KTEP - El Paso, Texas

The Final Final Round

Sep 24, 2021

Ophira and Jonathan answer listener questions and say goodbye.

Heard on The Final Round.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

It's time for the final final round. So we usually ask the questions, but this time we asked you, the listeners, to ask us questions - anything you've ever wanted to know about the show or us or whatever.

JONATHAN COULTON, BYLINE: Yeah.

EISENBERG: But I say to do this, we should have a cocktail.

COULTON: I think that's appropriate - the final final round...

EISENBERG: The final round.

COULTON: ...As it were.

EISENBERG: The final final round.

COULTON: OK. Do you know, Ophira, lately I've been having martinis kind of heavy on the vermouth because...

EISENBERG: Interesting. Why is that?

COULTON: I love a martini.

EISENBERG: Yeah.

(SOUNDBITE OF ICE CLINKING)

COULTON: But the thing about a martini is it's a lot.

EISENBERG: Oh, my goodness.

COULTON: It's a pretty intense beverage.

EISENBERG: Yeah.

COULTON: It's kind of boozy.

EISENBERG: So - but because it is a boozy drink, that's why I like it with three olives - because I need some snacks along the route.

COULTON: Right. You get through this difficult journey, and at the end of it, you have a meal waiting for you.

EISENBERG: That's right. I do one at the top...

COULTON: Oh.

EISENBERG: ...Full prime (ph) and then one halfway through because halfway through you're hungry and then one at the end to settle your stomach.

COULTON: Right. That's very smart. OK, good. Here you go. There's yours.

EISENBERG: Oh, gorgeous.

COULTON: Three olives as ordered.

EISENBERG: Yes, gorgeous. Cheers.

COULTON: All right. Cheers.

(SOUNDBITE OF GLASSES CLINKING)

EISENBERG: To you.

COULTON: To you.

EISENBERG: OK. What a nine years. Where do we start? OK, well, I'm going to just start with the most common question we get asked.

COULTON: Yeah.

EISENBERG: How are we so hilarious?

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: Well, the truth is, people, we don't know.

EISENBERG: I don't know.

COULTON: If they knew how to do it, they would do it all the time.

EISENBERG: That's right.

COULTON: But they can't.

EISENBERG: They tried to bottle it, and they couldn't.

COULTON: They couldn't.

EISENBERG: Yeah. So they're like, you know what we do with this brilliance? End it.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: Let's give them nine years, and then that's enough.

EISENBERG: Actually, the No. 1 question we get asked is, who was your favorite guest? That is an impossible question to ask...

COULTON: Yeah.

EISENBERG: ...Because so many people have been on the show. I cannot believe how many people.

COULTON: Yeah.

EISENBERG: John Cameron Mitchell, who you know as Hedwig; you know him from "Shrill" and lots of television - but he - I saw "Hedwig" when I just moved to New York, and I became obsessed...

COULTON: Yeah.

EISENBERG: ...With that movie and John Cameron Mitchell. And then I saw it on Broadway maybe 12 times.

COULTON: (Laughter).

EISENBERG: So when he showed up on the show, I wore my tank top that I bought from "Hedwig." And it was amazing because I remember he looked at it and went, where did you get that one? Like, I got some special edition...

COULTON: Wow. You had a deep cut for him.

EISENBERG: (Laughter).

COULTON: That's the hardest thing. The, like, fan - really fanning out is hard not to do. You know, Loudon Wainwright...

EISENBERG: Oh, yeah.

COULTON: ...Who most people will know as Rufus Wainwright's father, was on our show. And I try not to do this, but this was one case where I was like, I just have to be a complete nerd. And so I went up, and I said, I just got to tell you I've learned so much from you. And everything I do as a songwriter - it comes from this base of, like, listening to your music and understanding what a song is. And then he said, well, I guess I'm entitled to 10%, then.

EISENBERG: (Laughter).

COULTON: I said, so you are.

EISENBERG: Excellent.

COULTON: So you are, Loudon Wainwright.

EISENBERG: Excellent. Right - a musician and a businessman all at the same time.

COULTON: That's right.

EISENBERG: No, that's true. We've had so many comics on the show, I mean, at the Bell House and at Zoom, so many I've looked up to. When we had Sarah Silverman on, this was in Zoom. We played a game with her, which was real or fake Kit-Kat brand.

COULTON: Right.

EISENBERG: And Kit-Kat sent me a hundred Kit-Kats.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: They got in touch with my reps...

COULTON: That's wonderful.

EISENBERG: ...And sent me a hundred Kit-Kats.

COULTON: Wow.

EISENBERG: And I ran into Sarah Silverman recently in New York at a comedy club, and I said, I got all these Kit-Kats, and I felt like I should have sent some to you. And she goes, they sent them to me, too.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: Wait a minute. How come I didn't get any Kit-Kats? Everybody in the room got Kit-Kats...

EISENBERG: I'm sorry.

