Monday, May 30, 2011

The Legacy of Tuesday Trivia

The first time we met our dear friends Chris and Jess (formerly in Sydney), we asked them to join us at The Fringe Bar in Paddington for Tuesday trivia. We hadn't been in Australia long enough to know that you need bookings for almost everything so there wasn't a table for us that night, but our blind couple date was a success and we decided to meet up on subsequent Tuesdays at the Fringe Bar (as long as someone made the booking).
Steph's last trivia night at The Fringe Bar

We assembled a crackerjack starting line up consisting of Thor, Jennie, Steph, Lee, Tim and eventually Mike and Laura in addition to ourselves. We loyally attended trivia night at the Fringe every Tuesday for three years despite a love/hate relationship with the current host, mediocre food and appalling customer service. It became one of the most pleasant and reliable parts of the work week: an opportunity to catch up with friends while having a drink and nerding out.

Though Jennie has an incredible ear for music and Tim's general knowledge and familiarity with all things Australia served our team well, our MVPs couldn't always deliver a win. Fortunately, the Fringe often awards prizes to those coming in second, third, fourth, seventh, etc. so we usually concluded the night with a bar voucher.

The first host we came to know at the trivia was a handsome, easy going bloke called Murray. Now that I'm familiar with a couple of different trivia hosting styles, I realize that Murray's strength was his attitude: 'enjoy the game, but don't take it seriously; though I'm holding the answers, I understand that I'm not God.' We enjoyed Murray and like many other teams, named our team the not-so-subtle "when's Murray back?" and "we want Murray back" when he was replaced by a very small guy and eventually the current host, DJ Mike Blades.

For those who haven't encountered DJ Mike Blades, I must refer you to Steve Carrell's character on the American Office, Michael Scott. My feelings toward him vacillated from pity to mild loathing, sometimes in the same night. We got creeped out when he started massaging our friend Jess' bare shoulders without provocation, but would then later feel sorry for him when he revealed, 'it's my birthday tonight and I'm here,' or told a sad anecdote about his ripped jean shorts.

Blades called us trivia participants "party people" and enjoyed the power trip that the role of host afforded him. He would whisper answers to some teams (ours included) and imagined that his mildly sexist jokes were charming. For better or worse, though, we were committed to The Fringe and Blades for our Tuesday night meal and entertainment. It was there that we discussed and celebrated Thor and Jennie's engagement, Mike and Laura's engagement, retold stories about our travels, introduced new friends, entertained visiting families and guests and excitedly talked about our friends' post-Sydney plans before they moved away.

Well, we thought we were in it for the long haul until one day, without warning, we showed up at The Fringe Bar to learn that DJ Mike Blades had been replaced. New management, new food and drinks menu, new host, new format, it was almost too much to bear. We had long discussed trying out other trivia nights and this change at the Fringe presented the perfect opportunity. What did we have to lose?

Tim won all the coins in the jar!
We carefully researched and then ventured out to several trivia nights in Surry Hills. We quickly realized how many different elements compose an enjoyable trivia environment: location, noise level at the pub, quality of food and drink, variety of food and drink, personality of host, pacing of the questions, difficulty of the questions, etc. We encountered a couple of bars that had decent questions and food, but were in slightly inconvenient locations. At Trinity Bar in Surry Hills, we encountered familiar questions. In fact, we learned that we'd answered those exact same questions 32 weeks prior when we met the host, none other than DJ Mike Blades. It felt so strange seeing him in another trivia context.

He told us the whole story about how the management at the Fringe Bar told him on Monday that he wouldn't be needed on Tuesday, but then rang back Wednesday indicating that the new format was a failure and would he please come back next Tuesday. While we had imagined Blades was on to bigger and better gigs, he had been back at the trivia for weeks. We found ourselves back at the Fringe Bar, too, for Mike and Laura's last trivia night for old time's sake.

When they left, Paddington was no longer a central meeting point for all so we decided to give The Harlequin Inn in Pyrmont a try. Pyrmont is convenient for Mickey and Thor because it's near the Google office and it also happens to be down the road from Tim's place. It's not quite as easy for me to get there, but the quality of the questions make the trek worthwhile. Host Jason Dean writes a crossword and two rounds of twenty questions from scratch each week. Many of the questions and all of the answers involve pictures and video. Jason keeps it lively and delivers the questions at a good pace. Best of all, the questions are easier than at the Fringe (no obscure Aussie sports questions!) and we've actually won first prize twice. I can't say if we'll be at the Harley forever, but it's certainly our Tuesday night home for now.


Nan said...

Hope the Harlequin will prove to be fun for this oldish Beatles fan and 1950/1970s tv addict.

Nan said...

Looking forward to the Harlequin and hoping that the DJ presents some questions on the Beatles and 1950-1975 television from the US