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What's the capital of Kentucky? Louisville, you say. Hey, try Frankfort instead. You can pick up countless facts like this from Josh Stasinos who's arguably the local king of pub quizzes. The genial 41-year-old Los Angeles native has been writing trivia for eight years.
How many quizzes do you run? And at what venues?
Two weekly quizzes: Monday nights at Ice Haüs [where he's general manager], and Wednesday nights at Ogden's Funk 'n Dive bar. I also have a friend who uses my questions every Friday night in Maui at the Shearwater Tavern, so I guess that makes me transpacific. I also do several corporate quizzes a year.
How did you become involved in pub quizzes?
Simply, I was bartending a slow Monday night, and had heard about pub quizzes elsewhere. I wanted to be busier and make more money so I came up with a unique format. My first quiz took me a month to write, but was a huge success. When it was over I realized I had to do it again every week ... and here we are eight years later.
What are the general categories?
Round one is done on a Bingo card and is 24 general trivia questions. Round two is name-that-tune, where they only get 20 seconds to name the artist and title. Rounds three, four and five are each themed. Over the last eight years, I have covered just about every subject you can think of—and then some.
Which category is easiest—and hardest? And which is your favorite?
Any category can be made hard or easy depending on how it's written. The biggest hits are when I go to great lengths to be clever—like ridiculous descriptions of movie plots—but those are also exhausting to write. I love music, so that is my favorite round to put together. It also takes the most time.
How do you come up with the questions? Over the years, there must be thousands.
I always have pen and paper with me. I take notes of interesting things all week long—that I hear on the radio, read, see in film or TV ... a random conversation at the bar. Anything can become a question. At this point, it's tens of thousands. Sometimes a regular will say I've already asked that question, but over the years I have mostly not repeated myself.
Do you have "groupies"—regular quiz followers?
I have gotten to know a lot of people very closely over the years. They come and go. Some have been coming for many years. My friends in Maui met and married because of my trivia.
What's the fascination of pub quizzes? What's their origin? Maybe TV or radio quiz shows?
It's like watching Jeopardy, but with drinking, and the possibility of winning something. There are heaps of trivia shows on the radio and TV and on the internet, but a pub quiz is much more personal and interactive ... and R-rated. And it's an excuse to drink on a Monday night and not feel bad about it. They started in the U.K. in the '70s for the same reason I did it ... to pack a pub on a slow night.
You award prizes, right?
The top three teams win a prize—white-elephant style. I have given everything from Lego mini-figures, to Squatty Potties, to Ziplock bags that appear to have cockroaches in them, and everything bar- and drinking-related ... except the alcohol itself.