On Hosting a Pub Quiz

Part 1 of an ongoing series by Deven Deshpande. An experienced quiz master, he has hosted over a 100 Pub Quizzes for us.

The first pub quiz I hosted was in Pune, around May 2015. It was The Manchester United Quiz at Effingut Brewerkz in Koregaon Park. Prior to this, I had had experience of hosting numerous school, college, and Open quizzes. However, for the first time in my life, I was going to give away pints and not points! :)

I wore my ManUtd jersey for the quiz and read up on some trivia about United before commencing the session. The turnout was decent and the overall participation was lukewarm. Seems like not many were ardent supporters of the team that plays at The Theatre of Dreams. In short, my first quiz bombed.

After this quiz, my next outing was at Doolally, Corinthians. I had called in sick that day at my workplace to prepare for this. I wanted this to go well. Badly. I had even printed just 1 question on 1 sheet because the lighting there wasn't great! Yes, the font size was 48. I was not in the mood to take any risks! I had rehearsed my intro over 50 times and knew that line backwards. The prep, however, wasn't even the toughest part. The toughest part was finding that outlet which is located in the middle of nowhere! I had reached 2 hours early, of course. 

The questions were on a certain Flamenco performer and her connection with a 2011 Bollywood movie (do you know?), on the cover page of the bestseller Freakonomics, and on Hakuna Matata among others. 
The audience had a good time. At least, that's what I think! Finally, I had some confidence and got the belief, "Hey! I can pull this off..."

These were my first two checkpoints on this journey. 3 years, 100 pub quizzes, and around 3000 questions later - here are some of the takeaways I have.

Points to remember Before The Quiz

Be Thorough - If you want to ensure minimum hiccups, simple: prepare well. Know your set inside out. If the question is on Sachin Tendulkar's debut, read up on who else made a debut in that match (answer in the comments below). You should have all the facts around the questions handy. Rehearse your set, plant your jokes (remember - NOTHING IS SPONTANEOUS), and keep some banter questions ready.


Print it - Technology betrays, paper doesn't. I still prefer the old style of printing out your question sets (of course, if there is no use of the projector-screen setup). Some hosts like to use their device but I have seen them getting stuck in the middle for some reason or the other.

Be Punctual - No matter what, reach an hour before time to get the recce of the place and atmosphere. Familiarize yourself with the venue and its geography. It'll help your movements become more free and natural. When you reach early you can do a mic check, go through the set once, talk with some of the audience members, etc. You can completely focus on the questions in the quiz and not on questions like "Why is my Uber driver so slow?", "Why is it raining?" and "When the hell will this traffic move?" Thus, reach before time, every time.

Be Presentable - You are going to represent the pub as well as your quizzing company. Your attire has to be of a certain class. Wearing floaters or flip-flops would make the audience feel you are casual about this. I always prefer a good pop-culture based tee or a shirt and blue-jeans. 

Be Energetic - Pub quizzes often start late in the evening. You might be working somewhere and/or you might have had a long day at the office. The worst you can do is let that stress and fatigue show in your performance. Ensure that you have the maximum amount of energy when the quiz commences, and through it. 

Clear Voice - Last but not the least, your voice is your main weapon through the night. Diction, pronunciations, tone, throw, all are going to play a significant role in the experience of the customer. Thus, gargle with hot water before the session, practice your pronunciations (pencil technique - hold a pencil across your mouth and speak as clearly as possible), read up on mic handling techniques etc. The clarity in your voice is going to be imperative in your performance going well.

Post It - Social Media is a very powerful tool. Your talents can go viral, especially if you are a dancing uncle or an aunt who constantly requests her companions to drink tea! Anyway, the point is to promote your event on all social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, Snapchat...). Let people know that you are conducting this event. Create that buzz and excitement about your gig. Make some quirky videos or a witty post to generate enthusiasm about your quiz. On the other hand, it is also important to know the kind of social media chatter the venue is doing, and the tone of your post should resonate with theirs. Here's a small rhyme I tried for promotions.

For this post, we will stop here! There are some very important points to remember During The Quiz, which I shall cover in my next post. Till then, hope you have a great time hosting a pub quiz!

One final thought before we part ways - 

On a certain Thursday evening, Raj has decided to meet his friend Amar at a pub. They are meeting after a long time, since both of them are based in different regions. They meet at 8 PM and are excited to converse about their experiences. Suddenly, some chap holds a mic and announces there's going to be a pub quiz starting in 5. They were completely unaware of this. 
Now, the host is going to interrupt their conversation...

Read part 2 here.

If you are a stand-up comedian, professional or amateur MC, a debater or anyone who enjoys speaking publicly and interacting with people, do host for us! Apply here!