'Bad Boys Of Abridgement' Reduce World Of Sports The Reduced Shakespeare Company comedy troupe is known for condensing everything from American history to the Bible into 90-minute stage shows. Now, they're taking on sports. The Complete World of Sports (Abridged) aims to reduce every sport ever played in the entire history of the world.
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'Bad Boys Of Abridgement' Reduce World Of Sports

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'Bad Boys Of Abridgement' Reduce World Of Sports

'Bad Boys Of Abridgement' Reduce World Of Sports

'Bad Boys Of Abridgement' Reduce World Of Sports

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/137795828/137795819" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Reed Martin (from left), Austin Tichenor and Matt Rippy reduce the entire history of athletic competition to a two-hour comedy show. Meghan Moore/ Megapix Photography hide caption

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Meghan Moore/ Megapix Photography

Reed Martin (from left), Austin Tichenor and Matt Rippy reduce the entire history of athletic competition to a two-hour comedy show.

Meghan Moore/ Megapix Photography

The Reduced Shakespeare Company comedy troupe is known for condensing everything from American history to the Bible into 90-minute stage shows. No subject is too large or daunting; they've taken on great books, Western civilization and Hollywood.

Now, they're tackling sports. The Complete World of Sports (Abridged) aims to reduce every sport ever played in the entire history of the world. While familiar favorites such as basketball, football and soccer figure into their bits, so too do more obscure sports such as curling, wife carrying and cheese rolling.

Austin Tichenor, Reed Martin and Matt Rippy — the so-called "bad boys of abridgement" — join NPR's Neal Conan to break down the weird world of sports.

NEAL CONAN, host: This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. Whether you're a sports hater or a fan, you're most likely familiar with basketball, football or soccer. Well, there's a whole world of other sports out there you may never have heard of: curling, wife carrying, cheese rolling.

The Reduced Shakespeare Company comedy troupe known for boiling down the bard, American history, Hollywood and the Bible, now presents "The Complete World of Sports (Abridged)," where they promise to tackle every sport ever played on every continent in the entire history of the world.

The stage show is currently running at the Kennedy Center here in Washington. So the bad boys of abridgment return to TALK OF THE NATION and to Studio 4A.

If you have a sports trivia question for them or would like to challenge their knowledge of the rules of some obscure sport, give us a call, 800-989-8255. Email us, talk@npr.org. You can also join the conversation on our website. That's at npr.org. Click on TALK OF THE NATION.

We have people here in the audience in Studio 4A. We'll be getting questions from them as well.


CONAN: And thanks very much for coming in. Austin Tichenor, Reed Martin and Matt Rippy, thanks for sweltering across town to be with us today.

MATT RIPPY: Our pleasure.

AUSTIN TICHENOR: You're welcome. I love these live performances here at NPR because they're all clothing-optional. So thank you for that.


REED MARTIN: Yeah, this is great.

RIPPY: Yeah, and in this weather, whoo.

TICHENOR: We have to have a pledge break to get Neal some pants.

CONAN: We didn't tell you about the video stream?

MARTIN: What the - oh, dear.

TICHENOR: Talk about reduced.

CONAN: Your show is set up in a mock-up of a cable TV sports show. Instead of ESPN, it's the Reduced Shakespeare Company Sports Network, or RSCSN. But we've come to expect certain stereotypes from our sportscasters.

TICHENOR: Well, and with any luck, we have fulfilled those stereotypes.

MARTIN: Yeah, I play the ex-jock-turned-sportscaster with extensive insider knowledge of the game, which I am unable to articulate.

TICHENOR: I'm the bookish intellectual whose wimpy demeanor masks a deceptively detailed understanding of the complexities of the game.

RIPPY: And I'm the telegenic eye candy who just stands there and looks pretty.


CONAN: And doing very well. Thank you.

MARTIN: We think so.

TICHENOR: But we're all pretty for radio, yeah.


CONAN: There is also the origin of your name. You say every continent and every time period. The Reduced Shakespeare Company, any Elizabethan sports?

MARTIN: Oh, we go from sports from the dawn of time. In fact, we have an Elizabethan sports report, do we not?

TICHENOR: Absolutely. Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears for the Elizabethan sports report. Dateline 1604. In the NBL, the National Bear-Baiting League, the bears literally killed the bulldogs five to nil.

In falconry, former Atlanta Falcon Michael Vick also literally killed the bulldogs.


TICHENOR: Too soon? There's been a lopsided deal in the equestrian world, with Richard III trading his kingdom for a horse. In tennis, Henry V did not fancy the dauphin's balls. All's well did not end well for Ophelia, who failed her swimming trials. And it was much ado about nothing for Lady Macbeth at the Westminster Dog Show, when her dog Spot was thrown out, damn Spot. Thank you so much, thank you.


CONAN: There is also the question - you've skewered Hollywood in the past. Some of our favorite sports movies come up in your program, as I understand.

TICHENOR: Yeah, actually, we present the single greatest sports movie of all time.

MARTIN: Yes, a young boy from New Jersey moves to California, where he doesn't fit in and gets beaten up by bullies when he talks to one of their girlfriends.

An elderly Japanese gardener jumps into the fray, beats up the bullies, then teaches the boy the power of nonviolence so that he too can beat the crap out of people. The gardener dies and the boy is recruited to play on a sad-sack Little League team by an alcoholic coach who hates kids.

