How Are Trivia Players Like Rock Stars?

Trivia players are really not that much different than rock stars. Except rock stars are way cooler of course! And they (usually) use a lot more drugs!

So how are they alike? Well, first off, there’s the drama. Show me a trivia team without any drama and I’ll show you a politician who keeps ALL of his/her campaign promises. Sometimes players just don’t get along with each other, rub each other the wrong way, eventually leave the team, or the team breaks up, etc. Ideally, though, a good trivia team should have “chemistry” when they all get together for a game. Not unlike a rock group taking the stage – where each player has their “job” – singing, playing lead guitar, rhythm guitar, bass or drums – and maybe even playing a specialty instrument, like the Sousaphone.

Scratch that! You’re not going to find a Sousaphonist in most rock bands! Though I would really, really love to see someone rocking out a tuba solo on stage! #onceabandnerdalwaysabandnerd


A Sousaphone player may not be essential for a rock band, but in a marching band? It’s all about that bass (groan)! On a trivia team, it’s helpful to have a former marching band “nerd” for questions about musical instruments! A Sousaphone is a type of tuba that is designed to be worn on the body, which makes them ideal for marching bands. Traditional tubas must be carried on the shoulders.  Some Sousaphones are made of fiberglass to make them even lighter, though brass versions probably sound way better.

How else are trivia players like rock stars? Well, when all of the players in either a rock band or trivia team are performing well,  it’s a thing of beauty and a sight to behold. Queue up Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons if you want the perfect soundtrack while you are envisioning this.

Some trivia players are so awesome by themselves that they don’t need no stinkin’ team! Except maybe at tournament time when they want to hedge their bets and possibly win some prize money! And likewise, in the rock music world, there are/were plenty of great solo artists. Michael Jackson, Meat Loaf and Whitney Houston all sold more than 40 million albums (can you totally tell I’ve been studying this topic for trivia LOL)? SOMEBODY had to buy all of those Meat Loaf records! Let’s be realistic, though. Even great solo artists are only as great as the folks writing their songs, playing the accompanying instruments, producing their music, coordinating their tours, procuring their groupies/drugs, etc. (LOL)! Michael Jackson was NOBODY without Quincy Jones. The Beatles were nothin’ without their producer George Martin (more about The Beatles in a bit).


Edward Norton and Meat Loaf, and Meat Loaf’s man boobs in Fight Club.

Solo artists are awesome, but sometimes a trivia “duo” can be a force to be reckoned with as well. It could be two players who regularly play as just a duo, or they could just a “core” duo of their respective trivia team, while the others are just “supporting players.” Think about how successful Hall & Oates was as a musical duo, selling 40 million records. They were the most successful musical duo in history! Yes, they were more successful than even Simon and Garfunkel, and the pop-synth duo Erasure. Hall & Oates’ #1 singles include Rich Girl, Kiss On My List, Private Eyes, I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do), Maneater and Out of Touch. Now, are you memorizing this list in case this is a trivia question in the future?



Behind every great man is an even better woman? Daryl Hall’s longtime girlfriend Sara Allen was credited with helping write some of Hall & Oates’ biggest hit singles. She was also the subject of their 1976 #4 single Sara Smile. Daryl Hall (left) and Sara Allen (right).

Let’s talk about another popular musical “duo,” shall we? This “duo” was actually part of a group, but are also best known for being the primary songwriters for their respective group. Whom else but John Lennon and Paul McCartney? Sure, both of them had successful solo careers after The Beatles broke up, but (IMHO) their power was never greater than when they worked together as a songwriting duo, with both of them writing both the lyrics and music for the songs for which they are credited (neither man was strictly a “lyricist” or “composer”).


Paul McCartney and John Lennon

There are other great musical “duos” that were components of their respective groups, too! Robert Plant and Jimmy Page were also known for being songwriting partners for Led Zeppelin, but they were not as well known for this nor as prolific as Lennon/McCartney. Like Lennon/McCartney, however, both were greater than the sum of their parts. They were just better…together. Burgers/fries, peanut butter/jelly, fish/chips, bacon/eggs (you get the drift).  In the Page/Plant duo, Page was the composer, and Plant was the lyricist.


Robert Plant and Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin.

An even lesser-known songwriting duo from the 1980s was Morrissey and Johnny Marr from the alternative British band The Smiths. To me, The Smiths were notable for having a guitar-driven sound when the synthesizers were pretty much all of the rage. Nobody…but nobody had a voice quite like Morrisey. And as a lyricist/songwriter, Morrissey really was the BALLS! With Johnny Marr backing him on guitar…oh man!


Some Smiths’ lyrics I turned into a Peanuts meme, from the song Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now.

Which brings me to my point. Yesterday, I was talking to a trivia player/friend whom I’ve known for several years. I described his and another player on his team’s partnership in trivia as being akin to “Lennon/McCartney” in that they are stronger when they play together than they are as individual players. I meant every word of it! Even just as a duo these guys can do some serious damage! I’ve seen them win entire trivia seasons at a bar as a duo, win trivia tournament spots as a duo, and win countless trivia games as a duo.  When they assemble their “supporting” players for tournaments and other trivia games, they can really bring the noise! As individual players, they are very good, too…

I could only dream of having such a great trivia “partner!” My husband, Mike, and I do “pretty well” together as a duo, but we’re definitely not a “Lennon/McCartney” duo by any means. We do better as a duo in the MTL league than Sporcle Live league, and have held down a hometown bar by ourselves for a couple of seasons now.

I’ve also managed some successful “duets” with others on my team, too! Brad and I won a $10/second place prize at Corner Brewery a few years ago. Dave and I have won some prizes as a duo at Original Gravity. Evan and I have won some prizes as a duo at Oscar’s. Kimberly and I have won some “Name that Tune” games as a duo together, too.


Walter Matthau as Oscar Madison and Jack Lemmon as Felix Unger in The Odd Couple. I remember nearly having a heart attack a while back when my husband asked me who Neil Simon was! Uh…”Ever see that movie Biloxi Blues?” 

Sigh. I may not have a “Lennon” or “McCartney” trivia partner…but I’ll settle for a “Rodgers” or “Hammerstein,” or maybe a “Lloyd-Webber” or “Rice!” No? Then how about “Scarecrow” or “Mrs. King?” “Oscar Madison” or “Felix Unger?” I want to be the “Oscar Madison!” 🙂



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