COULTON: ...Except for Jonathan Coulton.

EISENBERG: I should have given them to you.

COULTON: No. Kit-Kat should have given them to me.

EISENBERG: You're right. I'm sorry. Kit-Kat, if you're listening, and you have before...

COULTON: No.

EISENBERG: ...As it turns out...

COULTON: If I may, Ophira, Kit-Kat, if you're listening, it's too late.

EISENBERG: (Laughter) Yeah - so many great things. RZA came on. I mean, that was an amazing get. Thank you again...

COULTON: That's good booking right there.

EISENBERG: ...Nancy Saechao, our booker. So there you go. That is a whole bunch of information on our favorite guests. OK, so about our games - people love the music parody games, Jonathan. And they would love to know, how do they come together? Who writes them? How does it work?

COULTON: Yeah. So I do not write the music parodies. A lot of people don't know this. And I feel bad that I get all this credit for work that I haven't done.

EISENBERG: Do you?

COULTON: I mean, yeah. No, I do.

EISENBERG: No, of course, of course.

COULTON: So we have a whole team of writers who write all of our puzzles, including the music games. And a lot of people write the music games, but I will give a special shout-out to Karen Lurie, who has written...

EISENBERG: Oh, my goodness, Karen Lurie.

COULTON: ...Over a hundred of the music parody games.

EISENBERG: A game show music parody writing...

COULTON: I mean...

EISENBERG: ...Expert.

COULTON: Yeah. She was sort of born to do this. And I think part of it is you really need to take it seriously. You really need to have the song be as equal a part as the jokes.

EISENBERG: So the other thing that happens with a live show or even a Zoom show that is then cut down to be a radio show is, you have some magic involved, which is called editing (laughter).

COULTON: That's right, which is to say they take out the bad parts...

EISENBERG: Right.

COULTON: ...And they leave the good parts in. Rommel Wood, one of our producers...

EISENBERG: Yep.

COULTON: ...And James Sparber...

EISENBERG: Yep.

COULTON: ...Edit the blocks together. And...

EISENBERG: They beautify it.

COULTON: They beautify it. And they make us sound as smart and funny as they can, given the meager materials that we hand them.

EISENBERG: All right. (Reading) So how often does Ophira have to cut her bangs? You know what? This is the only thing I need to tell you. No joke. My hairstylist yesterday sent me flowers.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: So if that gives you any indication...

COULTON: Wow.

EISENBERG: ...It is quite a bit.

COULTON: Wow. You got, like, a corporate gift...

EISENBERG: (Laughter).

COULTON: ...From your hairdresser.

EISENBERG: Yeah.

COULTON: That's impressive.

EISENBERG: Trust me, if I move, they're going to be like, do we have to close the shop?

COULTON: (Laughter) Yeah. Where are you moving to? And what are the rents like there?

EISENBERG: People have asked, how did we meet?

COULTON: Yeah.

EISENBERG: Good question.

COULTON: That is a good question. Well, we - there had been an early season - like, sort of pre-practice season of the show. And I got involved partway through that. And then they wanted to get a different host. And so we were sort of, I guess, auditioning people.

EISENBERG: Auditioning, yeah.

COULTON: Yeah. And so Ophira was one of the people who came in. And I remember being in the NPR office, and I was - I guess I was out in the waiting room.

EISENBERG: Yep.

COULTON: And we just had a chat. And we just sort of - I don't know. We just sort of clicked immediately. It was just, like, a very comfortable, funny chat.

EISENBERG: Yeah. And it was just like, oh, this person seems totally normal.

COULTON: It's a very low bar (laughter).

EISENBERG: But that's a high bar...

COULTON: That's actually a high bar, yeah (laughter).

EISENBERG: ...When you go, like, oh, I could just talk to this person like I would a person.

COULTON: I mean, that's sort of what we're doing now. Here it is.

EISENBERG: (Laughter).

COULTON: Here it is if you're at the end of the party. It's literally you and me...

EISENBERG: (Laughter) I know, in a room.

COULTON: ...In a room together.

EISENBERG: With some gin.

COULTON: And we're out of questions. We have nothing else...

EISENBERG: And we'll keep going.

COULTON: ...To say or talk about. And we're still continuing to talk.

EISENBERG: Right.

COULTON: But I think it is time that we wrap up...

EISENBERG: Yes. Thank you so much.

COULTON: ...And say goodbye.

EISENBERG: I've got to say, it has been a unbelievable joy to hang out and play games with you, Jonathan Coulton.

COULTON: Yes. And you, too, Ophira. It's really been a gift. Nine years.

EISENBERG: Nine years.

COULTON: (Laughter).

EISENBERG: Can't argue with nine years. And it has changed so many times. We have been all over the country. We've been in a lot of different bars and dinner places and green rooms and clubs and met so many people. And other people working at public radio stations have welcomed us. And wow, it has been - I guess what they say - one crazy ride.