RIPPY: Meanwhile, down the road, a struggling, apparently schizophrenic corn farmer hears voices in his head telling him to build a baseball diamond in the middle of his cornfield. Soon a series of impossible events occur: dead ballplayers arrive; the farmer plays catch with his long-deceased father; Brian sings his song; and four Rastafarians slide in on a toboggan.


TICHENOR: Across the country in Philadelphia, a washed-up boxer gets a chance at the heavyweight title through a series of far-fetched coincidences. He falls in love with the homeliest girl in town, who becomes the most beautiful girl in town the moment she removes her glasses. The boxer runs up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, shouts show me the Monet, and wins an Oscar.


MARTIN: The boxer, the farmer and the kid all train together by running on the beach in slow motion to an inspirational song. Inspired by the drunken coach, the baseball team wins a championship, but the kid is stricken with an incurable, debilitating disease. He gives a moving speech, saying he's the luckiest guy on the face of the Earth and then is promptly euthanized by Clint Eastwood.


TICHENOR: But the crazy farmer signs with the Durham Bulls and falls in love with Susan Sarandon. He wins Best Director for "Dances With Wolves" and lives happily ever after.

RIPPY: Until "Waterworld."

REDUCED SHAKESPEARE COMPANY: (in unison) The end. Thank you.


RIPPY: Now, that's a movie that I would like to see.

TICHENOR: Absolutely.

CONAN: The Reduced Shakespeare Company, Austin Tichenor, the Matt Rippy - not the Matt Rippy, I guess you are the Matt Rippy.

TICHENOR: I think he is the Matt Rippy.

RIPPY: I'll take that.

TICHENOR: You know, interestingly enough, Matt Rippy's middle name is Damon. So...

RIPPY: So if you'd like, I could be the talented Mr. Rippy.


CONAN: And Reed Martin is also with us, 800-989-8255 if you'd like to join the conversation. Is there some obscure sport of which you are unfamiliar with the rules or how it's played or where it's played or maybe some sports trivia question? Give us a call or send us an email, talk@npr.org. Eric's(ph) on the line, Eric joining us from Morgantown in Kentucky.

ERIC (Caller): Neal, thanks for taking my call.

CONAN: Sure.

ERIC: My question is cricket. I have yet to figure it out. Like I know somebody swings a bat....


TICHENOR: Sorry, go ahead, you were saying?

ERIC: All the scandals that's been going on and all this weird stuff. Could somebody just simplify it for five seconds, tell me like how they keep score or, like, you know, anything about it. All I know is they run back and forth.

TICHENOR: It's a great question because cricket games go on for days and end in a tie. So I don't...

MARTIN: So it's never going to catch on here.

RIPPY: This show isn't long enough to explain cricket.

MARTIN: The pitcher is the bowler, and the bowler is the batsman, and the strike zone is the wicket, and...

RIPPY: And sometimes you get a sticky wicket, and I have no idea what that means.

TICHENOR: The only thing that's great about cricket is that it makes baseball look exciting.

MARTIN: Yes, that's true. That's our favorite part about cricket.

ERIC: I love baseball, but it's like I cannot put my thumb on how even - they even, like, keep up with the score, watch it, figure it out, listen to it on the radio.

MARTIN: Well, a guy just bats and bats and bats until he's out, and mostly what it consists, what would look to us as like a foul ball. I saw a game in London at the Oval once, and basically, they're just ticking away. Then when they hit it far enough, they run back and forth between the two wickets, and they can keep batting until they're out.

TICHENOR: And isn't part of the challenge keeping your cricket whites pristine white? Isn't that it?

MARTIN: Well, I think the bigger challenge is trying to stay awake during the whole match, yeah.

RIPPY: I think cricket is really just an excuse for the Brits to sit down for a nice cup of tea and crumpets.

CONAN: They do break for tea in the afternoon.

TICHENOR: That's right. They take tea. A sport that takes tea break is not a sport. I'm sorry.


RIPPY: You're right.

CONAN: Eric, thanks very much for the phone call. We appreciate it. And I'm not sure we helped much, but we appreciated the phone call. You said cricket makes baseball look exciting?

TICHENOR: Yeah, I'm sorry, but I don't - I have a problem with baseball.

CONAN: Tonight's the All-Star game. Are you going to be tuning in?

TICHENOR: Yeah, I'll be watching it every time I'm not onstage at the Kennedy Center. I mean, can you - Reed, can you explain to me why baseball is not boring?

MARTIN: Because it's not. You've got rabid fans, cool uniforms, fantastic rituals.

TICHENOR: Oh, it's like "Star Trek." Oh, I see what you mean. Explain to me why...

MARTIN: It's not boring because you've got the pitcher staring down the batter like two gunfighters.

TICHENOR: Yeah, and you've got eight other guys standing around doing nothing.

MARTIN: Well, not if he gets a hit.

TICHENOR: Well, then one, maybe two guys get to do something.

MARTIN: On a double-play, three. There is a lot going on in baseball that you can't see.

TICHENOR: See, but that's the thing. I like a sport where there's stuff going on I can see.

MARTIN: You don't get it.

TICHENOR: No, I get it. What's the most exciting thing that can happen in a baseball game?

MARTIN: A no-hitter.

TICHENOR: Exactly. The most exciting thing that can happen is when nothing happens. I'm sorry. Baseball is not a sport.

