Stroll into Clementine Cafe any Tuesday night around 9 p.m. and you’ll find two JMU alumni perched on stage, drinking beer and cracking jokes, sheltered behind their bright laptop screens.
Mike Hughes (’08) and Erik Pitzer (’07) have been co-hosting trivia at Clementine since October 2013.
“It’s about breaking up the monotony of a Tuesday with a fun night out downtown,” Pitzer said.
Pitzer’s trivia roots were conceived during his 4-year residency in New York City, where he says he “caught the trivia bug.”
Hughes came from attending the weekly trivia at Luigi’s, an old stapled pizza joint, which used to occupy the space across from Billy Jack’s on S. Main St.
“I talk about it ad nauseum because it was so much fun to play trivia there,” he said.
Hughes delicately places a Sweetwater Brewing Company sticker on his Macbook Pro as Pitzer criticizes the placement. Hughes’ laptop is already laden with brewery decals from previous trivia nights.
“We just try to hit every genre that people are into,” Pitzer said. “You don’t want people to show up to trivia and not have a hand in any question.”
Sweetwater, a Georgia beer giant, is the sponsor on this night. The regional sales representative walks onstage and presents Pitzer and Hughes with a box full of merchandise to award contestants throughout the night.
At its heart, trivia is a simple Tuesday night in the ‘Burg. Every round is filled with audience rebuttal, something the hosts adapt well to, interjecting their own cast or snide remarks.
“We just wanted to be a fun time,” Pitzer said. “We didn’t want to be dicks, maybe if it’s funny sometimes. We want to have fun and we want everyone else to have fun and keep coming back.”
This weekly spectacle of random knowledge and alcohol consumption has been sponsored by local and regional breweries for the past six months.
The Hughes and Pitzer partnership brings even more folks on a Tuesday night to enjoy $2.50 select drafts from the week’s sponsoring brewery.
The two keep a very active dialogue on G-Chat throughout their week discussing potential questions and repurposing any trivia content they consume on a daily basis.
The questions come from no specific land, just a continuum of at-work communication and research.
“Anywhere you can think of,” Hughes said, speaking of the origins of questions. “The corners of the earth.”
Minutes before the clock strikes 9, the two are relaxed and midway through their first Sweetwater 4:20, the select draft of the night.
“Like who’s on the nickel,” Hughes suggested as a possible question. “There’s going to be a lot of people that forget.”
“It’s all about igniting a discussion, Hughes said. “You can turn an entire crowd off with the first question.”
They proceed to explain their thought process for the opening question, which is always in a “this day in history” format. This night happened to be the anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination.
The murderer? Easy. The location? Easy. The murderer’s occupation? Perfect.
“Eat Locals,” “I’m not into sailing, but I love to motorboat” and “My couch pulls out, but I don’t” are instant team name gems that come to Hughes’ mind.
There will be one winner and a slew of losers by the end of the night. There’s nothing hard about this weekly gig for Pitzer and Hughes, they just hope to avoid “questions people bitch about.”