Wow. We really wanted to love Hidden Shamrock's Thursday night trivia. Trivia host Robert personally reached out to us and said all the right things to get us to the first trivia night of the new Autumn season. Robert is a genuine trivia lover (he played for 3 1/2 years before hosting his own night), he's an independent host (he's read our meh reviews about some of the bigger trivia companies in town), and he tries really hard to come up with new and exciting trivia rounds and wants to make trivia a great experience for everyone. Robert's heart is undeniable. Unfortunately, I think his superenthusiasm might actually work to his detriment, as trivia night at Hidden Shamrock did not live up to our expectations.
Trivia does have its good points. Robert really drew us in by sending us a sample of his weekly trivia wrap-ups. You can tell he works really hard on these. Each one is formatted like a newsletter, with a cute recap of the week's events and a handy table for keeping track of the season's point totals (points are accumulated throughout each season, and the overall winning team gets around $250 in cash. (Congrats to the summer winners "Girls with Low Self-Esteem," who got a plaque or their name on a plaque or something, which I'll admit is kind of awesome.) Also nice is that all trivia teams get half-priced appetizers before trivia starts (between 7pm and 8pm). In addition to the half-priced appetizers, other Wednesday specials include $5 off pizzas, $3 Jamo shots, $3 Dos Equis, $3 Newcastle, and $1 domestic drafts (Miller Lite or Coors Light...No Bud Light!)
When you walk into the back room, Robert will give your team a half-sheet, front and back, of very detailed rules and instructions for trivia. And they are strict. Need to use your phone? Don't even take it out of your pocket until you've turned in your answer sheet. Have to use the bathroom? Better hold it until your answer sheet is turned in. If you leave for any reason during a round, you are not allowed to return to your team until the round is over. It can get rough! Especially with dollar beers freely flowing!
Throughout the night, there are random chances to win extra points. He asked some really random question about our dream house or something and if you answered at all, then you got a point. You can submit a joke of the week, and if he reads it you get a point. If you have the best team name, you get a point. You get the picture.
In addition to sending us a sample newsletter, he also emailed a survey to try to improve the trivia night: "What do you think of double-point questions? Would you pay a cover charge for a chance to win more money? If you used to come and stopped, why did you stop?" If you answer the survey, you get a point. Seems like a decent way to get feedback. Right?
Wrong. Because apparently he sends these surveys every week, and every week he changes the format just enough that things get all messed up. Based on past survey results, Robert included two "Supersizer" questions in each round--you can choose to double the points on two questions on each round, but if you Supersize a question and get it wrong, then you lose double points. Seems like a nice twist on the traditional double-point "Joker" rounds. But you know what happens when each team can gain or lose double points on too many questions during each round? Advanced Mathematics. And what happens when the host has to do too much math without this dude as a sidekick? The night draaaaaags until after 11pm and Cate & Sasha get grumpy. In what may be a first, we had to leave the trivia night around 10:45pm with a round of trivia left to go and no clue what our score was. We don't mind staying out late playing trivia. We do mind staying out late drinking gross beer, having to pee, and wishing that people would grade faster.
I didn't even mention the failed audio round (the result of yet another survey question).
The theme of the night was (cryptically) "Hope Springs Eternal in the Human Breast." So, the rounds were (1) Hope: all of the answers had the word "Hope" or something to do with hope, (2) Springs: match the former territory, etc. with the country from which it "sprung," like the Philippines sprung from the United States--woot woot!, (4) Eternal: all the answers contained a synonym of Eternal (e.g., Forever, Immortal), (5) Human Breast: a picture round where we identified famous chests, (5) mystery round: figure out the theme and the answers will be easy--last week it was "Breakfast", and (6) triple-point final round. As I said, we left before the final round. Most of the rounds were actually really good. The questions were a good mix of trivia that only trivia-lovers know and questions that you could figure out. There was just too much time between rounds for scoring. If the night hadn't gone on for so long, I think we would have enjoyed it a lot more. If you like staying out late on Thursday night, you might want to check it out.
Trivia at Hidden Shamrock definitely has a few regular teams, including a team of actuaries who apparently don't mind staying up late for trivia and getting up early to go to work. We're glad for that. Robert is so obviously passionate about running this trivia night, we're really happy that people enjoy it enough to return every week. We just won't join them.
2723 N. Halsted, Chicago
8pm to 11pm+
2 paws (out of 4)