January 12, 2010

The best tool shed in Boston

In promoting the Big Quiz Thing's first Boston event (January 28!), I've run into a thorny predicament. The press seems receptive (we have a shot at some love from The Boston Phoenix), but as I try to use the newfangled Facespaces and Twittups to reach out to Beantown trivia hounds, I've been getting a particular brand of push-back, to the effect of, "Why would I pay to play trivia?"

Trivia is a somewhat bigger deal in Boston than here. Actually, scratch that—it's defiantly not a big deal there, it's just a more familiar presence in the hum of city life. There's a company called Stump Trivia that presents quiz events at many bars in the metropolitan Boston area, one of which I attended once, and it kind of sucked. Regardless, more than in NYC, everyone seems to know about "bar trivia," and everyone seems to assume Stump is the basic model: some guy on a microphone reading moderately interesting questions in a boilerplate Irish bar. No video, very little audio, no shiny jacket. And no cover charge.

All well and good. The city, I figured, is primed to experience something on a higher level. But habits are tough to break, especially when you're asking for a little money. Someone on Yelp, in referring to my show, said, "He's charging for trivia? What a tool shed." Which confuses me—is a "tool shed" the same as a "tool" (i.e., one who is used by others)? Aren't I the opposite of a tool if, according to this guy, I'm getting people to pay me for something that is usually given away for free? Or maybe being a tool shed means that my event is the ideal venue for tools, which I guess is more logically consistent with his apparent opinion. (Either way, I later discovered this guy is himself a Stump host. Ha ha.)

I've run into this quandary before. My usual reply is, you get what you pay for. You probably wouldn't hesitate to pay, say, $15 to see a great rock band at a good club, even though some guy is playing guitar at the bar down the street from you for nothing (and the rock band doesn't even give you a chance to win back your cover charge). Standard bar trivia nights can be great fun—one of the best nights of my life involved winning a quiz at an Irish pub, followed by making out with a teammate—but I think we provide a lot more. Besides, we've proved it for years in New York, where we consistently outdraw the various free quiz events.

So here's my task for you, BQT fans: Think of your pals/associates/Facebook friends in the Boston area. No doubt, some of them have the trivia bug, or at least an appreciation for quality live entertainment. Forward them this link, and let them know it's worth every penny. Once we've conquered the globe, you can have a warm feeling knowing it was partially—and vitally—thanks to you.