Geek historians trace the roots of ritualized trivia back to the earliest Greeks themselves. In ancient Athens, Socrates was said to have gathered his disciples in open air symposiums, stumping Plato and Simon the Shoemaker with mega-tough questions: What was the first written phrase?
Duh. Τήβεννος κόμμα Toga Party!
While not quite a toga party, Simon the Shoemaker’s descendents, Geeks Who Drink, can be found playing high stakes and high spirited pub trivia on Thursday nights at Buta Pub, and other evenings at other venues.
Pretty high stakes. You can win a GWD shirt.
On the two times I was at ButaPub(and once at Jeremiah’s), the joints — especially Buta Pub — were jammed.
Although not exclusively, the crowd was mostly in their mid-to-late 20s. While definitely post college, there is the flavor of the coffee shops and tables in Rush Rhees Library, RIT’s Wally Javas or Nazareth’s Shults Center. These were the kids on the Debate Team, the school newspaper or pulling all nighters making robotics stuff.
But, while the teams are in it to win, there’s plenty of laughter (and tippling). The bottom feeders, points-wise, seem to be racking up the biggest bar tab. And for some the evening continues down the road at Lux.
Most nights playing Socrates is Jake Kwiatkowski. Jake graduated from Nazareth with a double major in philosophy and history. So, for Jake bringing wisdom and beer to the masses comes naturally. Jakes does more than give the correct answers. He provides generous dollops of intellectual and nerdy humor and repartee.
It’s energizing to see these gatherings of Rochester’s “creative class.” The people we hope will move inside the Inner Loop and make Rochester their permanent home. Living the dream as a geekmeister and South Wedge resident, Jake has no plans to leave anytime soon, if ever.
As for how Jake found himself on this stage, he offers us a glimpse of his geeky life story:
I was working my day job at Barnes & Noble when my phone rang. It was my boss from my night job, Geeks Who Drink. I was confused as to why the boss wanted to talk to me.“Hello?”
“Hey, Jake. It’s John.”
“Hey, John. What’s up?”
“Well I’m in need of another full-timer out East and your name came up. You work at Barnes & Noble, right?”
“Yea? I’m here now.”
“Cool. Well how would you feel about quitting that and working for me full-time?”
“Oh, yea. Did I say yes? Because I meant to say yes.”
Until this point I had been working as a quizmaster for Geeks Who Drink for over two years. Hosting local pub quiz at Jeremiah’s Tavern, ButaPub, and Lovin’ Cup for a time. I loved hosting but I wanted to do more, I wanted Geeks Who Drink to be my life.
And when that phone call came through I could barely contain my excitement. I put in my two weeks and so began the best thing to happen to me in recent memory; my transition to working full time for the company I loved.
Geeks Who Drink is the first company I’ve worked for that feels like family, like I belong. And this is not just the people I work with, but the quizzers and bar staff that I interact with weekly. It is a pleasure to go to “work” every day and I thank the stars that I’ve been given this opportunity.
Everyone’s a Geek in some way if they’d like to admit it or not. And Geeks Who Drink brings us all together once a week in a local haunt to celebrate the fact that we’re all just a little weird. Oh, and we drink quite a bit while we do it.
Stepping into my venues each week to see the same teams returning, the same bartender who knows what I like to drink, the same servers that have become my friends, I feel like I’m stepping into the family living room and not a bar. I feel at home and comfortable and I strive to make everyone at my quiz feel the same way. There is nothing to fear, we are geeks, we quiz, we drink, we quiz again.
To be able to share this sense of camaraderie and geekdom is my dream come true. Growing up in a time when it was still not that cool to be a Geek, the times have changed and now we celebrate our quirks and limitless knowledge of Star Trek episodes instead of hiding it beneath the surface.
Beyond hosting quiz personally, the opportunity given to me to spread this lifestyle throughout my hometown and my lifeblood, Rochester, is incredibly rewarding. I’ve lived in this city my entire life and nowhere else feels like home. To bring this geeky cult to my fellows, to give the geeks a place to congregate and celebrate in the city I love so much, it is a truly wonderful thing.
So if you’re a Trekkie like me, enjoy drinking while geeking like me, join us. The geeks of Rochesterhave become a family and we welcome you with open arms.
So come by yourself for a multiply stimulating evening. Be there and be square (as geeks from my era might say).
ALSO ON THE SOUTH WEDGE