CONAN: We have a question here in the audience in Studio 4A.

ANDREW: Hi, my name's Andrew. I'm from Rhode Island. And I'm wondering when curling will be the most popular sport in America. And when that happens, why will it have happened?

TICHENOR: Well, yes, when all of America has frozen over, then curling will be...


MARTIN: We're going the other direction. So it's going to be a long way off, yes.

But didn't it seem to gain a lot of popularity in these last Winter Olympics? I saw more curling coverage in these last Winter Olympics than ever before. My favorite was the star of one of the teams was heavily pregnant. She was like eight months pregnant and winning an Olympic medal. I thought that was fantastic.

TICHENOR: Yeah, see that's the definition of a sport right there. If it can be played by a pregnant woman, absolutely, yeah.

MARTIN: Well, the weird thing, it was a guy. That was the weirdest thing.

RIPPY: Yeah, that was the weirdest thing.

CONAN: But one of two sports that uses a broom.

TICHENOR: Yes, the other of course being Quidditch.


CONAN: Let's get another caller in on the conversation. This is Mike(ph), and Mike's with us from Madison in Wisconsin.

MIKE (Caller): Hi, funny show. The question...

RIPPY: What are you watching? We'll tune in.


MIKE: I'm listening to Robert Wuhl, actually.

MARTIN: Ah, nice.

MIKE: The question is for the sports experts: How many kinds of football games are there worldwide, that's games with football in their title?

MARTIN: Seven. Thank you.

MIKE: How many?

RIPPY: Next caller.

TICHENOR: Right, well, there's soccer, of course, football. There's American football. There's arena football.

MARTIN: There's Australian rules football. There's...

TICHENOR: Don't the Canadians have their own version of football?

MARTIN: Yes, there's Canadian rules football, where they just score and score and score.

RIPPY: Although there is only one football, and that is American football.

MARTIN: Yes, the most popular sport in the world.

MIKE: Well, no, actually, there's seven, but there could be...

MARTIN: That's what I said right off the bat.

MIKE: ...indoor football or indoor soccer. But there's soccer, the original football. There's Rugby Union with 15 players, Rugby League with 13 players, Gaelic football, Australian rules football, Canadian football, American football.

TICHENOR: So Reed, you were right.

MARTIN: I was right, right off the bat. We were just in New Zealand, and they're gearing up for the Rugby World Cup, and they are really excited down there.

RIPPY: It sounds like you've been doing your research. Have you been spending a lot of time in sports bars?

MIKE: No, I used to work in the business.

MARTIN: Oh, there you go, the industry.

TICHENOR: All right, so you - but you said American football is the greatest sport in the world, the most popular sport - but it's not.

RIPPY: But it's not. The most popular sports in the world, Reed, are actually soccer, cricket and rugby.

MARTIN: I'm sorry, what I meant to say is American gridiron football, the most popular sport in the world that isn't lame.

CONAN: Ooh. All right. Mike, thanks very much for the phone call, appreciate it.

MIKE: Oh, thank you.

CONAN: Let's see what they can do. This - an email from Paul: Let's see what they can do with Ultimate Frisbee.

RIPPY: Here's what I can do. Watch this!

TICHENOR: Oh. Oh, that's going to leave a mark. Oh, dear.

MARTIN: This is incredible radio, yeah. Yes. Yes. What did we find out? You found out recently where it was invented. Everybody associates it with UC Santa Cruz. But didn't you find out it was invented...

TICHENOR: It's actually in New Jersey, a high school in New Jersey. And one of the inventors was Joel Silver, the movie producer as a high school kid.

MARTIN: So he claims - or so...

TICHENOR: Well, no, of course - listen, this is on Wikipedia, must be true.

MARTIN: Oh, must be true.

TICHENOR: Must be true. Absolutely true.

CONAN: We're talking with the Reduced Shakespeare Company. We did the Elizabethan sports earlier. There is a team locally in the area here, the Baltimore Ravens, who derived their name from the great poet Edgar Allan Poe.

MARTIN: Which is right. He was from Baltimore and he wrote "The Raven," yeah. So it's a cool reference.

RIPPY: Yeah, that's a cool reference. But, sorry, they named their team after a depressive drunk?


RIPPY: Wow. OK. Well, that means, OK, when Los Angeles gets another NFL team, they can call it the L.A. Lohans.

MARTIN: Definitely. What do you say?

RIPPY: Sure. That's what you're saying.


RIPPY: Crazy.

MARTIN: Yeah. Team names tend to fall into two categories. You got great fighters: Vikings, warriors, pirates; or fierce animals: Lions and tigers and bears.

RIPPY: Oh, my. OK. I want to check this out, OK, L.A. Lakers, explain that to me. Los Angeles is not exactly known for lakes.

MARTIN: No, they were originally the Minneapolis Lakers.

RIPPY: Oh, OK. How about Utah Jazz. I can't think of any place less jazzy than Utah.

MARTIN: No, they started in New Orleans.

RIPPY: But team names should be relevant to where they are now, man. You know, it should be like the L.A. Boob Jobs or the Utah Polygamists.

MARTIN: Definitely, yeah.

RIPPY: Oh, there's a hockey team called the Calgary Flames.

MARTIN: Yeah. It used to be the Atlanta Flames.

RIPPY: Oh, right.


