Some Trivial Pursuits

area taverns develop interactive trivia nights

Aryn Widule, photos by Andrea Paulseth |

There are times in a person’s life when, in the middle of a perfectly informative conversation, someone brings up the 1981 movie Sharky’s Machine. You immediately recall that it was directed by Burt Reynolds (who also played the part of Tom Sharky). Then, almost unconsciously, you remember that Vittorio Gassman played a part in the film. Then you wonder why you have such a hard time remembering your girlfriend’s birthday. The bad news is that everyone picks up useless, random facts and trivia. The good news is that there are a handful of places around the Chippewa Valley that reward you for it with prizes and a great time.

Many people are familiar with Buzztime trivia, a sort of computerized Jeopardy where you can play using television sets while you wait for your food or drinks. In Eau Claire the Northwoods Brewpub and Buffalo Wild Wings, along with Club 10 in Durand, offer this service for the casual triviaster. However, for those more serious about showing off the treasure trove of inane facts they’ve accumulated about pop culture, there are places around the Valley that offer dedicated trivia nights hosted by flesh-and-blood people that come complete with prizes and a variety of game styles.

I spoke at length with Nick Arnold, an accomplished Karaoke MC and head honcho at the Wigwam Tavern’s Thursday night trivia. Nick runs one of the most involved and entertaining trivia events in town, and it was immediately apparent that he was really into his role as trivia master.

“I try to make it more of an event, as opposed to something you might just do while waiting for your food,” he said. “You can get a group of friends together, go out, have a few drinks, and have some fun. You can make a night of it.”

    Nick said he tries to make it less about trivia and more about people. He writes his own questions, which allows him to include current events and keep things from getting stale. “The questions aren’t all ‘who was the home run leader in 1993.’ Most people don’t think of trivia night as being boisterous and crazy,” he adds, “but we’ll have people yelling and jumping around, winning prizes, and having a good time.”

Just in case you were wondering, prizes at the ‘Wam range from free drinks and suction dart guns, to a homemade ‘Super Awesome Trophy Award’ for the winning team. Between each round there are mini games including Family Feud, $10,000 Pyramid, and the ever-popular Dirty Pictionary. The crowds are always growing, with team signup and sign-making starting around eight, and questions starting around 8:30 pm.

TGI Friday’s has trivia on Tuesday and Friday. Tuesday nights come complete with an 80s theme and subsequent music. The event is MC’d by one of the bartenders, who is dressed to kill in an old school Friday’s uniform. There are three rounds of five questions with the winner receiving a $25 gift certificate. For those terrified of the 1980s, Friday is pretty much the same setup minus the chronological theme. Both nights get rolling around nine.

Eisold’s Irvine Bar in Chippewa holds their own version on Thursdays and Saturdays. They also rock the 80s theme and if you come correct (in costume), you get a free drink. People go head-to-head in between the music, and prizes range from drink tickets to t-shirts. All in all there are chances to flex those memory muscles most nights of the week, so get out there and remind your friends that obscure movie facts can still get you somewhere in life.