Choosing a TrivWorks Emcee: Who’s Best for YOUR Event? game show hosts

So you’ve decided to go with TrivWorks to produce your company game show entertainment or trivia team building event – excellent! It’s going to be a laugh-filled, raucous affair, fully engaging and completely customized to your specific group and goals.

There’s just one more decision to make: who will the emcee be?

This is a decision you and I shall be making together, and it’s an important one. The person leading the contest is probably the single-most important factor determining whether the event will be a success or not. You can have the most fantastic trivia questions written, a perfect venue, stellar sound system and enthusiastic crowd – but without the right host, someone with the proper experience and chops, the event will be a dud.

As I’ve written about previously here on the blog, I am very selective about who I choose to work with as trivia game show hosts to lead my events. When you hire TrivWorks, you are entrusting me to deliver not only an experience which is incredibly fun and customized, but also highly professional, smooth and polished as well. As such, I can only hire people whom I trust fully to represent me and my brand at your event – and who, in turn, you can trust in front of YOUR colleagues, clients, or attendees.

One of the things which makes my company unique is that I offer not only unparalleled expertise running corporate trivia events, NYC to Los Angeles, but I also have a range of experiences I can offer beyond the standard team competition. This includes format options, such as integrating minute-to-win-it games, head-to-head bouts, karaoke, a DJ and more, as well as customization options, ranging from minimally to fully-tailored experiences. But I also offer a range of hosts, which I think is the most exciting offer of all.

Probably the first question I get when a client is ready to book a gig is, “who will be my emcee?” If they’ve got a flexible budget, they might also ask, “which emcee should I use?” or “is one emcee better than another?” I’d like to use this post to provide a thorough overview of the various emcee offerings I have available, to help clarify not only how they are assigned, but to help you choose the right one for your company party event entertainment or live trivia game show.

Corporate Emcees

Over the past few years, I’ve identified and recruited some truly amazing and talented hosts to lead events. Each is a seasoned professional emcee, who brings years of specifically corporate experience to bear. Why? Because I am entrusting them to represent TrivWorks – to represent ME – in front of my clients, and to deliver the experience I’ve promised based on the brand I’ve built. I cannot and will not entrust something so important to someone who is untested or unskilled in corporate entertaining, or who’s experience hosting trivia is limited to running the local pub quiz down the street.

As such, you can rest assured that whichever emcee I send to lead your event will be somebody I trust implicitly; I would put any one of them in front of ANY audience, from ANY industry, in a heartbeat. But who exactly will you be getting for YOUR event – and how do I decide that? When I assign my standard hosts to events (by “standard” I mean not one of my “Special Talent” emcees, who I will get into in just a moment), I do so based on several factors.

When new gigs gets booked, the first factor to consider when assigning a trivia emcee to lead corporate events is availability. The folks I work with are incredibly busy and in-demand with other industry functions, and they do tend to book up quickly; they also have lives, meaning they travel, have families, etc. So my first question when assigning the host is to look around and say, “who’s available?”

Once I’ve got a grasp of who COULD do the event – again, not a matter of skill or ability, but simply availability – I then think about who SHOULD do it.

As always, I’ve got the client experience front and center in my mind when making decisions such as this. Some of the game show corporate trivia hosts I work with have more experience than others with certain types of audiences, events or formats, and I want to ensure that I am putting the person who would be the most appropriate match possible in that room. While any one of my people can lead any of my events, I also look at each case individually, and think: who would be the BEST person to assign to this gig? Who would be the right fit for this group based on:

  • Personality type
  • Experience in front of this exact type of audience
  • Audience demographics
  • Audience size

Because maintaining and building strong relationships with my hosts is everything, I then think: which one would benefit the most from hosting this event? Who would have the most to gain, either professionally or personally? Factors I consider here include:

  • Interest – Who would absolutely LOVE an event like this?
  • Exposure – Who would really appreciate being in front of this audience?
  • Experience – Is this an opportunity for a host to learn or practice something?

Once all of these factors are taken into consideration – availability, fit with the client/event, and growth opportunity for the emcee – I then make a decision, and the emcee is assigned.

Very rarely, a client using one of my standard hosts will want to choose which one will lead their event. I am loathe to do this; I carefully match the emcee to the event based on the criteria above. I’ve been doing this for a long time, and have a vested interest in putting the most appropriate person I have in front of each individual audience. If you tell me you want somebody who has X, Y or Z, I will then assign accordingly.

