If your brain is full of knowledge about cartoon characters, superhero nicknames, TV shows, famous drinks from movies, the real names of celebrites or any other seemingly random knowledge, you'll be at home at pub trivia.
You can find pub quizzes at bars and clubs in neighborhoods around the city as well as a comic book store and other venues. The quizzes will test your knowledge of pop culture and history and give you a new way to enjoy a night out. Instead of throwing back drinks while throwing darts, dancing or watching a game, participants break up into teams and scribble answers in a variety of categories.
Prizes are typically a round of drinks, a free bar tab for your team or a gift card to the establishment.
An example category from a recent pub quiz at Legend Comics near 52nd and Leavenworth Streets: "Just One More Thing." The host named three things and quiz-takers had to write down the detective associated with those things. Answers included Columbo, Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot.
At Slowdown, one of last week's categories was "Replacements." One question was "Who replaced Abraham Lincoln as president?" (Andrew Jackson) and another was "Who replaced Bob Stinson in the band the Replacements?" (Slim Dunlap).
With a dozen regular events and counting, local trivia events are as popular as karaoke nights. Each week, several area bars play host to dozens of teams that fill up booths and tables.
Trivia questions and contests have been around for a long time, but the origins of the pub quiz format are a little murkier. It was popularized in the United Kingdom when pubgoers wanted to emulate TV quiz shows.
Later, American pubs, bars and taverns began presenting the same format. Pub quiz fans get to do something different and bar owners fill empty seats on otherwise off nights.
Around Omaha, most people are sure the phenomenon started gaining momentum when Slowdown hosted its first event.
"At that point, besides trivia at Buffalo Wild Wings, that was the first kind of pub quiz in that format," said pub quiz frequenter Jordan Delmundo.
Pub quiz was one of the very first events on the calendar for the north downtown rock club when it opened in 2007. Manager Val Nelson noticed that it was a trend in other cities, and she loved a trivia night she spent in a Portland bar.
"One big burly dude was in the middle of the room doing 40 questions without categories. It was so hard, but teams would get 35 of them right," she said.
Nelson and co-host Rob Walters changed Slowdown's quizzes to four categories of 10 questions each, but mostly kept the format the same, though they have scaled back the difficulty a bit.
Delmundo likes to do something besides drink, chat and listen to music. And before pub quizzes became more popular, his options were limited.
Over the past few years, he's drifted toward the music quiz at the Waiting Room Lounge in Benson. He likes the more focused theme. The Waiting Room always has an album art category, an audio category and a category based on a city, and the quiz always is about music.
For many pub quizzers, a good host also is key. Engaging, funny, witty hosts are often as big a draw as the quiz itself. Chris Larkin, who also does sketch and stand-up comedy, hosts the quiz at the Sydney in Benson. Comedian Kevin Grace is host for the Brazen Head Pub's trivia night.
When Legend Comics started a new trivia event in recent months, organizers were surprised at how many people showed up.
"We had to buy more chairs," said store co-owner Dave DeMarco.
When the store opened its new location with an attached coffee shop, DeMarco thought it would be fun to host music, poetry readings and possibly a pub quiz. He gave credit to other local spots that have popularized the event.
"People now say, 'Oh, pub quiz. Those are fun.' I don't know that this would be nearly as fun if the Slowdown and the Sydney had not been doing it for a few years," DeMarco said.
His favorite part?
"I like when you get a little braggadocio if you have an answer that no one else knew."
While he's enjoyed various quiz nights around town, Delmundo's staying with the Waiting Room's music quiz. His team has come in second multiple times, usually losing to Slowdown's Nelson and Roger Lewis, a local musician and a reputed encyclopedia of rock knowledge.
But Delmundo has a strategy.
"Roger's going on tour next month," Delmundo said with a laugh. "I just want to win, dude. I've won Slowdown. I've won Sydney. That's probably why I keep going back to the music quiz. I just wanna win."
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