CONAN: All right. We're talking with the Reduced Shakespeare Company. Austin Tichenor, Matt Rippy and Reed Martin. They're here with us live in Studio 4A. If you'd like to join the conversation: 800-989-8255. Email us: talk@npr.org. And you're listening to TALK OF THE NATION, coming to you from NPR News. And let's go next to Andrew, Andrew with us from Sacramento.

ANDREW (Caller): Yeah. Hello?

CONAN: Hello, you're on the air.

ANDREW: Oh, great. Awesome. A question - bass fishing, sport or not?

CONAN: Bass fishing, a sport or...

RIPPY: A punishment, is what that is.

MARTIN: You know, well, that gets into a whole debate about what's the difference between a game and a sport, like golf for instance, is golf a game or a sport? I say it's a sport.

TICHENOR: Well, golf must be a sport because it's on ESPN.

MARTIN: Well, that doesn't prove anything. Most of what's on ESPN is not sports.

TICHENOR: Whoa, are you crazy? No, it's the total sports network. You know what ESPN stands for?

MARTIN: I have no idea.

TICHENOR: It stands for E Sports P Network, by definition, anything that's on ESPN is a sport.

MARTIN: Really? Is poker a sport?

TICHENOR: Yeah. It's on ESPN.

MARTIN: That doesn't make it a sport.

TICHENOR: Yeah, but it is a game, wouldn't you agree?


TICHENOR: All right. Well, game, sport, same difference.

MARTIN: Same difference? You got haggis for brains. You got bass for brains.

RIPPY: Guys, guys, guys, look, can I help here, please?

TICHENOR: Yes, please.

RIPPY: A game is simply a competition. A sport requires some physical prowess. Now, OK, some games are sports and some sports are game.

ANDREW: But it's basically setting a booby trap, right?

TICHENOR: What are we talking about now? Boobs?

RIPPY: The L.A. team that we were mentioning earlier.

MARTIN: Yeah, right.

RIPPY: Sorry, say again...

MARTIN: Unless the fish is fishing - is fishing back, it doesn't seem like it's a sport.

TICHENOR: Yeah, exactly right.


RIPPY: Yeah, it's a little unfair.


RIPPY: I'd like to see a more evenly pitched battle.

MARTIN: OK, to the point, some things are sports.

RIPPY: Well, yeah. Check it out. I mean, you know, some sports are games, right? That's true. And some games are sports. But some sports are just sports and some games are just games.

TICHENOR: That was not much help.


TICHENOR: Keep going.

RIPPY: Well, OK, check it out. Track and field is a sport. Basketball is a game and a sport. Candy Land is just a game.

TICHENOR: Obviously, Candy Land is a game. If it were a sport, they'd show it on ESPN.

MARTIN: Candy Land is not a sport because Candy Land requires no physical prowess.

TICHENOR: No, the "World Series of Poker" requires concentration, memory and stamina.

RIPPY: So does watching the Redskins play football.

MARTIN: That's true. Yes. Yes.

TICHENOR: OK. All right. Then, what about NASCAR?

MARTIN: NASCAR, borderline sport.

TICHENOR: Do not let them hear you say that down in North Carolina.

MARTIN: I didn't say it wasn't a sport. I said I don't know. You know what NASCAR stands for? Non-athletic sport created around rednecks.

TICHENOR: Whoa, really? Hey, this show doesn't air...

CONAN: ...doesn't air in Raleigh? I'm afraid it does, actually.


CONAN: Your prospects there are sharply reduced. Here's an email from Dave: Could you tell us more about the Punjabi game of kabaddi, which translates to handle. The apparently, the owner of our local Indian restaurant, The Antelope was once the Mike Tyson of kabaddi.

RIPPY: Kabaddi tastes great with a lemon chutney.

MARTIN: Mm-hmm. And a little bit of Evander Holyfield's ear. Yes. Yeah.


CONAN: We have a...

MARTIN: Kabaddi and Kabbali(ph).

CONAN: We have a question here in the audience in Studio 4A.

KEVIN: Hi, my name is Kevin. I'm from New Jersey. And here's a little trivia question about back to the gridiron. And there's four universities in the U.S. that have produced a Super Bowl-winning quarterback and a U.S. president. And I was wondering if you know those four schools, the presidents and the quarterbacks.

MARTIN: Wow. Well, it's not Whittier College.

TICHENOR: Right. Richard Nixon didn't win a Super Bowl?

MARTIN: No, I don't believe so, yes.

TICHENOR: Well, the University of California, Berkeley, had the previous Super Bowl-winning quarterback, Aaron Rogers.

MARTIN: That's true.

TICHENOR: But I don't think they ever had a president.

MARTIN: That's a plug for our alma mater.

TICHENOR: It is. Let's see as president.

MARTIN: They had the secretary of treasury.


MARTIN: A president and a Super Bowl-winning quarterback. Neal knows.

CONAN: No, I don't. I thought Princeton for a second, but, you know, you do have...

TICHENOR: Ohio had the most presidents outside of Virginia. I don't think Thomas Jefferson played football.

CONAN: Not well.

TICHENOR: Trying to think.

RIPPY: And not by himself.

MARTIN: Steve Young went to BYU, Joe Montana to Notre Dame...

TICHENOR: Do you have an answer?

MARTIN: Do you have an answer to this question?

RIPPY: I hope so.

KEVIN: Yes, I do.

MARTIN: Oh, excellent. Thank goodness. We're off the hook.