However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you get to review my emcee roster and make a selection, like you’re reviewing menu items in a restaurant. I may have the perfect emcee in mind for your event, but if you’re making a superficial choice based on the headshot and brief bio I provide, that’s not necessarily going to be the best fit. I’ll accommodate when I can, however you should probably just trust me to do what I’ve been doing for so many years (and what basically all of my other clients do), and let me choose your emcee for you.

Celebrity Comedian

I am honored to work with two extremely well-known professional comedians as “Special Talent” to lead my trivia game shows: Christian Finnegan (VH1’s Best Week Ever, Comedy Central’s Chappelle’s Show), and Ophira Eisenberg (NPR’s Ask Me Another). Christian and I have been collaborating for 3-4 years now, and I am thrilled to have just announced a partnership with Ophira this past spring.

What’s so special about bringing one of these emcees in to lead your event? Things like:

  • Adding celebrity “buzz” to the room
  • Option of a brief stand-up comedy set to kick the event off
  • They’re HILARIOUS, as you can probably assume
  • They’re corporate-friendly

When should you go with Christian or Ophira, rather than one of my standard hosts? If your event calls for something EXTREMELY special, where having a celebrity comedian would add a significant level of excitement or impact. Or an event where the audience can be a bit…raucous; these two pros have decades of experience each working comedy clubs in New York City, they can no doubt handle any rambunctious audience. They are also ideal if your audience knows them well, and would be particularly responsive to having them in the room. There’s also of course budget to consider, as like all of my “Special Talent” emcees, the celebrity comedians have their own separate performance fees which must be built in.


I’ve been working with illusionist Ryan Oakes for quite some time now, producing a truly unique experience like no other where we combine a fully-customized team trivia competition, with a mind-blowing illusion/mentalism show. Ryan is absolutely phenomenal, and always has been (we actually went to high school together) – what does he bring to the table?

  • Kickoff full-room illusion to start things on the right foot
  • Illusions in between full-room trivia rounds, while score sheets are graded
  • A culminating “grand finale” illusion which must be seen to be believed
  • Availability for “roving” close-up magic before and/or after the event

When should a client opt to have Ryan lead the gig? When they’re looking for something REALLY special; if the audience is both competitive, and enjoys a good show. Is Ryan a good fit for every gig? I wouldn’t put him in front of a loud or obnoxious crowd seeking a “bar trivia” experience, since his is a more discerning form of entertainment – you’d want him if your audience can be boisterous, but also can sit still and enjoy the show. Also, budget is a factor – Ryan’s one of the most in-demand company party entertainers working today, and his rates are priced accordingly.

Trivia Guru

Last year, I forged a partnership with Gene Jones, “America’s Trivia Guy.” Gene is a truly special, one-of-a-kind entertainer; with over 30 years of experience, he has a photographic memory, and can instantly recall trivia questions about ANY category, spontaneously and in real-time (trust me, this is a VERY hard thing to do).

Gene has developed a proven format which combines “roving” entertainment and a set stage show. In addition to having a warm and charming personality, he’s got a fantastic demeanor which makes him well-suited in front of any group, be it entertaining a law firm partner retreat or a private birthday party. You should consider Gene for your event if you’re looking for a unique twist on the team trivia experience, or if you’ve done game shows in the past and want to try something new. He really is special, you won’t find another emcee like him.

Pat Kiernan

Pat is the “Special Talent” emcee I’ve collaborated with for the longest, and whom I have done the most with. The longtime NY1 morning news anchor (20 years, if you can believe it) is not only a constant presence in the NYC media, but is also known nationally for having hosted game shows like VH1’s The World Series of Pop Culture.

For clients looking to truly “wow” their audiences, Pat brings the whole package:

  • Local celebrity “buzz”
  • TV game show feel
  • Fantastic dry, deadpan humor
  • Game show-style “showdown” grand finale

Without fail, every single event Pat and I have done together has been a smash success – but the ones where he’s been particularly well-received have been New York-based audiences, young, media-savvy, maybe a little nerdy, and into pop culture. He’s truly amazing, and brings something absolutely unique to the mix (which you can read more about by following this link) – however, all of this comes with a price, and Pat’s fee isn’t cheap. If you want the best experience I can offer and have the right budget, a corporate team trivia contest game show hosted by Pat is something your audience won’t EVER forget!

For an interview I conducted with Pat about corporate game show hosting, visit

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