COULTON: It has. And we're so grateful to all the listeners and fans. And we've really loved hearing from you, especially over these last few weeks...

EISENBERG: Oh, my goodness. Thank you so much.

COULTON: ...As we have found our way to the end of this thing. And we're just so grateful. Thank you so much for listening and being with us and talking back to us. We really do appreciate it.

EISENBERG: And obviously, it's not just us. There is a incredible team of people that puts this show together, and so many great games were written by so many great people. And so thank you to The Bell House. Thank you to the team. Thank you so much for everything. And I guess I'll see you soon, Jonathan.

COULTON: Yeah. Happy trails.

EISENBERG: Happy trails. 'Til next time.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

EISENBERG: ASK ME ANOTHER's house musician is Jonathan Coulton.

COULTON: Hey, my name anagrams to Thou Jolt a Canon.

EISENBERG: Today's music parody was written by Karen Lurie.

KAREN LURIE, BYLINE: Urinal Reek.

EISENBERG: Our other senior writers are Kyle Beakley...

KYLE BEAKLEY, BYLINE: Bye Leaky Elk.

EISENBERG: ...Eric Feinstein...

ERIC FEINSTEIN, BYLINE: Finer Niceties.

EISENBERG: ...Camilla Franklin...

CAMILLA FRANKLIN, BYLINE: Calm Ink Rainfall.

EISENBERG: ...Andrew Kane...

ANDREW KANE, BYLINE: Nerd Awaken.

EISENBERG: ...Carol Lee...

CAROL LEE, BYLINE: Ear Cello.

EISENBERG: ...Greg Leitman...

GREG LEITMAN, BYLINE: Ginger Metal.

EISENBERG: ...Josiah Madigan...

JOSIAH MADIGAN, BYLINE: Indigo Jams. Ha ha.

EISENBERG: ...Scott Ross...

SCOTT ROSS, BYLINE: Sort Costs.

EISENBERG: ...Dan Schofield...

DAN SCHOFIELD, BYLINE: Caddish Felon.

EISENBERG: ...Mary Tobler...

MARY TOBLER, BYLINE: Later My Bro.

EISENBERG: ...And J. Keith van Straaten.

J. KEITH VAN STRAATEN, BYLINE: Kitten Shave Jar Ant.

EISENBERG: Additional material by Cara Weinberger.

CARA WEINBERGER, BYLINE: A Career Brewing.

EISENBERG: Our other comedy writers are Ashley Brooke Roberts...

ASHLEY BROOKE ROBERTS, BYLINE: A Berry Horses Booklet.

EISENBERG: ...And Emily Winter.

EMILY WINTER, BYLINE: Merely Win It.

EISENBERG: And thank you to our puzzle gurus - Cecil Baldwin...

CECIL BALDWIN: Blind Ice Claw.

EISENBERG: ...John Chaneski...

JOHN CHANESKI, BYLINE: Oh Heck Ninjas.

EISENBERG: ...Art Chung...

ART CHUNG, BYLINE: Narc Thug.

EISENBERG: ...Greg Pliska...

GREG PLISKA, BYLINE: Sparkle Gig.

EISENBERG: ...And our guest musician, Julian Velard.

JULIAN VELARD: Naive Dull Jar.

EISENBERG: ASK ME ANOTHER is produced by Nancy Saechao...

NANCY SAECHAO, BYLINE: Any Case Nacho.

EISENBERG: ...James Farber...

JAMES FARBER, BYLINE: Jams Raps Beer.

EISENBERG: ...Rommel Wood...

ROMMEL WOOD, BYLINE: Cold War Mom.

EISENBERG: ...Gianna Capadona...

GIANNA CAPADONA, BYLINE: Can Do A Nap Again.

EISENBERG: ...And our intern, Zach St. Clair.

ZACH ST. CLAIR, BYLINE: Lazars Chic.

EISENBERG: Our senior producer is Travis Larchuk.

TRAVIS LARCHUK, BYLINE: Sick Hurt Larva.

EISENBERG: Our senior supervising producer is Rachel Neal.

RACHEL NEAL, BYLINE: Renal Leach.

EISENBERG: And our bosses' boss is Anya Grundmann. ASK ME ANOTHER was brought to life by Eric Nuzum...

ERIC NUZUM, BYLINE: Curiam Zen.

EISENBERG: ...And Jesse Baker.

JESSE BAKER, BYLINE: Jab Seekers.

EISENBERG: Thanks for our home in Brooklyn, The Bell House.

COULTON: Hot Heel Blues.

EISENBERG: ...And our production partner, WNYC.

COULTON: YNCW.

EISENBERG: I'm Her Ripe Begonias.

COULTON: Ophira Eisenberg.

EISENBERG: And this was ASK ME ANOTHER...

COULTON: Tame One Shark.

EISENBERG: ...From NPR.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

EISENBERG: Next time, on ASK ME ANOTHER...

(SOUNDBITE OF OCEAN AMBIENCE) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.