Cultural anthropologists are still debating the precise
origins of today's hugely popular Pub Quiz, a 'live' trivia quiz
show administered by a 'Quizmaster' to teams of bar goers everywhere.
Traditionally scheduled for an 'off' night (usually Sunday - Thursday),
the Pub Quiz is a revenue boon for bar owners and provides lively
entertainment in a friendly, social atmosphere for anyone old enough
to go to a bar.
Though the truth is still shrouded in a barroom haze, most likely
the Pub Quiz evolved in Britain and Ireland in the early days
of television. Pubs, of course, have always been places to drink,
socialize and relax. But in the 1950s, many pubs had another
draw: unlike most homes, the pubs had television! The growth of televised game
shows drew great attention of the imbibers. Pub
regulars often called out answers to game show questions before
the studio contestants did, prompting fellow pub goers to shout, "Why
don't you go on that show?" to the most knowledgeable bar
The friendly rivalry, lighthearted banter and increased
bar business attributable to the television quiz shows inspired pub
owners to offer 'live' quiz shows as a regular feature on their pub
entertainment calendars. At one point, as many as 500 teams competed
in weekly inter-pub matches in Lancashire County, England. To this
day 'live' pub quizzes enjoy immense popularity throughout Britain and
parts of Ireland.
In the United States, Pub Quiz Shows thrive in San
Francisco, Boston, New York and other cities, particularly with those of
Anglo-Irish descent. Bars in these cities host weekly pub quiz
shows, packing the house with trivia fans eager to show their prowess.
Teams formed of friends, co-workers, family (and even
people flying solo at the bar) battle each other over rounds of questions
fired at them by the host or pub 'Quizmaster'.
More Americans now enjoy the fun and excitement
of the Pub Quiz at their favorite local bar or restaurant as bar owners realize
the potential for new business. Besides offering a great way to meet new
people (including members of the opposite sex!), the Pub Quiz invites
participants to flex their trivia muscles and perhaps even win a prize
or two and the associated bragging rights!
(Copyright © 1999-2008
Liam McAtasney. All Rights Reserved. 'The Irish-American Pub Quiz')
Finbarr Fleming from County Armagh, N. Ireland writes:
"The first league that
I took part in, to raise money for local charities, would have been
in 1974. There were over 30 teams from different pubs in the district.
It was divided up into 4 league areas and there were home and away
leagues with 2 points being awarded for a win. The leaders from each
section went through to the knock-out stage and the winners of the
whole competition received trophies and were naturally well treated
by the owner of the pub that they represented! Local charities did
well also. The quiz was always held on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday
night, so if your team wasn't competing, you would go to spectate
at another match, partly to look at the opposition plus perhaps pick
up more answers to trivia questions.
The only people who really had to work hard were the
compilers of the questions.
I still go to quizzes every week, usually two, but
the season will be coming to an end soon so I'll be cutting down, not
out of choice, but because there are none going on!"
Many thanks to Carol Farrand and Finbarr Fleming for
their help with this article.
If you have any ideas as to the origins
of the Pub Quiz we'd love to hear them. Please Contact