“What 1993 Oscar-winning actor made his debut in ‘A Bronx Tale’?” Christian Jones, a large, happy man with a goatee, bellows over a crowd of trivia participants on the third floor of Tonic Restaurant on a Monday night.
What would normally be a deafening roar of 50 people chatting over drinks and food suddenly becomes a low rumble, as teams huddle to discuss the answer to the question.
Silence falls over the crowd as the teams soon realize no one knows the answer.
“Robert De Niro!” Jones yells moments later, his voice easily carrying over the cheers and boos of the crowd.
Every Monday night, students and community members flock to Tonic to participate in trivia night. Although the prize is not huge – $50 to be split among team members, and a round of shots – having an easily accessible place on campus to hang out with friends and the chance to have bragging rights are what really count.
Glenn Sleasman, a 2009 GW graduate and a member of the current trivia night title holders, The Hippo Dictators – a team, incidentally, that is composed mostly of former Hatchet staffers – says going to trivia night is a good thing to do on Monday nights.
“It’s really fun… [the teams] are all good at trivia and we watch the shows. We enjoy coming to eat and drink beer,” Sleasman says.
Jones is the ringleader for the night. He delivers questions and determines who is right, and who is wrong.
“If there are doubts about answers… I’m Michael Jackson and you all are Tito, so whatever I say goes,” Jones says before the game starts. “I am Obama and all of you are McCain. You will do what I say.”
Jones, a Tonic manager and host of trivia night, says the restaurant started hosting trivia night because of a demand for activities.
“We hold [trivia] because we are summoned to. A lot of the student body comes on Mondays because it’s a night to do something fun, but not too crazy,” he says.
Jones says trivia is one of their most successful events. Most nights, he says, the third floor is at capacity with around eight to 13 teams participating.
Teams range in size from two to more than 10 members and have names such as Dinosaurs Aren’t Real, Awesome Posse, Mr. Banana Grabber and Little Lebowski Urban Achievers.
The game is composed of eight rounds, including two lightning rounds. Each round has five questions made up by Tonic staff that range from pop culture, to Native American words, to trigonometry. Every trivia night, Jones makes sure to assure the participants he is not in control of what questions are asked.
“I am just a monkey in a suit – a very good-looking monkey in a suit – who reads the questions,” he says. “I do not come up with the questions… The questions magically appear when I get here.”
Tonic attracts students to the event with discounts on beer and bar favorites. Backpacks are flung carelessly in corners, signaling that the workday is over and it’s time to relax and play a game of trivia.