Who becomes a professional quiz master?
If you run a quiz night, and get paid for it you are a professional quiz master. As Aleksandr Orlov would say: “Simples”.
But there is a difference between running an occasional quiz night and getting a bit of pocket money for it, and it actually being your main, or one of your main jobs. So I’m going to attempt to look at pub quiz masters, amateur and professional, according to the frequency (and type) of quiz nights that they run.
Mr. Church Hall / PTA / Charity Quiz Man Once or Twice a year
This quiz master is a very popular man in his local community. He will either be a bit of a character or will be famous for getting to the second round of 15-to-1 in 1994, not to mention the fact that he applied for Mastermind (and definitely not to mention that he was once the Weakest Link). He won’t be paid to run the church/PTA/charity quiz night, but he does an excellent job, and the quiz goes down well, and everybody says “We should do this more often” (but they don’t do it more often because it is a lot of effort to organise).
Mr. Landlord Pub Quiz Master
A pub landlord who runs his own quiz is almost always an excellent pub quiz master. He knows the locals and the regulars, and quite probably sets many of the questions himself. He is far more likely to be found hosting the quiz in a rural pub rather than an urban one – that’s just the way it is. Of course he does get paid – because he is the landlord, and the quiz night, all being well, results in a boost in takings that comfortably exceeds the time, cost and effort of putting the quiz together.
Mr. Bemused Desultory Member of Bar Staff
This is the awkward, often slightly inarticulate, cousin of the Landlord run quiz, and best avoided by punters and pubs alike. That’s not to say that a member of the bar staff can’t run a good quiz (and when they do it well they can elevate the quiz at least to Mr. Landlord Pub Quiz Master territory) but that when the wrong person ends up doing it then the worst kind of quiz experience is often the outcome, frustrating to all concerned.
Mr. Member of Last Week’s Winning Team
Plenty of pubs operate a “Win one week, set the next” system. This can result in wildly varying quality of questions and quiz master skills, and almost always results in one or two questions of monstrous difficulty on the quiz master’s pet subject. However, these quizzes often have the greatest variety, and in the right pub quiz environment can result in outstandingly good pub quizzes. No payment, but kudos.
Mr. Pub Quiz Master Once a Week
Not the landlord, but a regular at the pub who drew the short straw many a year ago, and now runs the pub quiz night once a week (apart from August and December when he takes one week off). Payment: multiple pints of beer.
Mr. Professional Couple of Nights a Week But Someone Else Writes the Questions
This quizmaster will work 2-3 nights a week, running a quiz provided by a company who does all the business side of things with the pub. Usually big quiz enthusiasts or people who like performing or some combination of the two. This is where we move from amateur to professional as payment now is half-decent and may even include a cut of the entry fees into the quiz.
Mr. Professional Several Times a Week and Writes His Own Questions
This is his actual job. Yes, his actual job. Writing quiz questions. Hosting quiz nights. What a job! He is, by definition, very good at both writing and hosting quizzes. If he wasn’t, he wouldn’t be busy enough and would need another job. He might well have another job anyway (but doesn’t need it) because he is a very talented man. Seek out such quizmasters and their quizzers. As the Michelin guide might say: 3 stars, worth a specific trip to visit. We recommend the Dale Collins Fun Quiz, which is on several times a week (six at the last count) in Oxfordshire and surrounds.
I’ve decided to stop here, and not comment on the world of the company quiz night that is our main world. It is a bit different, and we’ll talk about running corporate quiz nights and compared to a more traditional pub quiz night in a future post. We’ll also do some interviews with the QuizQuizQuiz QuizMasters in coming weeks and months so you can get to know a little bit more about the people behind this blog.
[A quick word on spelling. We always used to spell QuizMaster without a space and with a capital Q and M when referring to one of the professional QuizQuizQuiz QuizMasters, but we forgot about it, and actually once upon a time google wasn’t quite so clever at distinguishing terms and it seemed to help our search positions to spell it quiz master, with a space. So – nowadays our spelling of this all important word (or words) is a bit haphazard!]