and old, past and new faces. My kids and their friends also play, a handy element for answering questions on young people’s music, movies, TV and celebrity current events. 

We also now have a new team name which reflects our return: Lazarus.

One final note.

Graham’s trivia nights are structured in such a way as to reduce the probability of the same teams winning week after week.  That way smaller teams also stand a greater chance against teams with larger numbers of members.

There are 2 rounds, then a final question, a 4 part multiple choice that is so obscure and difficult that it is virtually a guess.  Each team can bet as many points as it wishes from the points already accumulated.  If the final answer is correct, double the number of points wagered is added to the final score; if the answer is wrong, the wagered points are deducted.

We always bet everything we have on the principle of “No guts, no glory.”

That also accounts for us usually ending up with zero points, although we usually do well in the first two rounds.

Last Wednesday we reversed that norm.

Only Kerrie and I were able to attend.  We performed poorly in the first two rounds, as shown in the photo below (click on the pic to enlarge) but we were the only team to get the final question right, thereby winning overall.

The question:  Between 1978 and 2003 the awards for which internal competition were named after the event sponsor, Embassy cigarettes?  Was it:

  1. Equestrian;
  2. Badminton;
  3. Darts;
  4. Snooker?
Most of the teams went for snooker.  We thought equestrian and badminton unlikely and that cigarette sponsorship would have been most effective for smoke filled pubs.  We were right.

As Graham said, Lazarus rose from the dead to win the event.


  1. Hi there, I'm trying to get in touch with Graham for a Trivia Night, if you could please help me out. I've been online for a while and cannot seem to find any contact details.

    Many thanks,

  2. Hey Gaby

    Try the following:

    Tel: (02) 9797 0759

    Mr Trivia
    PO Box 405
    Summer Hill NSW 2130

    MrTriviaSydney on Twitter and Facebook




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