We sat down with HQ host Sharon Carpenter to ask all your burning questions – what’s the best way to bag a cash prize, and what does HQ actually stand for!?
We know that Save the Student readers are avid HQ players, so you’ll no doubt know all about Sharon Carpenter – or Shazza, as she’s affectionately called.
As the main host of the popular quiz app, her jokes, puns and occasional mispronunciations help make the show what it is, and have earned her legions of fans across the UK – or HQties, as she likes to call them.
Although she normally presents the show from HQ’s HQ in New York, we caught up with her during a brief visit to the UK to find out everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the show.
What’s the best way for players to get to the final round? What happens when something goes wrong during a live show? And who is Shazza’s dream HQ guest?
The rise of HQ
HQ has had a pretty meteoric rise in popularity over the past year, particularly among students and young people.
For those who don’t already know how it works, the concept is pretty simple. You download the app to your phone (on iOS or Android) and every day at 3pm and 9pm you participate in a live quiz, hosted by the one and only Shazza herself.
Answer 12 multiple-choice questions right and you win an actual cash prize! Sounds simple, but believe us, the questions are tough. Typically over 100,000 people take part, but there’s usually only 20-30 winners. However, it can be done. We spoke to a student who won £1,333 on HQ!
With students all over the UK addicted to the game, we asked Sharon why she thinks the show has become so popular:
I think a lot of young people, a lot of millennials, aren’t necessarily tuning into television these days, for their content and their shows.
Instead of having a passive audience […] our audience are essentially our players, who are essentially the stars of the show.
So I think young people also like the fact they’re not just watching this, they’re actually participating.
There’s no denying that the adrenaline rush you get when answering questions yourself, is nothing like watching someone else take on The Chaser on TV, right? Plus, making money from an app in just a few taps is a great cash boost for students struggling to get by.
In fact, the show has become so successful that famous celebrities have started making appearances. Shazza reveals her favourite guest so far has been Sting – but who would be her dream guest?
We’ve got to have Prince Harry on the show, and Meghan as well, the more the merrier. I’d love to co-host with Prince Harry, I think it would be hilarious.
And Ali G, we need Ali G to make a comeback, that would be epic.
The perils of live presenting
As more and more people sign up to the app, hundreds of thousands are tuning in for the games daily, meaning Sharon is presenting to a pretty huge audience. No pressure then!
Luckily, Sharon says the UK players make her feel relaxed and welcome:
The first time I hosted the UK game I was a little nervous, as I wasn’t sure how the audience was going to take to me.
As a presenter of HQ you’re really putting yourself out there. A lot of it is about you and your personality and your jokes, so it can be an intimidating situation, but the UK audience has been very warm and embracing.
And what does she think of her nickname?
I love that they [the players] call me Shazza, it just makes me feel even closer to them.
But of course it’s not all plain sailing. As with any live show, things sometimes go wrong, and Shazza admits that’s it important not to take herself too seriously. What’s been her worst live show gaffe?
I sort of mispronounced Durham. That’s my own fault because I thought of the North Carolina ‘Dure-em’ which is spelt the same way. It was terrible – I said it a couple of times, and I got destroyed!
Shazza’s tips for HQ success
For any dedicated HQ player, the question you’ll want to know is – HOW do you make it to the final round? Is it purely luck, or is there a way to boost your chances?
We asked Shazza what her top tips for players looking to make money from the app would be, and here are her three golden rules:
Play in a group
Have a group of very smart friends around, because obviously the more people who are there, the more knowledge you will have between you all.
So if there’s an answer that you might not know – maybe it’s a Geography question – you may have a friend who just happens to be quite the expert.
So I think that’s a really good way to get quite far.
Use extra lives
You can use one extra life per game. If you get friends to sign up and they use your code, then you’re going to have an extra life that can keep you in the game and that can certainly mean the difference between winning some cash or not.
We know you’ve only got ten seconds, but ten seconds is longer than it sounds. Sometimes people get flustered and they tap and they really knew the answer, but because they’re so concerned about the time they end up tapping the wrong answer.
So keep calm and carry on, I like to say.
So there you have it – grab some clever mates, start racking up those extra lives and keep your cool. That (and a little bit of luck) is what will get you to the coveted final round and the chance of a cash prize, according to Sharon.
Sausage question time: what does HQ stand for?
Before we left, we had one burning question that we just had to ask Shazza – what does HQ actually stand for!? Does it stand for anything?
It doesn’t stand for anything. It stands for what you want it to stand for.
High quality, hard questions… that’s not officially what it stands for, I’m just coming up with these things right now.
What would you like it to stand for?
Answers on a postcard please! Let us know what you think HQ should stand for in the comments.