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Nov 28, 2022

The Quiz Business: Meet the masters of ceremonies behind some of the Lowcountry’s most exciting trivia nights

Barry Kaufman

Photography By

Two Lights, One Stand
What boy band performed the famous Chili’s “Baby Back Ribs” jingle in a 2002 commercial? Who is the NFL’s all-time leader in touchdowns scored? What is the official language of the African nations Mozambique, Equatorial Guinea, Angola and Guinea-Bissau? These are questions that few among us can readily answer. Add in the pressure of answering […]

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What boy band performed the famous Chili’s “Baby Back Ribs” jingle in a 2002 commercial? Who is the NFL’s all-time leader in touchdowns scored? What is the official language of the African nations Mozambique, Equatorial Guinea, Angola and Guinea-Bissau?

These are questions that few among us can readily answer. Add in the pressure of answering them in a roomful of friends, and with the effects of a few drinks sloshing around in your brain, and it can be a real challenge. It’s the job of the trivia host to ask these questions and tease that information out of your brain. The rest of the teasing they leave to your teammates when you fail to identify (respectively) NSYNC, Jerry Rice, and Portuguese.

Trivia can be an enjoyable way for friends to gather or it can be a cutthroat competition of brainpower and fast reflexes. No matter which way it goes, the nucleus of the whole experience, the ring master of this circus, is the host—there to keep things light and show you how much random information you have squirreled away in your head. Here we meet a few of the area’s finest.

“Hodge”
(Michael Hodge)

Where can we find you hosting trivia?
Southern Barrel Brewing Co., every Tuesday at 7 p.m. for the last seven years.

What theme night goes over best?
Harry Potter and Disney theme nights always bring out the crowds. Never hurts that I am in costume those nights, too.

Where/how do you come up with your questions?
Well, the internet is certainly helpful, but I like using old Trivial Pursuit questions. I also have a ton of old trivia books.

What’s your favorite board game?
Risk, but I can never get anyone to play. (Sad Hodge)

How often do you stump the room (meaning no one gets it right)?

Usually, at least once a night during general knowledge trivia. However, I have to make the questions significantly more difficult when asking about Harry Potter, Disney, The Office, or Friends. People think, “I love The Office; I will get all of these right.” Then, the whole room doesn’t. Point for Hodge.

Most creative team name you’ve ever heard:
We get a lot of these. At the end of the first round, I call out all the team names and give a round of drinks to the team with the “best” team name. This can get a little graphic to say the least. When I explain this rule each week, I use a few examples we have heard before. Those who have been to Southern Barrel trivia know the answer to this question.

Do you give clues?
Yes and no. Sometimes, when the answer is a single digit number, I’ll make it that question. Or, after I ask a question a few times, I sometimes give another tidbit of information about the answer that may help someone come up with it.

Do you call people out for cheating?
Yes, when it is apparent. Because we don’t do a cumulative trivia (we award a prize at the end of each round and then start over for the next round), we don’t get a lot of cheating. I let everyone know that there are no “life lines” in Southern Barrel trivia. A few years ago, we had a table where everyone was over the age of 70, and they correctly answered, “Chance the Rapper.” Really? Name one of his songs. Hahaha … cheaters.

Barry Kaufman

Where can we find you hosting trivia?
Just follow the sounds of The Blues Brothers’ “Rubber Biscuit” to Captain Woody’s Bluffton on Wednesday nights and Lot 9 Brewing Co. on Thursdays. I also do the odd one-off event for private parties every now and again.

What theme night goes over best?
As I write this, I’m getting ready to host Hocus Pocus trivia, which is looking like it’s going to be our biggest theme night ever. Which is terrifying since I have never watched that movie.

Where/how do you come up with your questions?
Some come from late night inspiration, some from the bottom of a Wikipedia rabbit hole. But a lot of them come from a co-op of trivia hosts I joined on Reddit. Shoutout to the mods!

What’s your favorite board game?
I have been officially banned from playing Scrabble with my family because I’m pretty good at it, and I have no chill about that fact.

How often do you stump the room (meaning no one gets it right)?
Twice last night, which was a rarity. Usually, I try to get at least 20 percent of the crowd to feel smarter than the other 80 percent.

Most creative team name you’ve ever heard:
I had one team that used to routinely cross the line with their team names, and while they were always creative, none of them are fit for print.

Do you give clues?
No, but my song choices do—usually with a degree of subtlety ranging from none at all to a little.

Do you call people out for cheating?
Do I look like a cop to you? That’s why I do a speed bonus in the second half. Anyone who has to look up answers is gonna get buried by the folks who don’t.

Chris Davey

Where can we find you hosting trivia?
I host trivia at Grooby’s Too on Mondays and R-bar on Wednesdays.

What theme night goes over best?
Our games do not have a theme, except for the week of Christmas. Our game is four rounds of five questions, each in the general knowledge department: history, geography, sports, TV, movies, and music among some of the topics.

Where/how do you come up with your questions?
Our games are downloaded through the national home office at DJ Trivia. We are a franchise for this area of the country.

What’s your favorite board game?
It’s been a minute since I have played, but my favorite board game is Risk. I just do not have a lot of free time with my current schedule.

