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Monday, June 20, 2011

Bmag June 21st 2011 - Trivia night terror

When my son Jack started school six years ago, I may have told the principal I was willing to do anything with a microphone as long as I never had to turn sausages! I say “may” at the instruction of my lawyers who are currently working on getting me out of hosting trivia nights for the rest of my life!

But it’s not just the school that invites me to host trivia nights – and truth be told, I generally always say yes!

You see, I have a head for useless information and I love asking quiz questions but for reasons I shall explain, running trivia nights is the most terrifying duty I am ever asked to perform! If you’ve ever been to one, you’ll have an idea where I’m going with this. But there are some behind-the-scenes goings on I am ready to reveal!

The obvious challenges for a trivia night host are: firstly, the people at the back who can’t hear, partly because of the ageing PA system, but mostly because of the people in front of them yapping all night; secondly, the people who are yapping all night but still ask you to repeat all the questions!

Then there are those who delight in pointing out others who are using their mobiles to phone-a-friend or search the internet and ask “What are you going to do about it?!”

Finally, there’s the table of professionals who go from trivia night to trivia night with specialists in different subject areas. They take their own booze informed (not adding further to the fundraising effort), drink too much of that booze and spend all night querying the answers. They also tend to win, much to the chagrin of the organising committee.

But sometimes it’s the organisers themselves who bring on the MC terror. Specifically, the person who’s been volunteered – probably against their will – to come up with the questions. At one bowls club trivia night the questions were written by a rail employee. The one which almost caused a riot was: in the Santa Claus Steam Train Special departing Roma Street on December 13, how many passengers are allowed in the dining car in each sitting?!!

Another time I wasn’t allowed to pay World War One as the answer because the question-writer insisted it wasn’t called World War ONE until there had been a World War TWO!

And once, the person in charge of marking made a simple mathematical mistake and the wrong team was awarded all the prizes. I hadn’t noticed either but at the very end of the night, whilst the chairs were being stacked, one of the actual winners whispered in my ear. (He’s now an MP, so maybe this story will one day surface in his autobiography!)

So what have I learned from hosting all these trivia nights? For one thing, always provide your own questions!

At least if you’ve done the research, you’re in a position to argue the toss. Unfortunately this still isn’t fail-safe. Thanks to the urban-myth-busting deliberately planting mistruths on its own website – apparently to teach people never to rely on one source! – I erroneously marked people down for saying the talking horse Mr Ed wasn’t played by a zebra! (And would you believe, the same aforementioned now- MP was there again! And yes, it is possible his team would have won the night if not for that one mistake by yours truly!)

But the main thing I’ve learned is that when Jack starts high school in 2013, I won’t tell anyone that I work in radio! Instead, I’ll turn up to the first P&C meeting with my barbecue apron on and tongs in hand!

Entertainment overload

In the last issue of bmag, I lamented the difficulty of keeping up with all the movies, television, books and music that are created every year.

Jen Hansen emailed: “There is never enough time to watch and listen to everything but if you keep an open mind, occasionally you stumble across some timeless pop culture gems.”

Bruce Redman tweeted me: “It’s awkward when a person marries younger
and they don’t have the same pop culture history.”

And Andrew Murrell said it saddened him to think of all the television he would never see – shows that will be made after we are all long gone. Time machine anyone?

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