KEVIN: OK. The Naval Academy with Roger Staubach and Jimmy Carter.


MARTIN: Yeah, yes.

KEVIN: University of Michigan with Tom Brady and Gerald Ford.

MARTIN: Right.


KEVIN: Stanford, Herbert Hoover and John Elway plus Jim Plunkett. And the tough - the toughie is Miami of Ohio with Ben Roethlisberger and Benjamin Harrison. So you were right about the Ohio.


MARTIN: I was thinking it might have been Santa Rosa JC, but I was wrong.

RIPPY: Smell you - you got these answers going.


RIPPY: See, I apologize. Like these guys, you know, your sports, you know your sci-fi. I know diddly-squat about sports. The only sport I ever played was T-ball, which was great until the coach told me I threw like a girl, which I don't.

MARTIN: Your dad should have given the coach hell.

RIPPY: My dad was the coach.


RIPPY: Thanks, Reed.

MARTIN: Heartwarming story.



CONAN: Reed Martin, Matt Rippy and Austin Tichenor, the members of the comedy troupe the Reduced Shakespeare Company, more in just a few minutes. Stay with us. I'm Neal Conan. It's the TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.


CONAN: Right now we're talking sports, "The Complete World of Sports (abridged)." It's the newest show from the Reduced Shakespeare Company - that is, Austin Tichenor, Matt Rippy and Reed Martin. They're performing at the Kennedy Center here in Washington, D.C., through July 24th, then on to other cities from there, as if there were other cities.

If you have a sports trivia question for them or would like to challenge their knowledge of the rules of some obscure sport, give us a call: 800-989-8255. Email us: talk@npr.org. You can also join the conversation at our website. That's at npr.org, click on TALK OF THE NATION.

And, gentlemen, we've just reached halftime of our broadcast.

MARTIN: Mm-hmm.

TICHENOR: Right. Yes, we have. All right, gentlemen, gentlemen, gather round. Take a knee, fellows. All right. Listen, nobody comes into our house and pushes us around. Unfortunately, out there in the first half, that's exactly what our opponents did. They came into our house and they - yes?

MARTIN: Sir, they didn't come into our house. They came into our stadium. My house is in Iowa.

TICHENOR: Look, I'm just saying what it tells me to say here in the coach's cliche handbook.


TICHENOR: All right? Now, as I was saying, not only did they come into our house and push us around, but they rearranged the furniture, went through our drawers and put our wives' underwear on their heads. Yes?

RIPPY: Sir, I don't have a wife.

TICHENOR: Yeah, I know, son.

MARTIN: And he's not your son.

TICHENOR: Yes, I get that. Thank you. Now you know what this team needs?

MARTIN: Some good players.

TICHENOR: Yes. That would help, but...


TICHENOR: ...what I was looking for is heart. We just don't have heart.

RIPPY: Sir, I have a heart.

TICHENOR: Yeah, I know.

MARTIN: Me too.

TICHENOR: Yes, I get that.

RIPPY: Otherwise we'd be dead.

TICHENOR: Well, you did look kind of corpse-like out there. But my point is, you got to want it. Ladies, you got to want it bad.

RIPPY: Sir, we're not ladies.

TICHENOR: Yes, I know.

MARTIN: And it's badly.


MARTIN: Badly. You got to want it badly.

TICHENOR: What did I say?

MARTIN: Bad. But the correct English is badly. It's an adverb, a part of speech that modifies a verb, often formed by simply adding an L-Y to the adjective.

TICHENOR: You know what else this team needs?


TICHENOR: Fewer athletes who actually go to class. But in fairness, having you guys punt on every first down was not the brightest coaching move I ever made either.


TICHENOR: I just wanted it so bad...ly. And it says here in the coach's cliche handbook that the team that wants it the most wins, which does not make any sense at all, now that I think about it. The team that scores the most points wins.

RIPPY: Right.

MARTIN: Yeah, that makes sense.

TICHENOR: Yeah. All right. You know what? Forget about this. Forget about winning and losing.

RIPPY: Sir, we forgot about winning a long time ago.

TICHENOR: Good, you're halfway there.

MARTIN: Yee-oo.

TICHENOR: All right. You know what? Forget about the standings. Forget about the crowd, what's left of them. I just want you guys to go out there and play like you've never played before, all right? So, offensive line, that means you're going to have to step it up now. Matt can't complete passes lying on his back - although, to be fair, even on a good day, he couldn't hit the ocean from the beach.

RIPPY: Sir, I can definitely hit the ocean from the beach.

TICHENOR: Well, it's a metaphor.

RIPPY: I don't think that's a metaphor, sir.

MARTIN: More like a figure of speech.

TICHENOR: Stop interrupting.

MARTIN: Sorry.

TICHENOR: This is not a democracy, gentlemen. All those in favor, say aye.



TICHENOR: All right. That settles it.


TICHENOR: I love being in Washington, D.C. at NPR, because you guys got that joke.


TICHENOR: Most audiences don't.


MARTIN: Right over their heads.

RIPPY: Yeah.

TICHENOR: All right. Listen now. All right. Listen up, gentlemen. What? Yes? Can I help you?

RIPPY: Sir, do you have any idea where we are in this scene?

TICHENOR: Yes. I know where we are.

RIPPY: OK. Just checking.

TICHENOR: All right. Listen, gentlemen...

