Trivia Kings at Kitty O’Shea’s: Add a Little Quirk to Your Quiz

Kitty OSheas Sign

After last month’s successful foray into the trivia world with District Trivia Wednesdays at Public Tenley, I decided to venture across Wisconsin Avenue for Trivia Kings’ Tuesday evening competition at Kitty O’Shea’s.

With a smaller venue, Kitty O’Shea’s trivia night has a more authentic pub quiz feel than its counterpart across the street. However, the simplicity of the décor belies the complexity of Trivia King’s multi-round quiz set up, which seemed daunting at first – what with their trademarked names, wagering system, and full page guide with the helpful header that reads “If you have no clue what’s going on you might want to read this.”

Fortunately for my team, our host Corey was on hand to explain the rules and guide players through each round. His friendly demeanor, self-deprecating sense of humor, and sonorous voice are perfect for this hosting gig, and an asset to the trivia night experience. Clearly he’s doing something right – Kitty O’Shea’s was packed with nearly every patron taking part in the competition. 

In the absence of Corey, I’ll try to break down the structure for you. Trivia Kings has three periods of three rounds each, plus a final question for a total of 10 rounds. Each period consists of one round of the typical trivia questions, often with a theme, a worksheet round that might have pictures or music to identify, and a round with three questions on which players get to wager three, six, or nine points. When wagering, the teams get to hear the question before deciding the wager, so if you are absolutely certain you know the answer you would wager nine points, leaving the three and six point wagers for subsequent questions. Teams do not lose points for incorrect questions in the wager rounds. For the final round, teams can wager up to 20 points on a single question. Get the question right, and your team gains points, but this time if you get it wrong, you lose the points.  Teams know the category but not the question when making a wager. Got it? No? Then, visit the Trivia Kings website for their handy tutorial guide.

Trivia Kings’ sense of humor in creating its quiz themes is likely a draw for quiz competitors, as much as the host or venue. Last week there were three rounds devoted to the 1980s television show Saved by the Bell. Let me tell you, I never thought I’d utter the statement, “It’s quiz night. Tell me everything you know about Saved by the Bell.” And I’m certain it will be the only time in my life that I will be kicking myself for not watching Lifetime’s unauthorized Saved by the Bell movie.

While the Saved by the Bell theme was delightfully quirky, Trivia Kings showed a twisted sense of humor when it devoted an entire round to Iceland – and didn’t do players the courtesy of including Björk as an answer. You know you are in trouble when the host can’t even pronounce the questions, and gives allowances for phonetic spelling of answers.

Nordic-themed round aside, Trivia Kings seems particularly inviting to the trivia novice or casual player – once your eyes uncross from reading the rules. Unlike other local trivia organizers, Trivia Kings divides the year into four seasons and starts fresh each quarter. On the night we competed, just over half of the teams were repeat competitors, leaving lots of room for newcomers to make their mark or get their feet wet before the next quarter begins on October 1. Players are allowed to create large teams, but prizes only go to those who form teams of 6 people or fewer, which contributes to the traditional pub quiz vibe.

Do keep an eye out for the regulars, though. The Susan B. Anthonies, who surprisingly didn’t have a single woman on their team, are veteran players who know the ins and outs of trivia night and they clearly do their homework. How else could they have put up nearly perfect scores on the Saved by the Bell rounds? No one is that big a fan of the show – seriously, no one.

The Susan B. Anthonies currently top the leader board with 1,130 points. They are closely followed by another seasoned team, Herpetologists, who have earned 988 points so far this season and outpace the next competitors by a solid 341 points. Otherwise, though, the standings among teams are fairly close.

In general, quiz night at Kitty O’Shea’s was a fun experience. The structure of the quiz is a bit too complicated with too many iterations, making the evening drag toward the end, but the host, unexpected questions, and neighborhood atmosphere at the Irish pub make up for it. For a Tuesday night out on the town, it’s definitely worth trying your hand at trivia.

One final bit of advice – dress in layers, the room can become a bit of a sauna with the crowd, and Kitty O’Shea’s air-conditioning isn’t quite up to the task of combatting the hot air of trivia players.

Kitty O’Shea’s is located at 4624 Wisconsin Avenue, NW. Trivia Kings’ game night is every Tuesday starting at 8:00 p.m. Want to know about the food at Kitty O’Shea’s? Check out our past restaurant reviews here.