MOST WEEKNIGHTS, you can find pub trivia events in every quadrant of Portland (as well as some lucky suburbs), each with their own spin on testing your knowledge. Many have rabid fanbases, weekly teams of smarty-pants players who apparently didn't get their fill of tests in school. Indexing these myriad events has proved no easy task; after weeks of boozy research, I've barely scratched the surface of this town's vast underbelly of quiziness. But here are some highlights to get you started; now make up a quirky team name and go show the whole bar how much random, useless knowledge you possess.
It's no coincidence that Shannon Donaldson is the defending champ of the "Terrific-est TJ" award from BarFly. In six years, she has built a veritable trivia empire, hosting four weekly quizzes herself and employing six "apprentice TJs" for a total of 14 weekly competitions in the city limits, with events every day but Friday. I found ShanRock to be the friendliest host, introducing herself to each player beforehand and starting off the event by announcing all the teams. Triviology had the most rounds per game, with prizes awarded at the end by cumulative point total. But the rounds are quite varied, from pop culture to book smarts, matching and song identification. And this was the only trivia I found that included a fun physical challenge, such as blowing cards off a beer glass or shooting Nerf darts at a pinball machine. Monthly theme nights reward detailed knowledge of specific subjects (such as Indiana Jones, or Bill Murray/Harold Ramis movies), but if you don't know the subject, don't even bother. Always free to play, prizes are usually to the tune of $25 bar gift certificates and a cute little trophy, with the notable exceptions of the hefty $70 gift certificate offered at the Hutch on NE Glisan and the cash prize offered at Sewickly's, with the size of the pot determined by the number of players.
ShanRock's fiercest competition comes in the form of Roy Smallwood's Quizzy. Quizzy has been at it just as long and has just as many hosts, and possibly as many as a dozen events in a week, but that varies. At Hungry Tiger Too, enjoy the happy hour specials (on the patio if the weather's nice) while answering questions that are just tricky enough to make you feel smart for knowing the answers.
Quizissippi After Dark
Mississippi Pizza Pub's Wednesday night Quizissippi became so popular that last month they decided to add a Monday event. Following the weekly Portland Spelling Bee, host Molly dishes up two rounds of multimedia questions with "a naughty twist." Players are challenged with video clips, songs, and photo montages. Some weeks have a theme (like the '80s), some don't. It costs two dollars per person to play, but players also get a dollar off pints. Compete for Mississippi Pizza gift certificates and cold, hard cash. And with the kid-friendly Quizissippi Junior on the second Saturday of the month, the pub has all trivia bases covered.
Cort and Fatboy are household names among the geeks, nerds, and dorks of this town (and readers of this paper), and they make for extremely entertaining hosts. Next month, this too-popular semimonthly quiz moves from Vendetta to roomier all-ages digs at the Kennedy School. The subject matter here (as I'm sure you guessed from the title, brainiac) is on the geekier end of the spectrum: comic books, video-games, sci-fi franchises, and action figures. Specificity is key; scoring is all or nothing, so you better know full names if you want a shot at the goods furnished by sponsor Things from Another World. But even if you're not too keen on Battlestar Galactica or you've never heard of Skynet*, you'll likely have a good time just listening to Cort and Fatboy's banter. The questions are so humorously written they almost double as jokes, so sit back, drink a beer, and be amused.
*Incidentally, the last Geek Trivia at Vendetta happened on April 19, 2011, the day Skynet became self-aware in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.