MARTIN: Because you were doing a remarkable job of looking like you didn't know.

TICHENOR: Thank you. Listen, if by some miracle we manage to get through this scene... If by some miracle...they invite us on NPR... If by some miracle you cross the goal line in the second half, don't dance around and act like jackasses. Just act like you've scored a touchdown before.

MARTIN: But we haven't scored all season.

TICHENOR: Pretend, OK? I'm begging you. Just get out there and leave it all on the field. Give me 110 percent.

RIPPY: Oh, not possible, sir. The maximum effort anyone can exert is 100 percent.

TICHENOR: OK, Poindexter. Fine. Then just get out there and play like there's no tomorrow.

RIPPY: Sir, if there's no tomorrow, I'd like to spend my final hours with my family.

MARTIN: Me, too. I love your family.

TICHENOR: All right. Just get out there and do the best you can, all right? Give me 100 percent, but I'll settle for 35. And remember, there is a tomorrow, but then life is futile and then you die. On three. Ready. One, two, three. Life is futile, and then you die. Let's get our butts kicked.

RIPPY: Yay, whoo. Kick my butt. Kick my butt.


CONAN: Let's get another caller in on the conversation. We'll go to Carol(ph), and Carol is on the line from Peoria, where - of course, everybody plays in Peoria.

TICHENOR: Obviously.


CAROL (Caller): Yeah. My daughter just went overseas to Ireland this summer for studying. And she is addicted to Gaelic football. She told us - tells me that it's a combination of soccer and volleyball and for me to YouTube it because she could not explain it.

MARTIN: I think that's a very good recommendation.



RIPPY: Sorry - your daughter tells you she's going to Ireland to study? Really? I think it's actually going to include more beer pong and...

TICHENOR: Beer pong, well, which leads to that other famous Irish sport, you know? Occasionally, the ball will hit the player instead in that old Irish sport.

MARTIN: All right.

TICHENOR: Which is why the sport is called hurling. Hurling, yes, exactly.


CONAN: Thanks very much for the call, Carol. And I hope that was extremely helpful. Question here in the audience in Studio 4A.

SAM BROWN: Hello. Sam Brown from Maryland.

RIPPY: Hello, Sam Brown.

TICHENOR: Hello, Maryland.

BROWN: You know, second only to curling, the best sport on Wide World of Sports was always barrel jumping. Who's your favorite barrel jumper?

TICHENOR: There are so many.


MARTIN: You know, Tony Boom-Boom Castanza(ph) was my favorite. He would leap over barrels every Saturday, and Jim McKay would say, here he is. Here's Boom-Boom and there - I'm just making this up.

TICHENOR: Evel Knievel.


TICHENOR: Evel Knievel. He took barrel jumping to a high art. He started adding buses and then canyons...

MARTIN: Broken pelvises.

TICHENOR: Broken pelvi.



MARTIN: Did you have a favorite?

RIPPY: Billy Barrel Boom Bong.

BROWN: I figured you guys are the sports experts because you watch ESPN.

TICHENOR: That's right.

RIPPY: That's right. That's right. Yes.

TICHENOR: That's right. If it's on ESPN - and bass fishing is not on ESPN. It's on - I think it's on that other sports channel Versus.

RIPPY: Aha. I want to get...

MARTIN: There's probably a fishing channel. There's probably an everything channel.

RIPPY: I've never seen a barrel jump. What does it jump over?

BROWN: You need to watch ESPN.


TICHENOR: Clearly.

CONAN: Email from Vanessa. What's your take on the softball infield fly rule?

MARTIN: Well, first and second or first, second and third occupied with less than two outs on a pop fly that an infielder could catch it in fair territory on a normal effort, that's your infield fly rule. It's to prevent, you know, trick double plays. Sorry... I actually used to be a professional minor league baseball umpire.

CONAN: Really? They paid you for that?

MARTIN: Say that again?

CONAN: They paid you for that?

MARTIN: Very little, yes. Up in the Pioneer League.

TICHENOR: It was a reduced salary. Didn't you decide you preferred being an actor because people didn't shoot at you?

MARTIN: That had something to do with it, yes. Yes.

CONAN: The - another question here in the audience.

JANE: Hi. I'm Jane from San Francisco. And I was wondering if you could explain the scoring rules for Frisbee golf.

MARTIN: Yes. Well, we could but it's - yes.


MARTIN: But our time is limited. Yes, yes.

RIPPY: Frisbee golf, let's see. Now, how does that differ?

TICHENOR: From Ultimate Frisbee?

RIPPY: From Ultimate Frisbee?

TICHENOR: There's less running in Frisbee golf. And it's much harder to hit the Frisbee with those clubs because, you know?

RIPPY: Yeah.

MARTIN: Actually, the hole is smaller than the Frisbee.

TICHENOR: The size of the hole, yes.

MARTIN: So it's virtually impossible to get the Frisbee in the hole, so, yes, it's a tough game. It's a very tough game. Lots of performance-enhancing drugs are used...

TICHENOR: But you also - you need to bring a spare Frisbee along in case you get a hole in one.

MARTIN: Absolutely, true. Yes. We'll be here all week, try the veal.

CONAN: That's way under par.

TICHENOR: That's way under par? Thank you, Neal.

CONAN: There you go.

RIPPY: Wow. If that one made you groan, this is going to be a long interview.

