Trivia becomes a full-time gig for this quizmaster

“You gotta get a gimmick,” according to a famous song. 

Southampton resident Paul Johnson definitely found his gimmick — or niche —once he began hosting weekly trivia nights in the barroom at Townline BBQ in Sagaponack. Over the last decade, Mr. Johnson’s trivia nights — which featured a range of categories so wide that anyone could participate and stand a chance of winning — gradually became so popular that other venues starting hiring him for their own trivia nights. Mr. Johnson’s brand of accessible and fun trivia eventually gained enough of a following that he was able to leave his day job and start Think Inc. Trivia, offering his quizmaster services to venues across the East End, including the North Fork.

“After the pandemic, everyone was itching to get out and do something,” Mr. Johnson said. Peconic County Brewing Company in Riverhead reached out first, followed by other venues on the South Fork, and Mr. Johnson soon found himself a full-time quizmaster. “It got to the point where I was like, ‘I should probably formalize this and start a business.’ For the name, I had a few iterations, but I asked my much smarter friends for their suggestions and one of them came up with the name Think Inc.”

For a self-proclaimed “quizmaster-in-chief,” Mr. Johnson admits he’s “terrible at trivia. What I am good at is putting together nights that I think people will enjoy and trying to make them as varied as possible. If I’m asking questions that are all sports-related, that kind of dissuades anyone else who might be interested in coming again. My job is to ensure people come back. The way I’ve found that easier is to make it fun [rather than] challenging. My goal is for everyone to enjoy themselves.”

Each Think Inc. Trivia night follows Mr. Johnson’s tried-and-tested formula. There are six rounds in total, with three rounds of questions. One round will be general knowledge questions, one focuses on current events and one is on a specific topic. There are then two activity rounds, such as “identify the monument” or “identify the board game,” followed by a final “audio round,” where participants need to identify theme songs, movie clips, instruments, languages and more.

“The purpose is not necessarily to cater to the Ken Jennings who are coming for trivia night, but to make sure everyone feels like they’re included,” he said.

Mr. Johnson, who was previously director of marketing at the Children’s Museum of the East End in Bridgehampton, was able to make Think Inc. Trivia his full-time job through weekly events at various establishments, as well as private events. 

“Right now, I’m just grateful that it’s worked out. It’s allowed me the freedom and luxury to spend a lot of time at home with my family, which is the biggest benefit that I see,” he said.

Although he doesn’t consider himself good at trivia, his love for the activity goes back to high school. 

“There was this girl that I was dating, and ‘Jeopardy’ always came on twice. I would always watch the first episode, then the second episode, I would make sure to watch with her because it was a repeat of the one I just watched,” he said with a laugh. “She thought I was the smartest person ever! There’s no reason for a 15-year-old to know some of the things I did. People find intelligence attractive, I guess!”

Mr. Johnson currently does regular trivia nights at Peconic County Brewing and recently started at the Ram’s Head Inn on Shelter Island. He’s in preliminary talks to expand into more North Fork venues in the fall.

“The trivia nights I put together are for everyone,” Mr. Johnson said. “Even people who don’t necessarily like trivia. They enjoy getting together with friends, being challenged and having a good time.”

For a full list of where to find Think Inc. Trivia nights, visit