Q: When did Saskatoon begin its love affair with pub trivia?

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Trivia-related trivia: “the inventors of Trivial Pursuit are Canadian. So is our man Alex Trebek”

It was only a scant few years ago when Saskatoon pubs, taverns, bars and cantinas were a scene where people would get together to drink and grumble a few motley sentences. Sure, the odd touring band would occasionally come through and interrupt this hazy serenity for a few hours. But for the most part, bar socializing was limited to the chatter of TV sport jocks, doomed first dates and the clatter of pool balls lurching into one another.

And then pub trivia happened in Saskatoon and saved us all.

In the past couple of years pub trivia has grown in popularity, overshadowing other boozy events such as arm-wrestling, frenetic arguing and “quarters”. In fact, several establishments have since made trivia a semi-regular event.

Mark Ferguson, a regular host, says he is pleased with the surge of trivia-related events in Saskatoon.

“There is a very good group of trivia hosts in this town now, and we all like to ‘poach’ ideas off one another, in a mildly friendly and competitive way of course,” says Ferguson, who also puts in time with his band The Bad Decisions

Ferguson started hosting trivia nights with his friend Andy Sargent as a fundraiser for the Diabetes Association because there were few places to play in Saskatoon. Since then trivia has grown so much popularity, says Ferguson, that he can’t even make it to half of the games.

While the rules of each venue vary the format is more or less the same: form a team, show up on time, listen carefully and don’t blurt out the answers. The questions vary, with the best ones being about sex, of course. Everyone can appreciate a good saucy wringer. Also, booze helps the entire process, we are told.

Who knew?

Trivia bottle cap 2

We aren’t going to list them all off here, but there is currently a wide variety of venues for trivia in Saskatoon, including this one, so happy hunting.

Having hosted our own trivia match during the first OMFEST, Ominocity decided to grill Ferguson on how to properly throw a trivia party, on being a “Trivia Master”, and why you might not want to ask “ironic” questions:

Ominocity: So are you considered a “trivia master” or is there an official name for the person who leads it?

Mark Ferguson: I’m not going to argue with that title. I mean, you don’t need credentials to be a dungeon master, so I guess knowing a bunch of normally-useless-facts qualifies us as “Trivia Masters”.

OM: So do you have a take on why trivia seemingly suddenly took off in Saskatoon, or was it something that was always just simmering in the drunken underbelly of the city?

MF: I don’t think Saskatonians had much exposure to pub trivia, so it was only a matter of time before it would take off. I’ve lived in other cities and trivia was always on my radar, but in Saskatoon there was nowhere to play. I think once the first couple trivia nights started happening, the appetite was suddenly there and this city started to realize “hey, all those hours I spent watching old Simpsons episodes might just pay off one day!” In the form of a $50 bar tab.

OM: Ha, awesome answer. Where did you first become aware of pub trivia?

MF: I used to play a regular Sunday-night trivia in Summerside, Prince Edward Island. It was definitely the place to be and brought out a great hodge-podge of humans from around the area and the questions were always tough.

OM: So here’s the real question: As the trivia master, how do you craft your questions? Is there an easy-to-hard ratio that you follow? A theme? Etc.?

MF: My pal Chris Smith and I agree on this as our trivia-writing format: pick a category (like sex positions or one-hit-wonderfuls for example) and use that as a starting point for your questions. Then, try and hit as many different categories as you can: geography, literature, condiments, science fiction, etc. For example, Doggie-Style: According to Esquire magazine, what breed of dog do Americans most associate themselves with? Ironic, considering they euthanize 3,000 of them per day… That might not be ironic though. More just sad.

OM: Anything else to add that needs to be said? A question about trivia that needs to be asked and answered?

MF: I think trivia is a great equalizer and keeps us asking the right questions. I’ve never played on a team where someone didn’t contribute to at least one correct answer, and it’s always a fun, no matter where you play in this town. I’ve met a lot of good friends and I have a lot of people coming to ask for help for their own trivia night/fundraisers/parties/etc. I think that’s a huge benefit to our nightlife in this town! Trivia nights are meant to be fun and I think all the trivia nights in Saskatoon have a rad fun factor. Heck, you might even learn something…

OM: Any trivia-related trivia to include?

MF: Yes: the inventors of Trivial Pursuit are Canadian. So is our man Alex Trebek.

– All images via Flickr user “raeallen”: Creative Commons