ARTICLE: It’s Jimmy Carr’s Quiz & We’re Just Living in It



You either know me or you really know me, and if you fall into the latter camp, you’ll already know that I love three things: British humour, a stiff drink, and a good pub quiz. There’s nothing quite better than the weekly ritual of meeting up with your mates to tie one on and best a team of Boomers that thought they had it in the bag. (Yeah, you know the feeling.) Most often, trivia night is the event by which I set my weekly clock, and the battery I use to recharge for the week ahead. My main incentive for pub quiz patronage (besides the companionship and the beer) is the chance to put all that random, seemingly useless knowledge to use week after week. It feels good to get out and stretch the ol’ sea legs and flex some savoir faire, and it feels even better when you’re able to unearth some long-forgotten smarts to dominate in an otherwise foreign category (for me, it’s sports or geography). And even when my team doesn’t win (which happens more often than not), I’m still content knowing that I held my critical thinking skills to the whetstone whilst wetting my whistle. But to whom do I owe this pub quiz pleasure?


Legend has it that pub quizzes originated in the 70’s in the south of England thanks to a company called Burns and Porter. The idea was to get people into the pub on lesser frequented nights of the week, and Sharon Burns and Tom Porter had just the ticket. In 1976, their first year in operation, the pair managed 32 different pub quiz teams that participated in three different leagues. Over time, their management extended to over 10,000 different teams participating in any given league once a week. In a competition sponsored by British Telecom PLC, their company was awarded the most efficient business in southern England in 1986, and by 1988 they were sold to Prism Leisure Corporation PLC. But by that point, pub quizzes were here to stay. While a long-beloved mainstay in Brit culture, pub quizzes migrated over to the U.S. in the past two decades, and have now staked their claim in American bar culture as well. While it can be argued that there are anywhere between six and eight surefire signs of an intelligent civilization, it goes without saying that a good pub quiz has finally cracked that list (or maybe it’s a surefire sign of gentrification?)...