Jokers in Quiz Nights

This post is all about why we don’t use jokers in QuizQuizQuiz Quiz Nights. And by jokers we mean a device with which a team can get extra points (usually double points) for a round in the quiz.

Jokers are ideally suited to 10×10 style quizzes – quizzes in which there are 10 rounds of 10 questions. Or it could be 8 rounds of 8 questions or whatever. But for jokers to work fairly (if indeed jokers are not inherently unfair) each round needs to be worth the same number of points, each round needs to be of equal difficulty, and really each round needs to be on pre-specified subject area. And in our view these restrictions make for a boring and inflexible quiz.

Here are some of the reasons why jokers don’t suit our quiz night format:

1) our rounds are of different lengths so double points on one round is a greater advantage on one round than another (and our round lengths can change on the fly – in order to adapt to timings, and other factors).

2) our rounds have different formats (so we can’t even say “double points for first 5 qs in a round” as 5 questions in one round may mean 15 points and and in another round may be just 5 points).

3) it would mean having to reveal round titles beforehand, which takes away something from the element of surprise, as well as setting in stone what rounds we do, when we might want (or need) to adapt. And adaptability is a key part of the recipe for a QuizQuizQuiz quiz night.

4) there is no possibility to create a difficulty curve during the quiz: start nice and easy (read our thoughts on preventing cheating in quiz nights to understand about this), add in some real meat in the middle of the quiz, and then end with a good mix of easy and hard (depending, partly, on how drunk everyone is).

Sometimes our new quiz night clients will have only ever been to quizzes with jokers, and will feel that they are an essential part of the quiz night experience. So we ask our clients to trust us to get the format right for their event (after all, our professional expertise and experience is partly what we are being paid for). Sometimes this means trusting us that jokers (or another format variation idea) don’t work. Sometimes this means that our clients explain to us why a particular theme or format suggestion has come up – and then it is our job to turn that idea into a format, round or feature during the quiz night.

In the 2000+ company, charity, and pub quiz events we’ve run over the years we’ve dabbled with many format variations, and we continue to evolve our formats, but generally we have a very good feel for what works and what doesn’t.

So there we go – jokers just don’t fit our format. And indeed any format variations need to be carefully prepared, as an added gimmick or format tweak can have a significant impact on the success of a quiz night – and often in ways that are not necessarily obvious unless you spend your life thinking about how to make quiz nights better (which is, of course, what we do).


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