September 22 - Regulars at the popular trivia events in Cottage Grove may have noticed Elliot Martinez behind the mic. He is the evening trivia jockey at the Covered Bridge Brewery on Thursday nights. But, on Saturday, Sept. 17, he and his co-hosts, Chad Kushuba and Emily West, amused a “studio” audience in the beer garden with “Game Show,” where contestants at tables could compete by guessing and answering questions in a bid to win cash and multiple prizes.
Martinez, 43 years old, always had a knack for entertaining. In the 5th grade, he recalled hosting a trivia game called “Around the World in 80 Minutes” at school, where participants were stuck on continents until they could answer several geography questions correctly. Martinez saw it as a failure when kids struggled with answers. On the other hand, it fed his creative and social interest by crafting a live game.
Between 2008-09, Martinez was laid off after years of steadily working 75 hours a week. Suddenly idle, he took his savings and began a tongue-in-cheek, arts and entertainment style magazine called “Booze Week,” which caught the attention of friend and subscriber, Nate Sampson, now the Award-winning brewmaster at Covered Bridge Brewery. They stayed in touch through the years.
Around 2011, while hosting a weekly Eugene campus radio show with Kushuba called “Thirsty Thursdays” on KWVA 88.1 FM, a friend, Mike Copland approached Martinez to take over trivia hosting duties at the Eugene coffee shop, 16 Tons. Martinez saw an opportunity for fun so he took it on. At first, he used the established trivia game and then modified it so he could write his own. Martinez was now very much occupied creatively with a weekly radio show and a trivia hosting gig.
West, a local musician who was a guest on the “Thirsty Thursday” show, went on to marry Martinez and became part of the show as a drummer with Kushuba as guitarist. The Elliot Martinez Show, known as “Eugene’s Only Late-Night Talk Show,” was then created with a nod to broadcasting legends' banter, gags and guests. Its creation inspired that of “Game Show,” which began as a pub game event and fundraiser at Blairally Vintage Arcade in Eugene, became a fundraising hit, and was later brought to Szechuan Chinese Restaurant in Cottage Grove in 2015.
Game Show’s design is an amalgamation of beloved game show traits such as quirky music and sound effects, played by Kushuba, and game keeping cues and scores tallied by West. Martinez is the humorous master of ceremonies, dressed in a single-breasted suit. Teams sit at tables with dry erase boards and are given a numerical value question. The team that gets the correct answer first, or is closest without going over, gets an opportunity to spin a wheel for a chance to play a game, earn points and receive prizes. In a few instances, points and prizes can also be taken away.
But ultimately, everyone wins with the fun challenges. At the spin of the wheel of fortune, you could earn a prize, spin again, go bankrupt, or play Game Show — in which case, spinning stops and the contestant can play one of 10, game-show style challenges. Among the tests is “Dice Game,” by rolling a large pair of dice and eliminating number values like “Shut the Box.” “Higher or Lower” is a giant playing card game, with the contestant guessing whether the next card will be higher or lower than the one shown. And “Zip Codes,” aimed at guessing the postal code to four similar sounding Oregon cities.
The partnership Martinez formed with the proprietors of the Covered Bridge Brewery endured through COVID. They had originally planned to host Game show much sooner at the Brewery but conditions deemed it difficult. Trivia continued to become manageable outdoors until restrictions loosened to bring the event back indoors. And through the last couple of years, Martinez has continued hosting trivia at the Brewery, with the partnership of Clyde Miller. Together, they work together under Quality Trivia, Miller as a behind the scenes contributor and Martinez serves as host for their in-person and virtual games online.
Chrissy Chapman, founder and CEO of Covered Bridge Brewery, expresses enthusiasm to continue using the Brewery as a venue for Game Show, which showed promise in its return to Cottage Grove on Saturday with several full tables of teams ready to play.
Earlier this summer, Martinez gave back to those that support him and his family at his multiple game events in Cottage Grove and Eugene, known to him as his “legacy teams” — quiz game diehards — at his backyard in Eugene and also used it as an opportunity to fundraise.
Come on down to Quality Time Trivia with Elliot Martinez at the Covered Bridge Brewery, 926 East Main St., on Thursdays from 6 to 8 p.m. Game Show will “be back in two and two” so stay tuned for more at the Brewery’s event page online or on Facebook.