How often do you stump the room (meaning no one gets it right)?
It’s not as often as you would think; between the three games I do each week, maybe once or twice I have “skunked” the room I preview each game the night before and try to anticipate which question might get them.

Most creative team name you’ve ever heard:
Better late than pregnant! It was a group of ladies visiting for a girls’ week a couple of years ago.

Do you give clues?
We do have daily clues posted on both Facebook and the website DJtrivia.com which hints at a few answers for that evening’s game. I call it doing your homework before coming to play. We also play a song after each question is read, and sometimes there are hints in the song title, the artist, or the lyrics. Not always, and now and then we might play one that throws you off track with your thinking.

Do you call people out for cheating?
Yes, I continuously remind them not to use their phones or ask the servers/bartenders for the answer. I also ask each team to police each other during the game and to not wait until the end of the game if they see someone cheating so I may address it. The teams that play every week are not the concern. It is usually the new team that needs to be reminded about the no phone rule.

Keith McCool

Where can we find you hosting trivia?
I host trivia every other Tuesday night at Lincoln And South Brewing Company.

What theme night goes over best?
The busiest themed trivia I ever hosted was The Office.

Where/how do you come up with your questions?
I try to first get a category together then go from there. I make up a lot of the questions and try to find others via internet search. Fact checking and the way you present the question are also very important so that it is clear and concise. Knowing your audience is also key.

What’s your favorite board game?
My favorite board game is probably Battleship.

How often do you stump the room (meaning no one gets it right)?
I would say at least one question a night usually stumps everyone. It’s a fine line to walk because you don’t want it to be too easy or too difficult. Making sure everyone is having fun is very important.

Most creative team name you’ve ever heard:
My favorite name I remember was probably “I got 99 problems but this quiz ain’t one.”

Do you give clues?
Clues are tricky because you don’t want to give too big of a hint. However, I will throw a hint out here and there.

Do you call people out for cheating?
Cheaters can certainly ruin a good night. I always explain what isn’t allowed at the beginning. I have 100 percent called out several people for cheating.

Tim Wood, aka DJ T-Dubb

Where can we find you hosting trivia?
Weekly, Mondays at Local Pie Bluffton, Wednesday Theme Nights at Tio’s Bluffton, and music bingo every third Saturday at Lot 9 Brewing Company (as my alter ego, DJ T-Dubb). Plus, I’m a regular at Sun City neighborhood parties.

What theme night goes over best?
Music bingo has taken off; it’s always a packed house. But in terms of trivia, folks love their TV, and specifically Friends, Harry Potter, and Star Wars can draw quite the crowds as well.

Where/how do you come up with your questions?
That’s kind of the secret sauce, isn’t it? I’m always on the lookout, whether it’s interesting shows I see or books I read, how to turn some cool nugget into a fun trivia question.

What’s your favorite board game?
I love Monopoly and Catan and Risk. If only I were as good at acquiring island real estate as I am at building hotels on Park Avenue and Boardwalk or taking over neighboring kingdoms.

How often do you stump the room (meaning no one gets it right)?
Hopefully not more than once a night. Finding that perfect balance between too easy and over the top is the key. You want to challenge folks, but above all, it’s fun. And getting every question wrong is the exact opposite of fun. I always tell folks, if you don’t know the answer, at least try to make the room laugh with a fun answer.

Most creative team name you’ve ever heard:
I’m a sucker for Joey Triviani or Miss Chanandler Bong. But in general trivia, I love E=MC Hammer. It shows a wide range of knowledge. Of course, “Wood You Please Let Us Win?” always scores brownie points.

Do you give clues?
I give a free answer on Facebook, and the music always has clues to the answer. But I am very easily bribable as well.

Do you call people out for cheating?
The app we use has some built-in safeguards, but you really have to be blatantly obvious to get called out. And trivia players police themselves. It’s amazing how heated it gets for a restaurant gift card. But there is a code among trivia addicts.

Matt Stock

Where can we find you hosting trivia?
The World Famous Cool Cats Lounge, Thursday nights at 6:30!

What theme night goes over best?
I have yet to do a theme night. I don’t think my regulars would like it. Around Halloween, I tried to go heavy on horror questions, but none of them even knew Michael Myers’ hometown. I mean, seriously? It’s Haddonfield, Illinois by the way.

Where/how do you come up with your questions?
Some from online databases, some from board games, some I make up, and, in a pinch, from Barry Kaufman—the master!

What’s your favorite board game?
Oh, Trivial Pursuit forever!

How often do you stump the room (meaning no one gets it right)?
I’d say maybe three questions a week. I love it because it gives me a chance to admonish the teams and act superior to them. In a joking fashion. A somewhat joking fashion.

Most creative team name you’ve ever heard:
You can’t print it, but it was just last night, and it was a hoot.

Do you give clues?
Sure! If I feel like the room is grouchy over a particular question, I’ll throw ’em a bone.

Do you call people out for cheating?
Oh, yes. They must be publicly shamed to the best of my abilities! But we’ve got a super honest crowd at the Lounge. I love my teams; we have a blast every week.

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