Comedians Maria Bamford and Jackie Kashian join musician Jonathan Coulton for a game that ruins bands by adding an extra letter to form a new name. Coulton discovers the game's concept is a little hard to explain.
OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:
Our next two guests are hilarious comedians. It's first-time player Maria Bamford and returning contestant Jackie Kashian. Hello.
MARIA BAMFORD: (Screaming).
BAMFORD: Blow out the...
EISENBERG: That's great. Blow out the...
EISENBERG: Congratulations, Maria, on your Emmy nomination.
BAMFORD: Thank you very much. Thank you very much.
EISENBERG: What? Yeah.
JACKIE KASHIAN: Yay.
BAMFORD: It is a hilarious - like, this is a limited role in a daytime children's series - so perfect for my brand, so small. But perfect also because we are in a pandemic, so there won't be any ceremony. So I don't have to go anywhere.
BAMFORD: A dream come true.
JONATHAN COULTON: Oh, yeah, a jackpot.
BAMFORD: I am an introvert. And I do not want to go anywhere and talk to anyone about anything.
KASHIAN: What's the name of the show?
EISENBERG: And you...
KASHIAN: And it was great.
EISENBERG: ...Play a doctor, right? And you're...
BAMFORD: I'm a mad professor...
EISENBERG: Mad professor. I'm sorry.
BAMFORD: ...And I'm explaining to the StoryBots, who are animated characters, how the eye works. I believe it's accurate, the information I'm giving.
EISENBERG: I hope so. I hope so.
KASHIAN: It looks good.
EISENBERG: But I will say that a lot of stand-ups are trying to do Zoom shows. And I will say, from my observation, the two of you, Maria and Jackie, are kind of, like - as far as, like, killing it with being nimble enough to transfer what you're doing to this medium, I feel like nobody is doing it better.
KASHIAN: Aw, thank you very much.
KASHIAN: That's nice.
EISENBERG: But who will get credit? Who will get credit?
KASHIAN: And it's a weird, different kind of time. It's a weird, different kind of exhaustion shouting into the Internet. I am...
KASHIAN: I'm mic'd. I don't need to shout.
KASHIAN: But for some reason, I feel like I got to get to the back of the Internet. So that...
BAMFORD: But don't worry, there's still as many disappointed people after a show...
BAMFORD: ...Just like live shows.
EISENBERG: Oh. Oh. I was...
KASHIAN: It is interesting, that.
EISENBERG: I was on a show where they had - everyone went to leave. But some people's audio were on. And they were like, the guy was the best. And I was like, really? Still? I still have to...
BAMFORD: Oh, my God. I love it.
KASHIAN: I like to unmute everybody at the end of a Zoom show because it feels like I'm in the bathroom...
EISENBERG: Yes, exactly.
KASHIAN: ...At a club where you're just hearing, like, well, I like that one woman.
KASHIAN: That guy, he was all right. It was a little mean. Did you think it was a little mean?
EISENBERG: Yeah. I feel like it's - you know, people do watch it, unless you tell them not to, like a TV, though. So sometimes, you know, you just have these people that are like this, you know? It's...
EISENBERG: Sort of relaxed, sitting back on their couch. It's a passive, you know?
BAMFORD: But you can also call them out. That's the nice thing. You can say, hey, James, you know, Dingleberry...
BAMFORD: ...You, I see that you're trying to get up and get yourself a drink. Don't do it because the punchline's coming.
EISENBERG: Turn the volume up as you go into the kitchen.
EISENBERG: Right? Crowd work, there is the crowd work aspect of Zoom.
BAMFORD: It's this specific, individualized crowd work.
KASHIAN: I like to scroll the gallery view and look for dogs. That's fun for me.
KASHIAN: I'm like, show me your dogs. Show me your dogs.
EISENBERG: All right. Let's play game. You guys want to play a game?
BAMFORD: Oh, my God. I love games.
EISENBERG: We have a music parody game. And in this one, you are going to be working together.
BAMFORD: Oh, great.
EISENBERG: It's called Plus Ones. Yeah, it's a little tricky. So you can work together. Jonathan.
COULTON: So what we did is we added a single letter to a musician's name. And then we rewrote one of their most famous songs to reflect the name-change.
