So I’ll begin by saying that the Mental Floss Trivia Night was a whole lot of fun, and everyone there really seemed to enjoy themselves. So a big kudos to the folks at Mental Floss for putting on a really fun and entertaining show! It was an impressive start considering this was their first time putting this on, and I think everybody is really hoping they do it again.
That being said, as a first attempt it certainly had it’s strong and weak points. One of the stronger aspects of the show was just that, it was a “show”. The whole event had a much more visually crisp, professional feel about it than pretty much any pub quiz or trivia night you will find around town. From beautiful custom graphics both on the answer sheets and the video projections, to the very fact that by hosting it at Galapagos Art Space they had a venue complete with a real stage and lighting. I think that they were also helped by the fact that since Galapagos isn’t a bar everyone present was there for trivia so there was no issue with people who weren’t playing having loud conversations, or shouting out answers. The only drawback to looking so professional is that when things get a little screwy it’s a little more noticeable, like when there was confusion involving a bunch of missing answer sheets, and it turned out that they forgot to send anyone up to the balcony to collect from the teams up there. In a small, slightly chaotic bar this is all par for the course, but with such a pro atmosphere it seemed less so. Of course this is probably why most trivia nights let teams turn in their own answer sheets and don’t send people around to collect them.
Another innovation that I really liked was the fact that there was not only a maximum team size of 10, but there was a minimum team size of 4. This prevents there from being a ridiculous number of small teams, and (gasp) actually made everyone have to interact and make friends! I personally arrived as part of a team of three, who then joined forces with 3 teams of 2 all of whom turned out to be awesome people and were great fun to hang out with. The only real issue with all this “new friendship” is that it can potentially make prize distribution rather difficult or unpleasant, since most all of the prizes are rather difficult to split. This might not prove so difficult with teams made up of good friends (and thankfully my new teammates were all pretty cool about it), but this could easily turn into a problem with teams made up of total strangers having to decide who gets the T-Shirt, who gets the Med-School-In-A-Box toy, and who gets the Digital Camera. Yes…you heard me right! Those are the kind of prizes you are playing for, not the traditional free beer or round of drinks. On the plus side these sorts of prizes certainly make the game a little more exciting and also solve the old issue of the winning team having to look at their watches and decide if they really want to have their free round of drinks at 11PM on a weeknight.
As for the questions asked they were once again very innovative. The quiz is done as five rounds. There are three team rounds and two “individual” rounds where they take a number of volunteers up onto the stage to compete in events such as a “Pop Culture Spelling Bee” where contestants must spell names like Balki Bartokomous, and Bill Belichick. The first two team rounds are done on paper, and are a good combination of curious general knowledge questions, and creative rounds like identify the state, where they briefly show you the outline of a state that has been rotated and/or flipped. After each of these rounds teams trade papers and score each others sheets. Things got a little wonky here again. In one round different questions had different point values and several teams seemed to get confused. Hopefully in the future come scoring time the point value of questions will be included in the very convenient answer sheet that they put up on the projector!
For the very last round each team sent a representative to the stage and questions were answered in a step forward to vote yes, and backward to vote no style. This was great to watch as the entire room turned into The Price is Right with teams shouting and signaling to their representative whether they should step forward or back. This also led to some amusing peer pressure incidents as some reps would second guess themselves when the entire line stepped opposite them. The only real problem with this came in the end when only two teams remained and the team reps always voted exactly the same way whether right or wrong. There is a definite issue here since if a team knows they are in the lead they have no incentive to do anything other than follow whatever the other team does as it effectively guarantees they maintain their lead.
So all told it was a great night out. There were some minor issues but I, along with everyone I talked to at the event certainly hope they do it again. Practice makes perfect right?
Where: Galapagos Art Space, DUMBO Brooklyn
When: Special Event…will see about future dates.
Team Size: 4 – 10
Length: 5 Rounds of Questions, done around 10PM
Identify which are Scientology Terms, and Which are the names of German Techno Artists: Teegeeack, Flula Borg, Dead Agent, Sunshine Rundown, Terminal Choice, Moonbotica.
During which war was the battle of Island #10
Website: Mental Floss