Dom Joly: School quiz night? I'd rather climb a volcano

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The Independent Online

I have rashly agreed to go to yet another of my kids' school functions. This time it's a quiz night, and Stacey asked me so long ago that I said yes, and then forgot to make an excuse for not being able to go.

All these events, from Burns Night dinners to Race Night are thinly disguised ways of raising money for the school. Race Night, by the way, is not an evening where everyone turns up amusingly dressed as another race – it's where they bring in DVDs of old horse races and you bet on them. Personally, I'd far prefer that they just give you an option on the school fees where you tick a box agreeing to pay an extra 5 per cent as long as you're never invited to any functions.

Stacey has been desperately trying to think of a name for our team. This consists of Stacey, Parker, Jackson and me. I suggested The Four Short Planks, which I was really pleased with. It was met with bemused looks from my family. Then I tried The Joly Big Brains, despite knowing that this could be really embarrassing if we came last. Again I was met with withering looks. So I gave up and started to plan how to smuggle in some decent wine so that I could actually have something palatable to drink without paying for anything.

Secretly, I love the idea of a quiz night as, deep down, I'm always sure that I'm going to win. I never do.

I have really good general knowledge and am an avid abuser of trivia so it should really be my bag. Sadly, there's always a couple of tables with people whose heads actually expand and contract under the pressure of their knowledge. They are normally called things like Grand Architects of Dionysian Mystery, and you know that they came straight to the venue from the Dungeons and Dragons club without passing Go.

It's like Trivial Pursuit. I love that game and I'm dynamite on the history and geography. The problem is that the pink "cheese" (it's cheese in our house) is Entertainment, but not as I know it. It's all 1950s movie questions and musicals. I'm rubbish, and endlessly circle the board as my camper friends head for the middle.

Jackson, my three-year-old, thinks we should be called The Candy-Canes, which actually isn't that bad. I try, once again to be amusing and suggest The Jackson Four, only to be rewarded by another withering look. I watched Derren Brown the other night, and he taught some bloke to win at a huge pub quiz after ingesting vast amounts of information simply by scanning his fingers down page after page of thousands of books. This took the poor schmuck about a week, but he came second and did seem to have gained some remarkable learning abilities.

I tried the same technique myself, but only got as far as page nine of an encyclopedia before I got bored and went to the pub.

I shouldn't be worrying about any of this: I'm off to film in Nicaragua in three weeks and I've got to climb a volcano. I don't know why I have to climb it – it's just one of those TV achievement things. I am determined that they won't get what they want – me crying and vomiting and refusing to go on. I've hired a personal trainer and felt really good until I checked into the Groucho last week and felt out of breath after reaching my room on the top floor. Maybe they'll ask us the capital of Nicaragua tonight? It's Managua, and it's famous for not having any street names.

Dom Joly's 'The Complainers' is at 10pm on Mondays, on Five