Brainstorming with Barry


The Boss is here to ‘Brainstorm’ us again, but when Barry O’Brien starts asking questions, it is no more just a quiz show. It becomes an edutainment and it is not only the participants who are on their toes, even the audience starts scratching their heads to find the correct answers. And O’Brien has been enjoying this effect on his audience for the last 28 years.

“When everyone is thinking and trying to work out the answers — that is the thrill for me. As a quizmaster, I believe you have succeeded when the audience forgets who the winner is as they have enjoyed the show so much,” says O’Brien talking exclusively to The Himalayan Times.

He is in Nepal to conduct the third Surya Lights Brainstorm — the boss Corporate Quiz, organised by the boss magazine, which is being held on August 31. Twelve teams from different corporate houses are vying for trophy.

Joseph Sebastian, Corporate Director, Sales and Marketing of Specialty Media, says, “In the previous years the participants were from the top 10 brands of Nepal based on research done by AC Nielsen. This year it is open to all corporate houses.”

People often ask O’Brien how he prepares for quiz, and he answers, “You cannot prepare for a quiz in a couple of days. You have to constantly keep reading — be it books or newspapers.”

And he should know for he belongs to a family of quizmasters: his father Neil introduced quizzing to India, while his brother Derek conducts the popular ‘BQC’ (Bournvita Quiz Contest) on television.

Remembering the first live quiz conducted by his father called ‘ Eddie Hyde Memorial Quiz’, O’Brien says, “I was just four and I remember going there holding my father’s hand.”

His father’s mantra of 3Rs has also stayed in his memory — Read, Record and Recall.

Although famous as a quizmaster, he prefers calling himself an educationist. O’ Brien, who worked as a schoolteacher till 1996, took up quizzing in order to “broaden his classroom”. He believes that quizzing inculcates “regular reading habit and makes one able to think quickly”.

Theatre is his first love, and he likes live quiz shows more than televised ones. It is his way of asking questions that works wonders.

“How you put the questions across is very important in making a quiz interesting. I am friendly, humorous and yet firm. My mode of presentation is fun as I don’t think that humour lessens a serious quiz,” adds O’ Brien, who conducted his first live quiz at the age 16.

He also feels quizzing needs to be incorporated in the schools of Nepal, adding, “I would love

to conduct an interschool quiz contest here.”