Connecting locals and sharing their creativity

Matthew Surina started Hub of the Hammer to create live events that share the creativity of locals with the rest of the city.

If you’re a whiz at trivia, you may be familiar (or if not, should be) with Matthew Surina, aka Hub of the Hammer, and his weekly trivia nights across the city. What began as one night a week has become a staple Hamilton event. With a variety of locations and evenings, Hub of the Hammer now takes local comedians and pairs them with venues to host general trivia – and let us say, it can get a little competitive amongst teams!

Trivia nights started as Matthew had just opened his event management company, Hub of the Hammer. At first, he only hosted Seinfeld trivia sporadically at various locations. A natural with crowds, Hess Village restaurant Lou Dawg’s Southern BBQ approached Matthew about hosting a weekly trivia night. Having free reign and not tied down to a specific topic, he created general trivia questions that catered to the crowd that frequented the downtown spot. As the event became more popular, Matthew sought out other restaurants in Hamilton to host more trivia nights, in hopes of having one in all the different areas of the city. With trivia downtown, on the mountain, east end, and Dundas, there’s a night for everyone from everywhere. “It’s a lot of trial and error to see what types of questions work best for each location,” explains Matthew. “Each crowd dictates the night.”

The one thing that stays the same? After three rounds of general trivia, the fourth round is always a theme that’s suggested and voted on by attendees. With themes like The Office, world flags, and music of the 1990s, people can get competitive about topics they know well, especially when the same teams compete week after week for victory. Matthew’s favourite part about theme rounds? “It gets people to celebrate what they’re geeky about.”
But Hub of the Hammer didn’t start because Matthew loved to ask questions to groups of people in bars (although that’s pretty fun too). It began out of a passion for sharing what Hamilton has to offer with the rest of the city through both public and private events. Matthew says: “My goal was to take my connections from the comedy world and use them in the non-comedy world. I’ve worked with comedians and musicians with great talent, but don’t always know how to promote themselves.” Hub of the Hammer does so by helping connect venues and vendors that are non-conventional (and perhaps not the most advertised). “I want to cross those worlds and show different parts of Hamilton through our events.”

And Matthew did just that with one of his favourite venues in the city, The Staircase Theatre. Located on Dundurn Street, just north of King Street West, The Staircase is a theatre and cafe. “It’s such a versatile space,” Matthew explains. “It has a variety of different rooms, so I’ve been able to do shows there, film shoots, and even client birthday parties.” The Staircase has been home to Hammer Night Live, a variety show Matthew has been presenting there for the last four and a half years. It runs in a talk show format, where the show begins with a musical act, opening video, and monologue by Matthew (who is a stand-up comedian himself). He then has local comics perform stand-up and interviews each one after their set. Running one Friday a month, this event introduces Hamilton to some of the great comedic talents right here in the city.

Photo provided by Matthew Surina

Another favourite of Matthew’s is Zyla’s Music + Menu on James Street North. Once a month Hub of the Hammer hosts The First Timer’s Club, a night where anyone can try their hand at stand-up comedy in a supportive atmosphere. Deemed a “no-heckle zone,” rookies have an opportunity to get their feet wet in Hamilton’s comedy scene. Matthew began this night when he noticed the majority of comedians were the same demographic and wanted to promote diversity (especially with more female comics) and new perspectives in comedy. With its smaller capacity, Zyla’s has an intimate ambience that allows comics to shine, feeling the energy of the crowd.

Besides ongoing events, Hub of the Hammer also helps to organize festivals, such as I Heart Beer, as well as fundraisers, weddings, and private parties. If you’re interested in their event management services, head to
www.hubofthehammer.com.