Out & About: Penn & pub quiz

Sofa Kingdom

WHAT: Call it trivia, call it quizzo, or call it a pub quiz, the game combines a test of knowledge with a taste for tavern fare. Teams answer questions about everything from athletics to ancient history in rounds that get more and more challenging. They play for bragging rights and for nominal prizes that often include free drinks.

PHILLY ROOTS: The history of American quizzo cannot be found in any book, but serious players agree it made its way across the Atlantic Ocean from Ireland in 1992, imported by a man named Pat Hines. Hines served as the first quizmaster of the New World at New Deck Tavern, located across the street from Penn Law. New Deck continues the tradition (without Hines, however) every Wednesday at 10 p.m.

PENN CONNECTION: From its inception, quizzo has appealed to folks at Penn. The competitive nature of students, staff, and faculty alike, plus the fact that the Philadelphia region is crawling with students from other colleges, has helped make Philly the nation’s quizzo mecca, according to David Birtwell, a Penn staffer who produced a documentary on quizzo titled “The Legend of Sofa Kingdom.”

THE MOVIE: Birtwell, informatics core director at the Perelman School of Medicine, says he came up with the idea to make the documentary after listening to his co-worker, Nate DiGiorgio, brag that his quizzo team, called Sofa Kingdom, was the best in the city. “One day,” explains Birtwell, “Nate said, ‘Somebody should make a movie about us,’ so I did.” 

THE PLOT: The movie follows the four members of Sofa Kingdom—DiGiorgio and Penn alumni Eric Swanson, Ryan Crocetto and Jason Garbowski—as they win their way back to the Quizzo Bowl championship to defend their crown. Most of the competition occurs at The Bards Irish pub, 2013 Walnut St., where cut-throat quizzo happens every Thursday at 10:15 p.m.
 
THE PRODUCERS: Birtwell, who had never made a movie before, asked his friends Sarah Richendollar and Steve Kearney to help out as co-producers. Kearney manned the camera. Richendollar conducted the interviews.

YOUR TURN: There’s a quizzo game near campus almost every night of the week: Sundays at 9 p.m. at Local 44, 4333 Spruce St.; Tuesdays at 9 p.m. at Sláinte, 3000 Market St., and at 10 p.m. at The Blarney Stone, 3939 Sansom St., and City Tap House, 3925 Walnut St.; Wednesdays at 10 p.m. at New Deck Tavern, 3408 Sansom St., and Thursdays at 9 p.m. at Mikey’s American Grill & Sports Bar, 3180 Chestnut St.

EARLY BIRD QUIZZO: The Penn Museum offers after-work quizzo beginning at 5 p.m. every second Wednesday of the month in the Museum’s Pepper Mill Café. Teams of eight or fewer are invited to compete. The event is free for PennCard holders. To learn more or let the Museum know a large group is attending, contact the Museum Events Office in advance at events@pennmuseum.org.

Originally published on January 19, 2012