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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Pub quiz is risky quizness at Grinnell

From left: Pub masters George Matthes `25 and Anne Mester `26 bring personal interests and quirky questions to weekly Pub quiz events. (Addie Persian)

The phrase “fish treats” may cause confusion at first glance — except on a Wednesday night at Pub Quiz. Pub masters Clara Bode `26, George Matthes `25 and Anne Mester `26 make up phrases that somewhat rhyme with ‘switch sheets’ to remind quizzers to check their trivia answers with other teams.  

These pub masters call the shots even though the event is held in the Humanities and Social Sciences Center (HSSC) instead of an actual pub. The name Pub Quiz comes from the event’s past meeting place — Lyle’s Pub in the basement of the Joe Rosenfield `25 Center (JRC).   

Though Pub Quiz has moved beyond its original location, the current pub masters still take inspiration from past pub masters who hosted trivia there. They have left the trivia format largely the same — seven rounds with ten questions apiece. The current events, song, picture, pity pick and guest rounds return every week.  

The topic of the pity pick round is chosen by the losing team on a given night of Pub Quiz for the following week’s event.  

Bode, Matthes and Mester are familiar with the styles of previous pub masters due to their long time attendance of Pub Quiz. The three befriended each other at the event when they joined their teams together and soon became friends with previous pub masters. These relationships sparked their interest in becoming pub masters themselves.  

“We like to borrow their concepts and turn them into our own thing,” Matthes said.  

He said that he and the other pub masters try to put their own spin on the narration and humor of the trivia presentation. New this semester, the pub masters offer prizes for each week’s winners — prizes that they fund out of pocket. Despite their status as a student organization, the pub masters said that they don’t know how much funding they have because last semester’s pub masters set the budget for the academic year.   

As new pub masters this semester, Bode, Matthes and Mester are also navigating the joys and challenges of writing trivia questions.  

“I have really weird interests, and that’s what I go off of,” Mester said. “I think of it as a challenge.” 

 “I think of a funny concept, pun or line,” Matthes said of his inspiration behind many of his trivia questions.  

 Mester and Matthes agreed that sometimes the questions they write end up being harder than they expected. For the most part, they try to include an even distribution of easy, medium and hard questions in each round.  

 Currently abroad, Bode wrote about her challenges writing the current events category in an email to The Scarlet and Black. 

 “It can be hard to choose what news to write about because we want Pub Quiz to be fun and lighthearted but don’t want to ignore or gloss over more serious issues,” Bode wrote. 

 Matthes added, “It’s not just trivia — we want it to be kind of tongue-in-cheek. We try to find topics that are appealing to some people.”  

 To generate these topics, the pub masters involve students in the trivia creation process. They invite student and academic organizations to host guest categories every week. 

 “Our ethos is generally to find groups that haven’t done it before or haven’t done it for a long time,” Mester said. She and Matthes said that their dream is to get a professor to guest host a category.  

 The pub masters prioritize feedback from attendees to further tailor their trivia to the student body. “If anyone has an idea of what they want to see, we could do it,” Mester said.  

 By involving students in every stage of the trivia process, all three pub masters said that Pub Quiz creates an enduring community within Grinnell. 

 “It is a great place for friends to reconnect,” Mester said.  

 “A real sense of community is fostered within and between teams,” Bode wrote. “No other event on campus brings such a large and diverse group together so regularly.”  

 Matthes added that Pub Quiz is tradition for many people — this is true of the team members of How Many Rats. They had the most points at Pub Quiz on Feb. 28 and earned a collection of postcards from Pennsylvania.  

 “I took Advanced Placement (AP) Art History in high school and it finally paid off,” Ashley Pacheco `24 of team How Many Rats said.  

 “It’s kind of fun to accumulate random knowledge and see what else your friends know,” Matt Wedzina `24 added.  

 As fourth years, the team said that they value making memories through Pub Quiz.  

 “I hope people leave Pub Quiz each week excited to come back the next and that we as pub masters increase their excitement and enjoyment,” Bode wrote.

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About the Contributor
Addie Persian, Staff Writer
Addie is a first year from a town smaller than Grinnell (yes, it’s possible) in the middle of Minnesota. She enjoys playing tennis, shopping, eating sour candy, and going to the casino; all of which are definitely not an addiction… She is intending to major in psychology and/or political science and loves to write both scientifically and journalistically.
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