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Elliot Eastwick’s World Famous Pub Quiz

Sean Smith talks to the host about the art of getting a cheap, dirty laugh

Published on June 4th 2009.

Elliot Eastwick’s World Famous Pub Quiz

Aside from the now-obligatory free jukebox, free wi-fi and gourmet sausage and mash, one of the main attractions of the bar in Chorlton run by Electric Chair stalwarts the Unabombers is the Tuesday night quiz – but Elliot Eastwick’s World Famous Pub Quiz is unlike any you’ve ever experienced.

Eastwick has an unusual attitude towards cheating for a start:

“I don’t mind it,” he says over a coffee in the Lead Station. “I couldn’t care less. I’m not winning anything. If you’re gonna cheat, that’s alright. But if I catch you, you’re disqualified. You’re out. So then people go to the toilets to cheat, but that’s part of the pub quiz, isn’t it? That’s what you do. You stand in the toilet and ring people who know the answers.”

Ruined by the ubiquity of internet-enabled mobile phones, the Great British Pub Quiz has been given a new lease of life by the resolutely-unprofessional former Yellow and Hard Times resident DJ who, besides having snorted poppers with Kate Moss (according to The Sun), also has the distinction of having played the very last record at the Hacienda.

The quiz began life a decade ago as a way of entertaining people at a launch party for an album on Paper Recordings, the label Eastwick ran with partners Miles Hollway and Peter Jenkinson (and which brought talents as varied as Royksopp and Crazy Penis to the world’s attention).

The trio hired the top room of the Briton’s Protection and Eastwick volunteered to write “a traditional northern jokey pub quiz”. Admitting, unnecessarily, that he’s “alright at showing off”, the bike-building, Thai-boxing motormouth was also the clear choice of host.

The format of Eastwick’s often caustic commentary combined with increasingly ludicrous questions and ill-advised challenges – identifying acid house classics gargled through a mouthful of beer, for example – struck a chord and over the years the quiz has taken him everywhere from the Snowbombing festival in the French Alps to the Guardian fashion section’s Christmas party. But it’s not for the faint-hearted.

And I’m not just talking about the extreme ‘Outsider art’ of the picture round hand-out.

How much of the stuff you say at the quiz is genuine misanthropy and how much is just you getting drunk?

“I don’t know,” shrugs Eastwick. “Good question. I really don’t know. It’s an easy way of entertaining people. It’s the Bernard Manning school of entertainment – not making racist jokes, going for the cheap laugh. But I’m not talented enough to get an expensive laugh. I’m not skilled enough in the art of comedy, so if it’s a cheap laugh, I’ll go for it.

“Somebody walked out the other week,” he adds, clearly unconcerned. “There have been times where I thought I’d better rein it in a bit, but that’s partly why people come. They wouldn’t admit to it – they wouldn’t say, oh yeah, we go down because he makes jokes about necrophiliacs – but that’s part of it.”

At the end of each quiz, he says, he always asks the audience to choose the subject of next week’s speciality round.

“So you go through them – Olympic swimmers of the Seventies, toys and games, or celebrity paedophiles. Obviously it’s a loaded question – and as soon as you say the out-of-order one, everyone in the audience goes 'yeeeeeaaahh!'

“I don’t choose the subject of the speciality rounds, the audiences do.”

In a ‘career’ which has included stand-up comedy, making films for Urbis, and presenting on Granada TV and commercial radio, as well as (once he got over his fear of flying), DJing around the world, the quiz has been the one constant, the one thing which never got boring. And indeed, one year when the club scene’s rapid shrinkage meant his DJing bookings dried up, the quiz was Eastwick’s one means of paying the bills.

“I realised that I could take it where I wanted,” he remembers. “I just thought, I can do what I want here. There are no rules. So if I want to tell a really out-of-order joke, or if I want to say something that’s really close to the bone, that is funny but probably offensive, I can do it.”

He admits that, if anything, his patter is becoming more extreme, especially since he stepped up his involvement with 96.2FM The Revolution, where he is one of the very few original Revolution DJs who didn’t walk or get sacked after Steve Penk’s buy-out last year. Eastwick has been rewarded with the prestigious drive-time slot and his appointment as head of music.

“Everything I can’t say on radio, I say at the quiz,” he explains. “That’s why people like it, they get drunk, they get involved, sometimes they laugh at stuff they perhaps they shouldn’t be laughing at.”

While he admits that Revolution’s focus is a little more mainstream than his own tastes, Eastwick sees his future firmly in radio – though he has no plans to curtail the World Famous Quiz just yet.

“I’m not going to stop doing the quiz, no matter what happens with the radio,” he says with some finality. “But I might tone it down a bit.”

Elliot Eastwick’s World Famous Pub Quiz, every Tuesday at Electrik, 559 Wilbraham Road, Chorlton

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eddy rheadJune 4th 2009.

"And now .....our very own serial killer"

CassonJune 4th 2009.

depeche mode = hurried fashion or fashion dispatch

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