The fourth and final installment on my intellectual journey through Sydney’s pub trivia scene was The Orient, scene of many a beer-soaked argument about early 90s five-eighths shouted over the top of some failed musicians covering Mustang Sally. The Orient is one of those pubs you promise yourself you’ll never go back to, but like buying Maroon 5 CDs and hitting reply all when you’re angry, you can’t seem to stop yourself.
I was sitting peaceably in the ground level public bar, my feet tucked up above the rail of the barstool to keep it off the high dank factor mangy carpet, when it became clear to me from the lack of mobilisation that trivia wasn’t taking place in this room anytime soon. I hotfooted it upstairs, to the Orient’s elegant restaurant room, which is adjacent to an open plan school hall-style cavern festooned with trestle tables and the type of seats you sit on at the dentist’s surgery while awaiting root canal. Salubrious these surroundings were not.
The trivia at the Orient only started a few weeks back. It’s hosted by Bill. He’s the founder, CEO and lead inquisitor of IQ Trivia. It stands for Interesting Questions. Look, truth-bomb time, Bill packs every possible gimmick and novelty into his trivia, and normally my frustrations would be legion, but he somehow manages to pull it off, mostly due to the sheer strength of charming personality. He’s Canadian — that always helps — and he was wearing a Mr Grumpy tshirt. Incidentally, I have unilaterally decided to remove the hyphen from tshirt. I hate hyphens so much.
Where to begin with Bill’s trivia chicanery? He very kindly emailed me last week’s homework question (what does NASDAQ stand for?); be the first to answer one of four bonus questions (pick Singapore from its constituent neighbourhoods and unraveling a singer from INNOVATE HOWL JOIN were two) and you can choose either a free drink or an extra point; create a team name that fits with a preordained theme (potential Secret Service codenames) for another point; gamble up to 5 points for a 10-point swinger (what was Wonder Woman creator William Moulton Marston’s other realy world invention?); score one point if your response to a binary question is the mode among playing teams (would you eat a tablespoon of wasabi for $500); correctly answer the question from a topic chosen from the previous week’s last place getters (English Manor Houses: which film character from 1989 and 1992 lived at Knebworth House?); one more on offer if you can draw a noun (“butterfly”) and adjective (
“jonquil” “throbbing”) shouted from the audience (every single team drew a penis); and lotsa points on offer if you can forensically untangle four Simpsons stills. Exhaustive doesn’t begin to describe it.
I tend to prefer exam conditions when playing trivia but for a Thursday night with the weekend in sight at one of the more notorious houses of ill-repute why put up a fight? Bill is a smooth guy with a sharp wit and winsome manner. Sometimes you need to just let it go James Bay style and give in to the revelry. Playing with Paul and NK, any presence of caring about the result was soon abandoned like a bouquet at a wedding — the moment it takes flight you wonder why you ever cared in the first place — replaced instead with a devil may care delight in good old fashioned answers and questions, in myriad forms of peculiarity.
IQ Trivia at the Orient isn’t going to usurp more the serious trivias I play regularly in Cremorne and soon-to-be-regularly in Redfern, but it is miles better than the one I will never play again in Paddington. But that doesn’t mean frivolity doesn’t have a place at the trivia table. If you are going to lean towards fun > furrows you have to do it well, so well done Bill.
The jackpot at The Orient is self-funded at a rate of $1 per head. Nothing is straightforward. Bill asks the three jackpot questions one at a time. You write down your answer to the question and take your answer slip up to the judging catafalque. If you are the only team with a correct answer, you win the jackpot. If more than one team answers correctly, only those teams move onto the second question, and so on to the third. The winning team gets to choose which question is asked first. They chose #3 — what musical is about a town that only appears for one day every 100 years? — I misunderstood the rules and thought you had to be first to win the jackpot, so I manically stole the answer slip from Paul and hastily scribbled by answer like a crazy person before bolting Usain Bolt-style up to Bill with the chad, much to the mirth of all the other players methodically utilising the full minute’s answering time to submit their responses.
tbh I thought every team would get this but it turns out only did…
So This Week Is Trivia ends with a jackpot win after fifth, second, third and third place results. Thanks to everyone for coming along and playing with me or for reading these updates.