We've been to a few trivia nights with so few people in the bar, we wondered if trivia was canceled. That is definitely not the case at Bird's Nest, where a whopping 23 teams showed up this past Tuesday to duke it out for bragging rights and a $25 gift certificate. They're obviously doing something right to draw that kind of crowd, but we probably won't ever be back.
Trivia is supposed to start at 8pm, so we got there at 7:30 and tables were already filling up with teams. Strike one: Trivia didn't actually start until 8:30. This has been a common theme among trivia nights lately and we're getting tired of all the lies. Can we all resolve to be a little more honest in 2010?
A late start wouldn't have been all that bad, because we should have had time to eat our wings (the bar boasts that Bird's Nest's chicken wings were voted the best in the city by the Chicago Tribune) and wash our hands before contaminating our answer sheet with sauce. However, Strike two: to cover 23 teams of at least 4 people, there appeared to be one cook and one waitress for the entire bar. The waitress was super nice, but really busy, and we actually didn't get our food until just before trivia started.
Bird's Nest trivia is brought to you by Whaddayaknow Team Trivia, which we sometimes like but usually hate. The format is unbearably long. If a team doesn't know Frankie Valli's birth name in 10 seconds, it won't get it by the end of "Wonderwall." And the final round doesn't need to take 30 minutes but it always does. Our team gets really grumpy after 11pm.
Whaddayknow is baseline way too long, but there are a few ways to make it a little better. (1) No banter from the host. None. If the host just reads the questions and answers and plays the song, you're still there until 10:30, which is just about our limit. If the host wants to crack wise early in the night when everyone is still into it, that's fine, but cut. it. out. after 10:45. It might have been funny earlier, but we don't want to hear it anymore. (2) Song selection. We hate the song-per-question format, but if you must adhere to that policy, pick good songs. Bird's Nest had a decent selection of alternative hits from our high school days. When in doubt, pick short songs. Oldies are really short and usually get the crowd singing and dancing. "Sweet Child O' Mine" is one of my favorite songs but if I ever hear it at team trivia I will hunt down whomever is responsible. (3) Microsoft Excel. Use it. We've been to a few trivia nights (not just this one) where the host needed an extra 10 (or 20!) minutes to figure out the scores and standings. This can be easily resolved! (4) Get a sidekick. One person reads the question while the other plugs the points into the spreadsheet (see #3). Can't afford to pay them? I bet you could find someone at the bar willing to do it for a free beer.
Our extreme distaste for the format notwithstanding, the other teams were really fun, especially the eventual winners Team JFKFC, who were rocking their team t-shirts, and Team Patty Melt, who were really nice even when they tried to cheat off of us (but it backfired when they thought we said "Ethan Hawke" instead of "Lisa Loeb.")
Specials are $2.50 Miller Lites and High Life. The winners get a $25 gift certificate and second place gets a round of shots. We won the shots, but as trivia did not end until 11:45 (Strike three!) and we had to drive home, we donated our winnings to random people sitting at the bar.
Bird's Nest trivia seems to get a lot of repeat business and tons of teams come out, so obviously many people don't share our feelings for the long format. Also, this week might have been a little busier than normal because of the holiday. But if you are like us, hate excessive downtime, and expect to get out of trivia at a reasonable hour, then you're better off going to trivia somewhere else on Tuesday nights.
- Definitely order the curly fries. Delish.
- We also like the private booths with individual TVs.
- Bad dartboard placement...watch your eyes!
- Team Patty Melt: Air Five!
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2500 N. Southport Ave., Chicago
8pm to 11:45pm
2 paws (out of 4)