Part T of the April A-Z Blogging Challenge, where every day this month except Sundays, I'll be talking about things I love - one thing for each letter of the alphabet.
I guess for me it all started when I was doing my short-lived podcast. After the relative success of the two that Russell and I had recorded (and the two subsequent failures we recorded after that), we decided to bring in two more local comedians and do it as a weekly thing. One of them - Bridie - mentioned that she'd gotten a job as a weekly pub trivia host through a company called Quiz Meisters. I was working as a door-to-door salesperson at the time and was of course hating it. And since I had dreams of becoming a famous stand-up comedian, so I thought that the idea of having regular paid work in a performance area like that was very cool.
Months later, by some astonishing stroke of luck, I was on Seek (a job hunting website) for the first time in I don't know how many years and I stumbled across an ad from Quiz Meisters. They were announcing auditions for new hosts. They wanted applicants to turn up, talk for a minute about themselves and then read out some questions that they would provide. I contacted Bridie for advice and the main thing she gave me was "Be yourself. If you try too hard to be funny or witty, they'll see through that. They'll like you more if you just be yourself." That turned out to be the best advice she could give. In an audition group that was quite large and of a pretty high standard, they decided to bring me and two other people on board the team. At the time there was only one pub available to host. The plan was to put one of us into that pub and the other two would act as subs if they or any of the other hosts were unavailable on a particular week. The girl from our group of three that got given the available pub was let go after one week. Something about coming to the show completely unprepared. So they gave the pub to the other guy in our group. He's still there now and they love him. Me... well, I was stuck as a substitute for a whole year. There was one period of three months where I filled in as the host at the Barker Hotel while the regular host travelled through South America. But after those three months, he was given his pub back and I was back to being the occasional substitute.
I forget what the circumstances were that surrounded it, but eventually, The Barker needed a new host to take over permanently. At the time, I had just finished my first season of football umpiring and I could see a real future in it. Unfortunately, training nights were on the same night as the quiz. I took over the pub with the understanding that when the new season started up again in five months time, they may have to look for a new host again. Those five months passed and I fell in love with hosting the show. I had to make a decision - I loved quiz hosting and umpiring equally. Should I stick with hosting, which paid more but had no progression? Or go back to umpiring, which paid barely anything now but which had a very promising and lucrative career path? In the end, I made it work perfectly. I stuck with the quiz nights on Thursdays. I found a new umpiring panel that trained on Wednesdays instead. And since this new panel had an abundance of umpires and the old one was struggling for numbers, both of them were happy for me to train at the new one while only doing games for the old one (which incidentally was MUCH closer to my house). All three parties benefited from the arrangement and I was free to continue pursuing both of these things that I loved.
At this time, the Barker quiz had the lowest attendance of any Quiz Meisters venue in South Australia. The state leader blamed it mainly on the lack of a truly permanent host - it had changed maybe four or five times in the first couple of years. For a long time, I would turn up to the pub and have to worry if we'd even get the minimum 15 people required for the game to go ahead. A couple of times we didn't reach that number, so the pub dropped the value of the prizes to allow us to keep going. But it was always a struggle making the night fun when there was a lingering feeling in the air of "No one else wanted to come tonight." But over the course of time, two things happened. First, just like our state leader had predicted, having the same host week in, week out meant that I was able to forge relationships with the people that came. They'd come regularly, then another team would play and decide to start coming regularly, then another. We'd lose one along the way, then we'd gain another one down the track. Secondly, trivia as a whole exploded in South Australia. I only really noticed it last year, when I realised that all the pubs in which you could play free poker were replacing their poker nights with trivia nights. Our small team of Quiz Meisters pubs had grown from about five pubs to over 15. Now, it gives me a huge amount of joy to walk into the room in which I host my show and find a bunch of regulars already there eating dinner. By the time the show starts, we will have had to grab tables from other rooms to accommodate all the players. It's now the pride and joy of my working life.
But that's not where it ends. Early this year, I was contacted on Facebook by a man who runs a competing company in SA called QuizzaMe. He'd heard through a mutual friend that I hosted quiz nights and was in need of someone to start hosting for him. After talking it over with Quiz Meisters, they agreed to let me work for him as well. At first he was only offering a show that happened on Saturday nights. But then a show on Tuesday nights became available and he put me onto that as well. Very quickly, he realised he liked me so much that he convinced a third venue to move their show from Thursdays to Mondays so I could do that as well. Now I'm working as a quiz host four nights a week and I couldn't be happier.
I've hosted a couple of private quiz nights. People have heard about me through friends and relatives and hired me to host their fundraisers. Late last year marked the first time that I had to write a while quiz myself. I felt I did a really good job and that I got the balance of difficulty of the questions pretty well right. I think that's where my interest in trivia finally became a fully-fledged love. I spent a long time researching to write new questions in case I ever had to write my own quiz again. And when the game show The Chase came to Australia, I made every effort to watch all the episodes either as they aired or on the internet afterwards. I can beat all of my non-trivia-going friends in trivia games, some by a lot, some by a little. It's going to be a huge part of my life for a while.