EISENBERG: I know.
COULTON: For example...
KASHIAN: Oh, no.
COULTON: ...If I sang - there should be a example here in the script, and there is not. I'll read it as it is. For example, if I sang song by artist...
COULTON: ...With the lyrics rewritten to be about subject, you would answer...
COULTON: ...Empty quotes.
BAMFORD: Oh, yeah, like a Weird Al song.
COULTON: (Laughter) Yes. We cut a couple from this, so Travis (ph) - producer Travis is pulling up one of these, which I will...
TRAVIS, BYLINE: So sorry. This is my bad. I'll send you an example.
COULTON: Oh, no. That's OK. All right. So here's an example.
COULTON: If I sang "Save Me" by Aimee Mann except the lyrics were rewritten to be about manna...
EISENBERG: Or to be about bread - right? - to be about bread.
COULTON: ...To be about bread, then you would say, Aimee Manna.
BAMFORD: Aimee Manna?
EISENBERG: Yeah, because it...
COULTON: Yeah, because we added one letter. We add one letter to the name of the artist to make a little joke-name.
KASHIAN: Do you know that mana is also in Magic The Gathering...
COULTON: Oh, I know, Jackie.
KASHIAN: ...It's a unit of...
EISENBERG: Oh, yeah, yeah.
KASHIAN: You want to tap that mana.
COULTON: Are you a Magic: The Gathering - (laughter) I'd tap...
EISENBERG: Tap that...
COULTON: I'd tap that mana.
EISENBERG: You'd tap that mana.
BAMFORD: You know that I went to a state school.
COULTON: This is going to make perfect sense very soon. I promise.
BAMFORD: OK. OK.
EISENBERG: It'll be - it will be...
KASHIAN: You're going to have to put this together because music is not my forte. Let's do it.
COULTON: (Laughter) Here we go. (Singing) Ziggy dressed up smart, tail coat and collared dress shirt with this thing on his neck shaped a bit like an X.
BAMFORD: David bowtie.
COULTON: (Singing) And I'd say, what the heck?
COULTON: (Singing) It's really quite a sight if you can knot it right.
EISENBERG: Yes. Yes.
KASHIAN: Oh, that's awesome. Thank God we're playing together.
COULTON: David bowtie is the answer.
BAMFORD: Is it OK to shout it out? Or is that obnoxious?
COULTON: I think - (laughter) I think for the edit, I think wait until the song is done.
BAMFORD: OK. I apologize. I apologize (laughter).
COULTON: OK. Here's another one. (Singing) I am sitting in the morning at a hip cafe in Brooklyn having breakfast with no dairy and an oat milk cappuccino. And the tofu scramble's OK, but I can't help thinking fondly of a time when eggs and bacon were a thing I could enjoy.
BAMFORD: Suzanne vegan.
KASHIAN: Oh, my God.
COULTON: Suzanne Vegan - that's right.
KASHIAN: Thank God.
COULTON: "Tom's Diner," of course.
KASHIAN: Thank God you're here, Maria.
EISENBERG: That's right.
COULTON: I know. Maria's on it.
BAMFORD: I can't believe I'm doing well.
KASHIAN: You're doing so well.
KASHIAN: It's wonderful.
BAMFORD: Where's my mother to see this?
COULTON: All right. Here's another one. (Singing) So took a boat there, it didn't take long. It's a little bit east of Crete. Yeah, it's an island off the coast of Turkey.
BAMFORD: Oh, God. I can't remember the name of that artist.
EISENBERG: So she is a wrecking ball. She's quite a wrecking ball.
BAMFORD: Oh, yes. OK. Billy Ray - not Billy Ray Cyprus, but his daughter
KASHIAN: Miley Cyprus?
COULTON: Miley Cyprus
BAMFORD: Miley Cyprus.
COULTON: Miley Cyprus is correct.
KASHIAN: Oh, my God. I'm being led by the nose. And thank you, thank you that I've answered one question...
KASHIAN: ...With the help of the entire team. I'd like to thank everyone...
KASHIAN: ...For all their good works.
COULTON: No, that was a cooperative effort. That's what we like to see here.
