Quiz Nights around the World: New York City

Do other countries have pub quizzes? Well, yes, but not necessarily as we know them in the UK.

In January this year, I attended an event run by Noah Tarnow of The Big Quiz Thing (@bigquizthing on twitter) who, broadly speaking, is to  New York and Boston (and that general area) what QuizQuizQuiz is to London and the UK.

I met up with Noah the night before the quiz (once I had got enough information from my friend who was taking me to the quiz night to work out who was running it and how to track him down). We compared notes about the “pub quiz circuit” in our respective countries, and the US market is massively different. For a start you’ll need to call a pub quiz a trivia night to avoid suspicion that it will be like a quiz in the classroom at school. Amusingly, we both also had a shared fondness of the excellent quiz question: “Which country would you come to if you travelled due East from New York City?” *

The quiz itself was very much an event…not something that happens every week like a British pub quiz (although of course there are weekly pub quizzes in NYC, and occasional big show quizzes in the UK). Entry was £10 per person, and the bar was somewhat trendier than I’m entirely comfortable in. My team ended up being called Quizteama Aguilera, which is one of the most painfully common quiz team names over here, but my team in New York had never heard it before in all the quizzes they had been to, and thought it was funny (which it is, I suppose).

The set-up was impressive: big screen, DJ type person to play the music and visual questions, and a sparkly jacket for quiz master Noah.

There were 4 rounds if I remember correctly (possibly 5), of varying formats: straight questions (albeit very good ones), an “images from around New York” round, a speed round, and a stunningly witty  music round. You had to write down the song titles, and all the odd numbered answers were questions (e.g. “Should I Stay or Should I Go?”) and all the even numbered answers were possible answers to those questions (e.g. “Stay Another Day”). There were quite a few gimmicks which went down very well with the crowd (jingles to announce “the three part answer” etc.)

There was a buzzer finale for the top three teams (not including my team, alas, as the topic was British Royalty).

All in all, a lot of similarities to a British pub quiz, probably closer to one of the full multimedia extravaganzas that we run for some of our corporate clients than a normal pub quiz, and an exceptionally high standard of quizzing from the teams. I can absolutely see how a low-key pub quiz might not take-off in the US, and that the gameshow style of The Big Quiz Thing is bang on for that market.

Next edition of Quiz Nights around the World will tell the tale of a pub quiz that I attended in Cebu City in the Philippines in May.

And if you have any tales of pub quizzes outside of the UK, please get in touch.

*Answer to the question: Portugal


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