So Long, “Quizmaster of Georgia Avenue”
Dalton Hirshorn has run the pub quiz at Park View's Looking Glass Lounge for about as long as the bar has existed. His trivia night has been praised by the Washington Post, by readers of Washington City Paper, and even by a budding pub-quiz magnate looking to expand his barroom footprint. So Hirshorn, the self-proclaimed "Quizmaster of Georgia Avenue," had no compunction about getting "a little indulgent" last night during his final pub quiz in the District before he moves to New Orleans.
For the audio round, Hirshorn played only AC/DC songs. And the quiz's "mystery person"—about whom he sprinkled clues throughout the night—was, well, himself. At one point, Looking Glass staff dimmed the lights, put on "For Those About to Rock," and revealed a sheet cake featuring Hirshorn's face.
Most of the pub quiz's regulars were there, "and we had some people who used to come a few years back," Hirshorn says. Team names included "First Katrina, Now This?" and "Hurricane Dalton to Take Louisiana Preteens by Storm."
"I sort of felt like I was breaking up with 70 people," Hirshorn says.
Each week, Hirshorn hosts the Looking Glass quiz as well as one at Glover Park's Breadsoda. In a 2011 cover story on the corporatization of pub quizzes, I wrote about what makes Hirshorn's independent trivia night so successful:
He’s been running the Looking Glass quiz for about three years, after coming aboard when the bar changed owners and names (it used to be Temperance Hall). “A friend was a bartender there,” he says, “and she asked me if I wanted to do it, because—and I believe these were her words—‘you know a lot of useless shit and you enjoy being the center of attention. Which is the perfect combination.’”
Tall, goofy-looking, and theatrical, Hirshorn heckles and is frequently heckled. His style is idiosyncratic and digressive and not necessarily high-brow (a recent Arnold Schwarzenegger round was a bouquet of spot-on impersonations), but he never overwhelms the quiz. “It’s not really about you if you’re the host,” Hirshorn says. “You’re an MC; you’re not really the star. Alex Trebek knows it’s not really about him.”
That view hasn't changed. Hirshorn's quiz has been successful because "I remember the main part of my job is creating a fun environment," he says. "And that’s a really wonderful, satisfying thing to do." He's moving for law school, and hopes to become a trial lawyer. In fact, he thinks the necessary skill set has a lot of overlap with a quizmaster's. "You have to be quick on your feet, charming, succinct, able to get a point across," he says.
Hirshorn wants to keep hosting quizzes in New Orleans, though he doesn't have anything lined up yet, other than playing a friend's favorite quiz next week. "Once I get settled I'll see what’s up," he says. "I'll see what the trivia night scene is like down there."
Photo courtesy Dalton Hirshorn