School is the only place where quizzes are unpopular.  It must be the presentation.  If someone is flipping through a magazine, quizzes are the first parts to be read.  Who doesn’t want to find out what kind of mate they attract or if they have a winning personality?  Online, the endless quizzes to determine what sort of breakfast cereal you would be, which character from slasher films you most resemble (I’m Chucky, obviously) or what town in North Carolina you should move to never diminish in their appeal.  The grand poohbah of all quizzes?  The trivia contest.  No high school marching band has a breakfast cereal quiz fund raiser.  But team trivia contests can bring in the enough bucks to purchase three new uniforms and a couple of those big orange coolers.

One-shot trivia games that stroke your ego by telling you that you scored higher than 99 percent of all other humans or that you must have several PhDs are great, but part of you has to suspect the grading scale is tilted in your direction.  The online live games don’t stroke your ego or anything else.  At the end of the day, you’ll be searching for ways to cheat.  You will most certainly lose most of the time.

So, the question is which is most fun to lose:  HQ or Cash Show?

The Skinny:  Both games consist of 12 questions, and you have 10 seconds to answer each.  Both games start pretty easy and leap to impossible around half to three-quarters of the way in.  Both games have rounds near the end of the workday and at night (or lunch time and right after work on the West Coast).  Both give you the chance to share in the cash prizes (big prize split between the number of those who make it through the rounds).  Both are played by thousands of bots.  How else could you explain 10000 contestants choosing “tweeting” or “napping” as an aerobic exercise or more than 20000 choosing Frodger or Agamemnon as Mr. Rogers first name?  Yes, both are remarkably similar in terms of their set-up.

The Hosts:  HQ features Scott Rogowski:  imagine Chandler Bing on meth delivering an explosion of pop culture allusions with triple irony.  When he’s taking a break, the other hosts just ask the questions.  I have to hand it to them for not trying to imitate Scott.  Can’t be done.  He has a smooth delivery, tons of fresh material, and happy shiny clothes.  Cash Show has a guy who’s name I always forget (Rafael?), and now a sidekick (Beau), and the good news is that a lot of the time they are pre-recorded.  They don’t try to compete with “personality.”  This is good, because the host is like your cornball uncle MCing a wedding–really bad jokes and a Dangerfield tie tug for emphasis.  If Rogowski is the red carpet host; Rafael is the Men’s Wearhouse host.  Round One:  HQ is  more fun to lose if for no other reason than you can keep track of all the different expressions Scott has for money:  2000 Robert Dineros, 2000 Oscar De La Hojas, 2000 Jim Dandys, etc.  I’m certain there must be a complete listing somewhere on the dark web.  Besides, the Cash Show hosts can make you miss the first question of the contest, since they must be muted to be endured.  

Chances to win:  In my admittedly un-scientific study of asking the three people I know who play it, the chances of winning HQ are zero.  I know, the leader board shows dozens of people winning each week. Until I meet one of them in person or read about one of them in the Bible, though, I’m sticking to my original estimate.   You’re going to win on Cash Show at some point, even if you randomly slap at the screen with your sister’s dirty razor.  This is because contestants start sharing prizes on round six instead of having to wait until round twelve.  Let’s say round six has a jackpot of $150.  80,000 get the question right.  You win 1/5 of a penny, a coin that may or may not have existed in certain Ohio counties in the mid 1800s.  Since the coin doesn’t exist in modern times, they add it to the next round’s jackpot of $150, making that one $300 split only 30000 ways, which will give you your first penny.  Playing infrequently over the last few weeks, I have amassed a small fortune of 32 cents.  Round Two:  Even but leaning toward Cash Show.  Though 32 cents should beat zero cents, somehow it feels like a bad tip.  Isn’t a small amount supposed to be more insulting to the bartender than nothing?  Maybe the hope of finally getting all the way to the end of HQ and winning $1.32 and knowing that you truly earned it is better than gathering up $1.32 over six months for never making it past round 8 on Cash Show.  I’m torn.

Questions:  Both make me feel mildly smart around questions five through eight and lucky thereafter–if I make it to nine or ten.  That’s my limit.  They always kill me with kid shows, foreign TV, or music made after 1992.  Though on rare occasions I have been inspired to re-learn the noble gasses or the parts of the brain (only to forget everything but krypton and medulla oblongata because they sound cool), rarely do I learn something new that I want to learn or want to pass along.    Yesterday, though, there was a question on HQ about Domino’s Noid, and that gave me a happy feeling when I thought about the Noid later in the day.  So, Round Three:  HQ.

Audience:  Both shows begin with lots of scrolling messages from players.  People like to write things that will show up on a national stage–if only for a microsecond.  When given the opportunity to shout to the world, most choose to say something significant like “New Jersey!” or “Hi Carlaaaaa,” or “BitCoin.”  Some fill the screen with banana icons or happy faces.  I cry for their souls.  And then I type “Hi!” because I’m lonely, too.  The best part of this exercise in scrolling democracy is that the user can easily swipe away all of the distracting voices.  That part of the app should be adapted to work in real life.  When will you be able to swipe the screens of life?  Perhaps such a potential near-future reality will be explored in an upcoming episode of  Black Mirror.  I suppose since the audience is so much smaller on Cash Show (usually around a million on HQ v. a hundred thousand on Cash Show), the advantage goes to them.  Fewer people means fewer distractions and a better cut of the cash when you win.  Round Four:  Cash Show.   P.S.  If you’re a Jehovah’s Witness wanting to play trivia, go for Cash Show.  For whatever reason, HQ includes many more birthday wishes.

Embarrassment Factor:  Which of these apps would you feel worse about playing if you’re caught doing so?  This is a tough one.  HQ has all the celebrity buzz.  They’ve had guest appearances by The Rock and Robert DeNiro.  Scott Rogowski is appearing on The Voice.  So, I guess if you’re into celebrities, you would want to be seen playing what the cool kids play.  If you want to be the “I play the one that doesn’t show up on TV” counterculture sort of person, then you would want people to see Cash Show on your phone.  Then you could explain how it is more authentic than HQ, that Rogowski has sold out–that sort of thing.  This has to be a personal preference toss-up.  Round Five:  Even.

HQ, then is slightly more fun to lose, which is good, since you are more likely to lose on HQ.  If Cash Show had a Johnny Cash theme song or Ben Bailey from Cash Cab as the host, it would be a hand’s down winner.   Listening Cash Show?

Download their apps at your favorite app store.  Build your bot, well, however you do that.