Why Pop Culture is Great for Trivia Events

When people find out that I own a trivia company, they immediately assume I am a trivia guru, and pepper me with all sorts of arcane queries. This may come as a surprise, but I am absolutely terrible at trivia- ESPECIALLY pop culture trivia; I may be good at writing trivia questions and hosting trivia events, but when it comes to playing Trivial Pursuit, watching Jeopardy! or answering trivia questions on the spot, I’m pretty much worthless.

A big reason for this is that I don’t have a passion for pop culture; I have zero interest in who’s dancing with the stars or the next apprentice, what Lady Gaga’s wearing or who’s hosting SNL. An even bigger reason – and this may shock you – is that I don’t even have a TV. How on Earth, you may wonder, can I possibly work in TRIVIA when I don’t like pop culture- let alone watch television?

Simple- I know that people who play trivia love pop culture. So that’s what I give them.

The ultimate goal of a trivia event – be it a simple pub quiz, team building activity or a major corporate branding event – is for the participants to have fun. And you know what? People LOVE pop culture, in all of its forms. They consume it both actively and passively, and with a voracious appetite. Websites like TMZ and Perez Hilton, reality TV, celebrity gossip- you name it, people are into it.

But why include it in trivia events? Aren’t trivia event enthusiasts primarily smart, educated professionals who have better things to do with their time than follow the Charlie Sheen saga? Well, yes- and no. As I said, people are rabid consumers of pop culture, and my assumption is that it provides an escape from the staid professional worlds in which many of us exist. Does a group of lawyers really want to file briefs for 12 hours, then go to a trivia team building event and be asked about torts? Do investment bankers who spend 16 hours a day trading want to go to a pub quiz and be asked about derivatives? No way- they want to be asked about Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan and the Balloon Boy!

Pop culture is a guilty pleasure, which most people are happy to engage in- and even obsess over. In addition to being extremely timely, it’s also a terrific diversion from the predictable types of questions people expect to be asked at a trivia event- facts, figures and a whole lot of stuff from AP classes (there are, of course- but there’s tons of pop culture, too). It is for just this reason that the recent addition of Pat Kiernan, former host of VH1’s “World Series of Pop Culture” as TrivWorks’ “Special Host” is so exciting, and has been received so well – especially in the events industry.


I may not personally be interested in following pop culture, but for the sake of my audiences who are, I dive in regularly. Even without a TV, I’m all over the Internet news sites, Twitter, Facebook and anything else I can to see what’s hot right now. It’s a personal sacrifice I’m more than willing to make to ensure that our clients are happy.

What are your thoughts on the role of pop culture in trivia events?

Leave a Comment