Drinking and Thinking: Why Pub Trivia is Perfect for College Students

The first time I ever heard of pub trivia was when I was studying abroad in Edinburgh, Scotland. It was one of the popular local activities suggested by the program director. She suggested trivia because she was trying to give American students ideas of ways in which we could go out and mingle with Scottish students that didn’t involve getting hammered and sloppily grinding in a dark club basement. A group of us decided to hop on the bus downtown that night and give it a try. We ended up having a lot of fun and winning a fair amount of cash to split between us.

Pub trivia, which is more commonly referred to as pub quiz in the United Kingdom, where it was originally developed, is exactly what it sounds like. On particular nights of the week, pubs host a game of competitive team trivia in which anyone can participate for prizes and glory. Upon returning to the United States, I figured out that pub trivia exists here as well and picked it up again with friends from home. If a couple hours of eating, drinking and casual intellectual stimulation with a group of friends sounds like a merry time to you, then here is some advice I’ve come up with for those looking to get into pub trivia.

The Team

In order to get in on some pub trivia action, you’ll need to construct a kickass team. Your scholarly squad can consist of friends, family or a mix of both. Whatever teeters your totter. Above all, it is crucial to try and make sure that your chosen party is composed of individuals that are all passionately nerdy about different things.

The ideal team would include at least one knowledgeable person for each of the following common categories: geography, history, sports, pop culture, literature and movies and music. In addition to possessing a collective knowledge about all of these categories, the ideal trivia team would also have members who fall into different age groups.

Having people from different generations offers invaluable insight, especially when it comes to questions about pop culture and music. You won’t understand the reference made to that toothpaste commercial from the 70s, but your friend’s mom might.

Know Yourselves

In reality, your brainy bunch probably won’t have that perfect ratio. The people you hang with tend to have similar interests. So it goes. As a result, it’s far more likely that you will have a group with distinguishable strengths and weaknesses. In my team’s case, the gaping hole in our intellectual fortress happens to be the sports category.

None of us has ever played sports seriously or has any substantial interest in them. Due to the frequent and impressive 4+ hours long ESPN binges my little brother goes on during the weekends, I’ve seriously considered trying to convince him to go to pub trivia with me. Poor track record with sports questions aside, our team always been hot as hell where geography, history, movies and music are concerned.

Don’t Be the Body

Finally, no matter what combination of people you have, there will always be the body that simply exists, taking up air and space. That one person who comes along to eat, drink, socialize and essentially do everything but actually contribute to the trivia effort. Admittedly, I’ve been that person on more than one occasion.

If I don’t know jack about the subject, I’m content sit back and rapidly shovel more artichoke dip into my face while everyone else handles the situation. Some nights are really difficult and I genuinely don’t know the answer to anything, other nights I just mentally check out early and don’t make an effort to check back in at any point.

Choosing a Name

Once you’ve formulated a fierce posse that’s equal parts foxy and intimidating, the time has come to pick out a team name. I can’t stress how important this step is. Your moniker will play an essential role in crafting the vibe that your team gives off to the competition. Because the atmosphere is either a pub or some kind of casual restaurant that serves alcohol, including references to beer, wine, or booze in one’s team name is classic. Other acceptable themes include sexual references, nods to pop culture or food. If you can take one or more of these elements and create a play on words with them, you’re golden.

Because examples are an important learning tool, here are a few pub trivia team names that have been thoughtfully handcrafted by yours truly: Beer Pressure, The Winey Bitches, Hot n’ Bothered, and Piñata Face. Two of my personal favorites are Vladimir Poutine and Bloodbath and Beyond.

If you and your knowledge gang are having a hard time coming up with a team name, there are plenty of free pub trivia team name generators on the internet that you can use, like teamnames.net. With this particular site, you can even insert specific words that you want to appear in your team name if you’re really attached to a certain aesthetic.

Find Your Haunt

Finally, once you’ve selected your team and the perfect name, you’ll have to find a venue to flaunt your cleverness. Chances are there’s one, if not multiple, bars in your town that host trivia.

When choosing a bar, I recommend researching the specific type of trivia that you’re going to before you go go. Bars or trivia groups may post the categories online beforehand, allowing you some time to research. The pub trivia that my friends and I go to in particular, Trivia Mafia, puts an internet only question on their website each week. That said, I feel that pub trivia is easily one of the cheapest and easiest ways to get out with friends on a weeknight, especially as a college student.

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