CONAN: Let's see. We go next to Tom, and Tom's with us from Beaufort in South Carolina.

TOM (Caller): That's Beaufort.

CONAN: Beaufort, excuse me.

TOM: Yes. My question is whether the troop knows what sport distances are measured in sewers.

CONAN: Sewers?

MARTIN: Sewers.

TICHENOR: Alligator chasing.

TOM: Nope.

CONAN: Nope. It's a sport that Willie Mays once played.

MARTIN: Stick ball. Yeah, he used to play with the kids when he played for the New York Giants. He was famous for, in the mornings before the games, going out and play stick ball with the kids. Yeah.

TICHENOR: That's right.

MARTIN: How many sewers, because there's a sewer right at the end of each block, at each end of the block, so how many sewers could you hit.

CONAN: And how many...

MARTIN: I think they called it Seward's Folly, if you didn't do well. Yeah.

CONAN: Only in Alaska. Tom, how many sewers could you hit?

TOM: Three.

CONAN: Three? Not bad. Doubles hitter.



CONAN: Thanks very much for the phone call. Appreciate it. Here's an email from Brandi(ph): I would like to know how much your guests know about roller derby. I've been playing for five years and found it's the fastest growing female sport in the world.

MARTIN: Well, I used to follow the Bay Bombers as a kid growing up in the Bay Area, Charlie O'Connell and Joanie Wesson. Yeah, it's like wrestling on wheels, you know? It's great. It's exciting. We met - we were just playing Austin, Texas.

RIPPY: And I think Austin kind of spearheaded the whole roller derby movement.

TICHENOR: The revival.

RIPPY: The renaissance, yeah.


RIPPY: They're hardcore, those girls.

TICHENOR: Well, and I just love the names. I mean, it's like, you know, you take your middle name and the street you grew up on and that's your roller derby name?

MARTIN: Well, that's one thing.

CONAN: That's one way to use that, yes.


CONAN: Let's see, we could go next to Steve, and Steve is on the line with us from Toledo.

STEVE (Caller): Good afternoon. My question, as a longtime Cubs fan, can you create a sport...

TICHENOR: I'm sorry.

STEVE: ...in which the Cubs play for themselves, by themselves and they can make it to the World Series and play themselves in the World Series and maybe win in seven games?



MARTIN: No, it'd be impossible for the Cubs to ever win the World Series.


RIPPY: I think that's been proven, scientifically.

MARTIN: You know, I'm rooting for the - I'm a Giants fan, and we finally won after 56 years. And I...

CONAN: Congratulations.

MARTIN: Thank you. I wake up in the morning...


MARTIN: ...wake up in the morning and go, this doesn't happen to the Giants.

TICHENOR: Yeah. It really doesn't happen to the Cubs.

MARTIN: No, no.

RIPPY: That was a tough week for me because growing up in Texas, I mean, I never ever watched baseball. But for one week, I was a baseball fan. And then what that week was over, nah, not so much.

TICHENOR: Baseball is terrible.

CONAN: Thanks very much for the call, Steve.

STEVE: Thank you very much. Take care.

CONAN: If only sports are on ESPN, writes Pat in Fargo, why is the National Spelling Bee on ESPN?

MARTIN: Exactly my point, yeah.

TICHENOR: That's because it's a sport, hello?

MARTIN: No, no. It requires no physical prowess.

TICHENOR: Physical prowess?

RIPPY: But that would make it interesting.

MARTIN: Oh, that's true.

RIPPY: Yeah.

MARTIN: Yeah. Spelling bee and boxing. Now, they...

RIPPY: A full contact sport.

TICHENOR: Yeah, yeah. Listen, you got to stand up there and not faint.

MARTIN: Oh, I know that one.

TICHENOR: That's a lot of cardio. That's a lot of fortitude, man, you know.


CONAN: Another email. This from Steve in Ames, Iowa: How about a sport we could look forward to in the future?

MARTIN: Well, I know something I'm looking forward to. It's actually a movie version of the life of former Yankee and Dodger manager Joe Torre, who converts to Judaism, marries actress Tori Spelling and honeymoons in Pearl Harbor. And it will be called "Tora Tora Torah Tori Torre."



TICHENOR: And there's another trend happening with professional team names.

MARTIN: Well, we talked about the Baltimore Ravens and Edgar Allan Poe earlier. Professional sports organizations are following the example of the Baltimore Ravens in rebranding their teams using literary inspiration. And here are some quick scores now: In the NBA, the New Orleans Metrosexual Vampires caught the Washington Irvings napping; in soccer, the Baskerville Hounds killed the Mockingbirds; and in the NFL, the Chicago Hog Butchers slaughtered the Nantucket Pequods. The Pequods were also fined $100,000 for the non-limerick use of the name Nantucket.

TICHENOR: Yeah, a tough break for them.


TICHENOR: Tough break.

CONAN: The Reduced Shakespeare Company "Complete World of Sports," Austin Tichenor, Matt Rippy and Reed Martin. You're listening to TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News. And gentlemen, how can we possibly have a show about sports without a fight song?

TICHENOR: Well, you got to have a fight song. And this is why I, personally, I prefer college sports to professional sports.

MARTIN: Why's that? Why?

TICHENOR: Well, particularly because college sports fans aren't stupid and mindlessly violent like pro-sports fans are. You know, first - except for the University of Maryland, but...