BAMFORD: Truly cooperative.
COULTON: All right. Here's another one. (Singing) Well, she was a good-looking girl. I mean, but really good-looking. She couldn't help having that face. It was a really nice face. Did I mention it was nice?
BAMFORD: It's Tom Petty, but is he petty? He's being just petty?
COULTON: No, he's not petty. You've got to add a letter.
EISENBERG: (Laughter) That is good, though. That is good.
KASHIAN: That is good.
COULTON: That's actually...
EISENBERG: That is the feminist angle...
EISENBERG: ...On this question. You're right.
COULTON: Just Tom Petty being petty.
BAMFORD: Yeah (laughter).
KASHIAN: Is he...
COULTON: He's talking about a good-looking girl.
BAMFORD: Tom pretty?
COULTON: Tom pretty.
EISENBERG: You said it.
KASHIAN: Oh, Tom pretty. Ugh. Good for you guys. All right.
COULTON: Good for you guys.
EISENBERG: Well, I guess that's one for you. Are you happy?
COULTON: It's nice that you guys are having a good time making a show. Must be nice.
BAMFORD: I'm sorry. I'm sorry.
KASHIAN: You're sorry. I got nothing. Unless it's a Billy Joel song from 1978, I'm screwed.
COULTON: That's - you know that's my wheelhouse, Jackie.
EISENBERG: That's his sweet spot. That's his sweet spot.
BAMFORD: Oh, my God. Have you listened to Billy Joel's one heavy metal album, "Attila?"
COULTON: No, I haven't. I didn't even know that album...
BAMFORD: My husband has...
COULTON: ...Was available.
BAMFORD: ...And he will go toe to toe with you.
COULTON: OK. Here's another one of these things.
COULTON: (Singing) Head of the Catholic Church, and I wear a big hat. All day I roam the Vatican paths, issuing cyclicals and celebrate mass.
BAMFORD: Oh, yes - Ziggy pope.
BAMFORD: No, Iggy - Iggy pope.
KASHIAN: Iggy - yes.
COULTON: Iggy pope - yeah, you got it.
KASHIAN: I just sort of rode a coattail on the last two words there. Good for me. Good for me.
COULTON: Maria, you're really killing it, I've got to say.
EISENBERG: You really are.
EISENBERG: It's awesome.
BAMFORD: I - this is partly due to my husband because he has taught me a little bit about specific musical - I've watched an entire documentary about Iggy Pop.
EISENBERG: Iggy Pop is 73, I think.
KASHIAN: Oh, wow.
EISENBERG: That guy looks good.
BAMFORD: He looks - no, he looks like a tendon.
COULTON: A tendon - tendon in pants.
EISENBERG: Yeah. Yeah. I aspire to that tendon.
COULTON: (Laughter) All right. This is the last one.
COULTON: (Singing) I'm going to wave pompoms. I hope it helps you play. I'm going to yell about offense and defense. Give me an A.
BAMFORD: Cher. It's Cher.
COULTON: It's a Cher song.
EISENBERG: There you go.
COULTON: Yeah, that's right.
BAMFORD: Is it...
COULTON: That's exactly right.
BAMFORD: All right. Jackie, I wouldn't have gotten that without you.
COULTON: Yeah. You guys...
KASHIAN: Let me just say, that's amazing. OK.
COULTON: What a team.
EISENBERG: If we had trophies...
EISENBERG: ...You'd get it.
KASHIAN: Maria would get one. Yes.
BAMFORD: There's no trophy?
COULTON: We'll probably have trophies in September or possibly January. We'll see how it goes.
KASHIAN: (Laughter) Something to look forward to.
EISENBERG: I can give you that. I can give you a little reaction of hand-clapping.
COULTON: Oh yeah, hand-clapping's....
EISENBERG: I can do that.
BAMFORD: I love that.
KASHIAN: Oh, that is nice.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
EISENBERG: After the break, we'll pitch Maria and Jackie some alternate titles for Shakespeare plays, and we'll talk to comedian Ramy Youssef from the show "Ramy" about how to convince your dad to buy you Pokemon cards. I'm Ophira Eisenberg, and this is ASK ME ANOTHER from NPR.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.