Bar Trivia: Think before you drink

ERIN ADLER | Updated 8/17/2012

Q: What brainy trend is overtaking local bars? A: Pub trivia.

"A good question must be somewhat amusing, and it must give you knowledge," he added.

Ian Rans, host of the cable-access show "Drinking With Ian" (and a dead ringer for the love child of Conan O'Brien and his ex-sidekick Andy Richter), previously ran a punk karaoke night and now spends his Sunday nights leading trivia at Pizza Lucé in the Warehouse District. Rans often measures potential questions by his response to them. "If it taxes me to think about it, it's probably a good question," he said.

Rans' questions require players to recall everything from "Diff'rent Strokes" to disgraced politicians, he said. He is also known to insert "Feats of Strength" into his repertoire -- physical challenges that require players to, say, hold the same pose for as long as possible.

"It seems like there is something happening then, instead of people staring off into space, drinking a beer," Rans said.

Of course, what a player considers common knowledge depends on one's age and interests. Merlins Rest player Daniel Glass, 23, notes that when he visited the Leaning Tower of Pizza, the questions were "generationally biased," while Nomad youngster Peter Kirschman, 22, found Memory Lanes' musical questions a bit too hard. "They play a song, and it's like, I don't know the difference between Styx and Journey," he said.

But then, not everyone is a black hole of random information, the kind of person cut out to host their own trivia night, right? That would require a special kind of mind.

Maybe not.

"I'm horrible at trivia," Cosgrove admitted.

He's not the only one.

"The really dark secret about [331 hosts] Chuck and Sean," said Sean's brother, writer/musician Steve McPherson, "is that they're not very good at trivia."