MARTIN: Right. Yes.

TICHENOR: But also college - every college has a fight song, right, to celebrate the greatness, the glory of athletic competition. If we had a fight song, Reduced Shakespeare Company, our fight song could be something grand, something Shakespearean, like (singing) We band of brothers, we few, we happy few. We fight all others for honor, glory too. We band of brothers, we answer freedom's call. Stay strong, it's all for one and one for all.


TICHENOR: Thank you. Kinda spitballin' there.

MARTIN: No, no, no, no.

TICHENOR: No, what?

MARTIN: If we're going to have a fight song, it should have a Y chromosome.

TICHENOR: What does that mean? What does that mean? Wait a second.

MARTIN: It should be short and to the point. (Singing) Fight, fight, fight, fight, kill, kill, kill, kill, crush and maim. We will, will, will, will rip their lungs out, strip their tongues out, leave them all to die.

TICHENOR: No, no, no...

MARTIN: (Singing) Break their kneecaps, smash their fingers, bring the pain and make it linger. Make them cry. No, make them die. Oh, this is my Reduced fight song.


TICHENOR: Yeah. Absolutely. That's good. It had a lot of fight.

MARTIN: Thank you.

TICHENOR: Not a lot of song.

MARTIN: It had enough song. Thank you.

RIPPY: Guys, guys, guys, look. You're over thinking this way too much. A good fight song should be simple and uplifting, you know?

TICHENOR: How do you mean?

RIPPY: Something, I don't know, like (Singing) We got to go out right now and win the game or else our lives will never be the same. But now that our athletes proudly take the stage, we up in the stands proudly refuse to act our age. There's nothing we love more than our sports and ball. We rally behind our champions, warts and all. With all of our might, we're strong, sing right along, everyone sing our Reduced fight song.


RIPPY: I don't even sing. How did that work? Was that good?

MARTIN: That is really, really good. And it reminded me of some other fight songs I've heard. And that's good.

RIPPY: Oh, come on. Give me a break, Reed. You're always picking on me. It's better than your fight, fight, kill, kill, ooga, ooga.

MARTIN: Oh, oh, back off, pretty boy. Don't make me crush you musically.

RIPPY: Oh yeah? Bring it on, old man. I'll smack you so hard, your hair will grow back.

MARTIN: Bring it on.

TICHENOR: Wait a second. Wait a second. Wait a second. Wait, Reed, Reed, do that thing that you were just doing.

MARTIN: Fight, fight, kill, kill? I thought you hated that.

TICHENOR: I do, but humor me.

REDUCED SHAKESPEARE COMPANY: (Singing) Fight, fight, fight, fight, kill, kill, kill, kill, fight, fight, fight, fight, kill, kill, kill, kill, we got to go out right now and win the game. Or else our lives will never be the same. But now that our athletes proud / we take their tongues. Way up the stands proudly refuse to act their age. There's nothing we love more now than / smashing their fingers. We rally behind our champions, warts and all / with all of our might we're we strong, sing right along. Everyone sing our Reduced fight song. Fight song, fight song.


RIPPY: Oh, wow. That came together, right?

MARTIN: That was really, really good.

RIPPY: Yeah. Wow, we were like a quartet.


CONAN: The Reduced Shakespeare Company, among the questions we are not going to have time to get to.

MARTIN: Oh no.

CONAN: Chess boxing, is this for real? If so, where is it played?

MARTIN: It is real. It's in Europe.

CONAN: And about jarts, aka lawn darts, America's most famous sport?

TICHENOR: Oh, there's a reason why it's America's most famous sport.


TICHENOR: Because it's not.


CONAN: What do you know about the world championships of all-star cheerleading? It is shown on ESPN.

TICHENOR: It's a sport. That makes it a sport.

MARTIN: That does not make it a sport.


MARTIN: That does not make it a sport.

RIPPY: It requires physical prowess.


CONAN: What about dance sport? Is that a true sport?

MARTIN: Danskin is something you wear.

TICHENOR: I think ESPN - ABC and ESPN are both owned by Disney, so I think it on airs on ABC, so that makes it a sport.

CONAN: OK. Dancing.

TICHENOR: Dancing, yeah.

CONAN: Could you explain the finer points of pickle ball?

MARTIN: Yes, we could, but we're out of time.

RIPPY: Yeah.

CONAN: You guys are very good. You know, it occurs to me don't you have a reprise to that fight song?


TICHENOR: Oh, we do. We do. And we could even try to sing it for you.

MARTIN: All right.

RIPPY: Did that just occur to you?

REDUCED SHAKESPEARE COMPANY: (Singing) We covered all sports. We hope you were not bored. To tell you the truth, some sports we just ignored. The show is all done now. Please get out of here. But not before you stand and give us all a cheer. There's nothing we love more than our sports and ball. So rally behind we champions, warts and all. With all of our might, we're strong, sing right along. This is the end of our Reduced fight song. Good-bye.

TICHENOR: Thank you, NPR.


CONAN: Austin Tichenor, Reed Martin and Matt Rippy are the Reduced Shakespeare Company, reducedshakespeare.com. They joined us here in Studio 4A. They will be performing the "Complete World of Sports (Abridged)" at the Kennedy Center here in Washington D.C. through July 24th, then south to Florida and on to other states. Tomorrow, we all have a story to tell. Memoir coach Marion Roach Smith will join us. This is TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

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