Omkar Yarguddi has been hosting pub-quizzes for Thinq2Win since 2015.
"You will be interrupting people from their predecided agenda of drinking, so you better be good."
It was in January 2015 that I hosted a pub quiz for the first time in my life. The venue was Effingut Koregaon Park, Pune, then a relatively new craft brewery. Up until then, being the accha baccha that I am, I had no idea of what a pub was let alone pub quizzes. Granted I had hosted some quizzes back in college, but there was nothing that could have prepared me for what was to come that fateful night.
The setting was unfamiliar, the lighting: dim. Needless to say, I was nervous, with this being my first ever pub quiz. I had been given a brief that said "You will be interrupting people from their predecided agenda of drinking, so you better be good."
Eminem summed up perfectly what I kind of felt at that moment when he said:
His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy
There's vomit on his sweater already, mom's spaghetti
He's nervous, but on the surface he looks calm and ready
To drop bombs, but he keeps on forgettin'
What he wrote down, the whole crowd goes so loud
He opens his mouth, but the words won't come out"
But when it was time to start, it all got pushed to the back of my head. I started by welcoming people to the venue, explaining the rules, and asking the first question. One table answered, then two, then three. Enthusiasm started building, beer (and adrenaline, too) started flowing, and with every cheer of "Yes!!!" my confidence started rising. I was asking people their name, what they did, how often they came there, engaging in some playful banter. As it happened, 3 different people from 3 different tables had said they were teachers. I was thrilled to see they were knocking question after question out of the park! And when the person from the next table answering also said "I am a teacher", I burst out laughing. What were the chances of that happening, right?
"Are ye kya teacher teacher laga rakha hai?! Band karo ye! Kuch gana-vana chalao!"
Sadly, this moment of mirth was not to last because immediately a shout of "Are ye kya teacher teacher laga rakha hai?! Band karo ye! Kuch gana-vana chalao!" rang out from the far corner. This was my deer in headlights moment. I was stunned for a moment, I had not imagined something like this would happen even in my wildest dreams. Going by the silence in the room, neither had anybody else it would seem. You could have heard a pin drop. A pin-drop silence in a pub. Who would have though? This was indeed turning out to be a whole set of firsts for me. But after a brief moment, I realized I had the mic, so I announced a quick break to play some music for the table of disgruntled patrons and to regroup. They quieted down once the music started playing again. In the meantime, I had a chat with the manager and we decided to call it a night.
I was a little disappointed, a little angry, a little relieved, a little curious about what got them to react like that. I even started going over what I had said that evening that could have set them off. Everything seemed to be shrouded in an impenetrable fog. Things, however, started falling into place only when I spoke to the manager the next week. It was then that I discovered a key fact - the thread that connected everything, the piece of evidence that would have made Sherlock say 'Elementary, my dear Watson." The table that had interrupted the flow of beer for others had had a steady stream coming their way for a few hours till that point! I returned to host the quiz at the same venue soon in the coming weeks and this time I was prepared for all such incidents. It went off fabulously and got me hooked to hosting pub quizzes, something that I continue to do regularly even 4 years later! I chuckle to this day when I remember it all.
But thinking back to that night, I can't help but wonder how what looked like a sudden interruption at that point turned out to be a valuable lesson in handling an unruly audience. All said and done I have never met another such table in all the other quizzes I have hosted since. I wish I run into that table from that night once more. And if that ever happens I won't tell them off, I'll thank them; for were it not for them, I'd never had built up the confidence in myself that I could handle any curve-balls the audience would throw my way in the future.
I would also highly recommend this series of blog-posts by my team-member Deven Deshpande on the do's and don't for new pub-quiz hosts!