The Pursuit of Trivia

Test Your Knowledge for Fun and Prizes — But Mostly Fun — at Trivia Nights Around Town



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Do leprechauns have occupations? How many cows does it take to make one full season of NFL footballs? What were the two original purposes for the tall mast on the top of the Empire State Building?

The questions come from everywhere: television reruns, trips to the grocery store, overheard snippets of conversation. And when innate curiosity combines with the joys of friendly competition — and perhaps some libations — the answers can be found in local restaurants’ and bars’ trivia competitions.

The area’s highly educated population — of adults 25 and older here, 74 percent have at least some college on their résumé, versus the U.S. average of 57 percent — could explain the popularity of trivia nights. In Tallahassee, those with a taste for the arcane can compete six nights a week at more than 20 venues.

Five years ago, Hank Saints played trivia games each week with a team of friends, enjoying a meal and drinks. When he was laid off from the Florida Department of Children and Family Services in 2011, a night out with friends became an unaffordable luxury. But when a local biker bar offered him free beer in exchange for running its trivia night, he decided to give it a shot — and Trivia with Hank was born.

Hank Saints

Emma Kaplan

Today, Hank is a trivia professional, running trivia nights at five different spots four nights a week, plus private parties. His format is five rounds of 10 questions each; photo identification, audio clips and current events comprise three of the rounds.

“I wake up, write five rounds of trivia and use the questions that night,” he said. “One question evolves into a category, and I build from there. I also try to tailor to the crowd.”

On a recent Wednesday night at Proof Brewing Company in Railroad Square, that meant a round of 10 questions about dog breeds — as good weather allows a larger, outside crowd to play along, often with dogs in tow.

Wednesday night trivia with Hank at Proof Brewing Company at Railroad Square.

EMMA KAPLAN

 

On Sunday nights at Sidecar Gastrobar on Timberlane Road, he adds a sixth round, but other locations include an unusual crowd-pleaser, the Hoarder’s Delight giveaway. A team drawn at random is awarded an item from the host’s personal stash. Two yards of fake fur, half a bottle of flavored vodka and a machete have all found new homes with drawing winners. Other ways to win include Best Team Name (as selected by the bar or restaurant’s staff) and first, second and third place overall at the end of all rounds of trivia.

On Monday nights, the 21-plus crowd at Midtown Speakeasy makes any topic fair game. A photo round about liquor had the bartenders stashing bottles under the bar to preclude any temptation to cheat. Fewer teams play at the Speakeasy than at Hank’s other trivia nights, increasing the odds of taking a prize.

It’s a preferred night out for Amber Vongs and her team We’re Not That Drunk, two couples who have played Trivia with Hank every week for four years at the Speakeasy. Amber and her husband, Ron, have also hired Hank three times for private parties.

“He worked with us to customize the categories, which made it especially fun,” she said. “At Christmas, there were rounds on Holiday TV Specials and Other December Holidays. For birthdays, he worked with Birth Year Trivia and Favorite Music.”

For private parties, Hank says the trivia becomes a warmup, an opportunity for guests to start talking — and drinking.

“Shots for the winning team after each round,” combined with a sing-along-inspiring audio round, has even the shyest guests in the mix for the rest of the evening. 

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