Every Monday I don ladies flower print tights, a sparkly waistcoat, a fez and a Charlie Chaplin moustache and go into pubs across Sheffield. This isn’t because of some fetish or mad shaman ritual (although in many ways it is), but to host a pub quiz.
The quiz in question is Quizarama-rama – a ramshackle evening of nonsense questions, parlour games, crafty club endeavours and charity shop boutique effects. It’s a sort of Crystal Maze on crystal meth, Blue Peter for excluded kids, or Robot Wars without the robots. In essence it’s a quiz for folk who don’t like quizzes, an attempt to stretch out what can be done with the humble pub quiz. Turning it into a spectacle that makes people take off their spectacles and rub their eyes in disbelief.
This was my hope. It’s also a great excuse to wear tights. When I think about it, the number of people over the years who have consciously or unconsciously seen more than my full veg shop through those lycra stretchies would make Ron Jeremy blush.
Not that it is a blue show. If anything it’s a part of my childhood being re-enacted to a group of strangers. The sort of pretend show you would perform in front of your teddies but here I perform in front of adults and my teddies and puppets take up prominent supporting roles.
Some people think it takes balls to do this sort of thing, but as they can see from the silhouette of my tights this isn’t the case. It’s more that I take a sort of impish delight in knowing that Keith – a pub regular of twenty years – is completely baffled at the sight of a grown man holding a stuffed lion and pretending it can talk.
This fires me up. Although what I mainly enjoy is just seeing adults playing, forgetting they have serious jobs that involve emails, photocopying and coffee runs, and instead completing equally absurd tasks like rolling lemons or sucking on Polos or making a Cupid costume from newspaper and sellotape and singing a made up country’s national anthem.
It’s a pleasure to see adults doing something silly because we don’t often get the chance to. Being silly is empowering. It turns its nose up and sticks its tongue out to embarrassment; the most pernicious form of state control. Where you allow another’s opinions of yourself to creep in and take providence over your own. Sabotaging your own sense of fun and self-worth. It’s a vile and ugly thing: embarrassment.
So, if dressing like an idiot and putting on voices helps others to embrace their inner idiots then all the better. For me, I don’t want to put on a quiz where someone can show off how smart they are and then make other people feel stupid. I want one where everyone feels stupid and embraces it. To show that success can be very random and that you can win a quiz by just having fun, letting go and rolling a few lemons.
Quizarama-rama takes place on Mondays at The Cremorne from 9pm.
Words by Stan Skinny