Pub Quiz: A Land of Jumbled, Silly Trivia

Quiz is in the name, fun is in the game!

April 14, 2023

Yesenia Mozo

Put on your best announcer voice …

And give it up for (drum roll, please) … Pub Quiz! With every question, every category, every trivia point, and every whisper, imagine digging into the deepest depths of your brain as Pub Quiz transports you through more than an hour of trivia.

Grinnell’s Pub Quiz

Every Wednesday at 8:30 p.m., Pub Quiz hosts a game of seemingly never-ending trivia questions. Originally based in Lyle’s Pub in the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center (and then in Bob’s Underground in Main Hall), the trivia organization now hosts their growing club in the Humanities and Social Studies Center (HSSC) multipurpose room.

A group of students sit on a table, seemingly discussing questions in low voices
One of the best parts of Pub Quiz is the team names. Grinnellians are very creative; they’ve coined team names such as “Nutella Nation,” “Quiz Tin Steward,” “The Koala Bears,” and “How Many People Does it Take to Fix a Lightbulb?”

Pub Quiz’s leadership — also known as the “pub masters” — kicks off every game by registering team names and handing out freshly printed, blank answer sheets. Pub Quiz is a collaborative game to play with friends or individuals you have never met. For those who come as individuals, the pub masters match them to teams. Pub Quiz’s open and friendly environment makes way for new friendships and kind competitiveness.

On a huge PowerPoint screen, the pub masters present different trivia categories, from Current News to Star War Prequels, and read 10 trivia questions on the subject. Every week is different; one week may ask about PBS Kids shows or Fortnite instead (these categories were actually played!). Once the category is done, the round is over and one of the pub masters shouts, “Switch your sheets!” Adjacent teams then switch their sheets to grade one another.

A hand writes on a blank answer sheet
Pro Tip: the first question of every week’s game is, “What is the highest-grossing box office movie?”

After grading each other’s trivia sheets, the pub masters call out to each team to switch their sheets back and report their score, which the team shouts in return. Pub Quiz records the numbers for each round. At the end of the game, Pub Quiz is a wrap, with the losing team having control of next week’s category, otherwise known as the pity pick.

The pity picks can be any category. In the past few years, categories have ranged from American Tragedies to Scooby Doo and Kendrick Lamar. In addition to a pity pick, Pub Quiz introduces another spicy twist to the game. Almost weekly, Pub Quiz invites a student organization to host a round of trivia, whether it be about their organization, their events, or activism on campus. Through Pub Quiz, student organization leaders can inform players about what is happening in their organization. Recently, Pub Quiz has hosted the International Cuisine and Cultural Organization (ICCO), NextGen Iowa, the Global Development Studies department, the French SEPC, and more.

Around the holidays, Pub Quiz has been known to host theme-appropriate categories, such as a Halloween-themed Pub Quiz with categories like Haunted Places (ahem, like the White House), Frankenstein, and R.L. Stein. At random times, Pub Quiz will reward bonus points if you wear a certain color or outfit (for instance, wearing a costume to Pub Quiz).

A PowerPoint slide that has a picture of a dish on the left, and a question on the right that reads, "What organizations has ICCO collabed (collaborated) with so far?"
To keep Pub Quiz fun for our diverse Grinnellian population, the pub masters try their best to ask trivia questions on an international scale, regardless of whether it is for trivia questions about food, cultures, or current events.

Behind Pub Quiz

Many first-year students attend Pub Quiz after signing up at the organization fair in the Harris Center, where rows of organizations promote their organizations to the whole student body. Because of an inherent love for trivia, these Grinnellians always come back.

Maddie Hartog ’25, stumbled upon Pub Quiz when she helped host a round with Chaverim, the Jewish student organization on campus. In less than a year, she became a regular attendee and a 2022–23 pub master. She fondly remembers Kum & Go runs and card games in her friends’ dorms following a night of Pub Quiz. Alex Carlon ’25 became a 2022–23 pub master after being awarded the following week’s glorious pity pick. Like other trivia lovers, she was hooked on Pub Quiz’s fun hour of trivia and eventually became a leader of the organization.

To encourage students to leave their fun-yet-dreadful essays and practice sets, the pub masters are spicing up Pub Quiz with some new ideas. In the near future, the pub masters hope to build connections with alumni and local Grinnell townspeople to have them host a round of Pub Quiz. The pub masters are also planning a Pub Quiz Championship, where students can devote an entire Saturday to a longer, fleshed-out version of Pub Quiz. Currently, the pub masters are concocting a budget plan to provide prizes for winning teams and reward regular Pub Quiz attendees with merchandise and tables of snacks and drinks, an old Pub Quiz tradition. The pub masters are determined to bring this institutional memory back to life.

Hartog and Carlon say Pub Quiz is hard to miss. Now located in the HSSC multipurpose room, Pub Quiz is silly, low-stakes trivia fun that recharges your social battery like a ragged iPhone charger. We know Grinnell is full of students who work hard, but they definitely play hard, too.

Information for Current Students

Pub Quiz meeting times may change, but for the spring of 2023, Pub Quiz hosts a game every Wednesday from 8:30–9:30 p.m. in the multipurpose room in the HSSC (Room A1231). The current pub masters note that they are committed to diversity and listening to feedback; students can email them or direct message them on Pub Quiz’s Instagram page, @GCPubQuiz.

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