Bright Jackets and Sparkly Bow-Ties

What should a quiz master wear?

Of  the hundreds (and thousands) of clients for whom we have run quizzes over the years, the vast majority, say 99%, are entirely happy that we will dress appropriately for the event. Sometimes they don’t even tell us that the event is Black-Tie (luckily, we always ask, so we can dress suitably).

However, some people are desperate for us to wear bright jackets and sparkly bow-ties (but the majority would be desperate for us not to!). Events companies seem keen for us to wear black, when we’re meant to be in the foreground and not fading into the background. We’ve even had a client worried that the quiz master would be wearing clown shoes (I think she might have been confusing a quiz master for a clown – generally, but not always, they are different).

In my view there are only two rules, one obvious, one less so, but both about not making an issue out of clothing:

1. Dress at the same level of formality as the audience (and find out in advance, if necessary, what that will be). Let your quiz running impress the audience, and don’t let your attire (whether too formal, or too casual) distract from that.

A good example of this was Paul Daniels and Debbie McGee running a quiz with us the other day. It was Hallowe’en fancy dress, and they played along spectacularly.

2. If it is hot, and/or you are the sort of person who sweats a lot, then wear an extra layer under your shirt to absorb sweat, thereby avoiding unsightly patches emerging during the quiz which could distract the quiz participants!

What do you think a quiz master should wear? Is a quiz not a quiz if the quiz master isn’t dressed ostentatiously?

4 replies
  1. Dave Clark "Londinius"
    Dave Clark "Londinius" says:

    Well I’m sure its different for corporate events. But for the majority of quizzes I play in, I don’t think people give a tuppenny d*mn about the way that the question master is dressed. I’ll be honest , it doesn’t feature on the informal criteria I use for judging a question master . Amongst these are : –
    1) Does the QM understand the fine art of getting the hell on with it ?
    2) If I want to see a comedian, then I’ll pay my money and see a professional. In my experience many ‘funny’ question masters are about as funny as a fart in a lift, and get in the way of the quiz.
    3) Likewise, and linked to the above two, is the QM only there because he likes the sound of his own voice ?
    4) The QM has got to have a certain level of knowledge. Its no good having someone who doesn’t know when he’s got a dreadfully wrong answer to one of his questions.
    5) The QM needs to understand that the contest, as such, is between the teams and the contestant, not between him and the teams. A QM who is into scoring points off teams by including impossible questions that nobody is likely to answer is a huge turn off.
    6) Likewise a QM needs to realise that there’s more to a quiz than just his or her own interests.

    I’m sure there’s others, but that’s a good start. And if a QM can avoid getting those things wrong, then he or she can turn up dressed as Ronald McDonald for all I care.

  2. QuizMistress
    QuizMistress says:

    My thoughts exactly (apart from the Ronald McDonald bit). I think a lot of QuizMasters forget that they are there to entertain. This is especially important at a corporate event, where few of the participants have actually chosen to be at a quiz – it’s almost always been organised for them by a committee, or an internal events department – and so it’s vital that it’s light-hearted fun, and not a tour of my psyche, a display of my cleverness, or (cardinal sin) a demonstration of their ignorance. I firmly believe that if any team in the quiz gets below 50%, that is /my/ fault, not theirs: it means I’ve chosen the wrong questions.

    In a corporate quiz. we do have to be careful with our dress, though. Clients often turn up straight from work, and jeans and trainers on the QM would look out of place. My general rule is to try to look as though I work with them, or have been invited to the quiz as a guest. When I ran pub quizzes, this was much less of a concern, but when a client is paying for a professional service, they expect a professional attitude and appearance.

    • admin
      admin says:

      I like that – it’s a good rule of thumb for magicians. If the event is White Tie, does the magician go back to the beginning and come in beach clothes 🙂

      I suppose for magicians it is far more acceptable (often expected) to have a “persona”, and dress accordingly, than for quiz masters – and on that topic I agree very strongly with Londinius: the quiz master is there to deliver the quiz, and if he does so with a little humour and good character so be it and all well and good, but that “character” should never dominate the quiz., and should only ever emerge because of and through the delivery of the quiz itself. If the attempted humour etc. dominates the quiz then the job is being done incorrectly.


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