TV Poetry Contestants want to go where everybody knows their name: Ask Me Another! In this game, host Ophira Eisenberg and resident music laureate Jonathan Coulton recites lyrics from famous TV theme songs in the style of spoken word poetry.
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TV Poetry

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TV Poetry

TV Poetry

TV Poetry

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Contestants want to go where everybody knows their name: Ask Me Another! In this game, host Ophira Eisenberg and resident music laureate Jonathan Coulton recites lyrics from famous TV theme songs in the style of spoken word poetry.


This is ASK ME ANOTHER, I am your puzzle president, Ophira Eisenberg and this show is kind of like a state of the nerd address.


EISENBERG: Let me introduce you to our ASK ME ANOTHER puzzle ambassadors, Art Chung.

ART CHUNG: Madam president.

EISENBERG: Thank you very much and John Chaneski.

JOHN CHANESKI: How are you, how are you today?

CHUNG: Good.

EISENBERG: Very good John.

CHANESKI: Hi. Hello everyone.

EISENBERG: You'll be hearing more from them later in the show, as they'll be leading us in different rounds of trivia and let me introduce you to our ASK ME ANOTHER secretary of rock and roll, Jonathan Coulton.


JONATHAN COULTON: Thank you. I thought we agreed on secretary of awesome. No?

EISENBERG: Secretary of awesome?

COULTON: Was that what we were going to say?

EISENBERG: Oh. We'll promote you.


EISENBERG: Secretary of awesome, all with a minor in rock and roll.


EISENBERG: Yeah, OK. All right, we have our first set of contestants. Erica Johnson and Chris Benton.


EISENBERG: So Erica, I found out that you are the author and artist behind the "Ginger Snacked Chronicles." What is that?

ERICA JOHNSON: That is doodles of a gingersnap cookie with a chain saw and an ax.

EISENBERG: It's doodles of a gingersnap cookie with the - and does the gingersnap cookie go on adventures?

JOHNSON: Yes, she recently found her boyfriend in the woods with a marshmallow and a chocolate bar.


JOHNSON: He said, he needed some more time to himself.


EISENBERG: Erica, you are hilarious and clearly super twisted. I enjoy that. I enjoy that and Chris, Chris, I have been told that you're a former child model. Please explain.

CHRIS BENTON: That is correct. Back when I was in like kindergarten, first and second grade, I was in a couple of ads in Florida, back in Orlando, Florida.

EISENBERG: For what? What were the ads?

BENTON: There was one for a bank, did something for a local Toys For Tots.

EISENBERG: Oh my goodness.

BENTON: And then I did something for Disney. I was also in a national ad for Florida Oranges.

EISENBERG: Look at you, you little star and what do you do now, are you still modeling?

BENTON: No. I am in the exciting world of accounting consulting.

EISENBERG: Oh. Is that a natural progression? Is that how a lot of child stars (unintelligible).

BENTON: Yes it is. That's - the washed out child stars, that's where they go, yeah.

EISENBERG: All right. Well you guys are going to be perfectly suited for our first game, it's call TV Poetry. I know. This game is about television theme songs turned into modern poetry of sorts. So Jonathan, let's give the audience an example.

COULTON: Sure. I bet we've been together for a million years and I bet we'll be together for a million more.

EISENBERG: Oh, it's like I started breathing on the night we kissed. And I can't remember what I ever did before.

COULTON: And there ain't no nothing we can't love each other through.

EISENBERG: What would we do baby without us?

COULTON: Sha la, la la.

EISENBERG: La la, la la.

COULTON: So Art, did you recognize that TV theme song without the music?

CHUNG: The sha la la la gave it away, that was the theme from "Family Ties."

COULTON: That's correct.


COULTON: So contestants, you will get a point for identifying the TV theme song, without the music and there will also be one follow up question after each theme that either of you can ring in for.

EISENBERG: And whoever gets the most right will move onto our final Ask Me One More round at the end of the show. Are you guys ready? Do you understand? Yes, OK let's play.

COULTON: Who can turn the world on with her smile. Who can take a nothing day and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile? Well it's you girl and you should know it. With each glance and every little movement, you show it.


JOHNSON: "Mary Tyler Moore"?

EISENBERG: "Mary Tyler Moore Show" is correct.


EISENBERG: Couple of people in the front of our audience here were just dying, chomping at the bit to say it and you got it right. Mary Tyler Moore. Of course a story about a woman in her 30s, unattached with a career, which was crazy.

COULTON: Yeah it's insane.

CHUNG: Is that science fiction?

EISENBERG: Yeah it is. Well done, well done. Here's your follow-up question, either of you can ring in for this. Once named the greatest television episode of all time, "Chuckles Bites The Dust" centered around the death of their co-worker, Chuckles the Clown. How did Chuckles die? Oh, they're looking around, but they cannot find the answer. No. I got a no. Erica says no.


EISENBERG: No idea? All right, I'm going to toss it out to the audience. Does anyone know in the audience? Wow.

COULTON: Greatest episode of all time. You guys need to watch more television.


EISENBERG: He was - Chuckles the Clown was at a parade dressed as a peanut, clearly was the most amazing peanut costume ever, because a rogue elephant tried to shell him.


EISENBERG: Greatest television episode of all time everybody.

COULTON: Very graphic as well. Whatever happened to predictability? The milkman, the paper boy, evening TV. Wow.


BENTON: Full House?

EISENBERG: Yes, Full House is correct.


EISENBERG: Clearly a favorite of yours.

BENTON: Of course, yes, growing up.

EISENBERG: All right. So which member of "Full House" admitted that he's the subject of the Alanis Morissette song, "You Ought To Know " Erica.

JOHNSON: Dave Coulier.

EISENBERG: Dave Coulier, that's right. "You Ought To Know." You're correct.


COULTON: You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both.

EISENBERG: Oh my goodness, Erica.


JOHNSON: "Facts of Life."

EISENBERG: "Facts of Life."


EISENBERG: Like with - That was almost like a name that tune, like one word, she needed one word.

COULTON: She was very fast, very fast.

EISENBERG: And what Academy Award winner appeared on the "Facts of Life" as the handyman?

JOHNSON: George Clooney.

EISENBERG: That's right.


EISENBERG: Yes... Clearly you learned the facts of life through that, yeah.


EISENBERG: They had a lot of great tips. If you could have George Clooney as your handyman.

COULTON: Yeah, that would be good news.

EISENBERG: I like that it would be good news for you too Jonathan.

COULTON: Well, he seems like a nice guy. I'd like to hang out with George Clooney, my handyman friend George Clooney. Everybody wants to live like they want to live and everybody wants to love like they want to love.


BENTON: Is it "Friends"?



COULTON: Shall I keep going? Everybody wants to be closer to free.

JOHNSON: "Party of Five."

EISENBERG: "Party of Five."


EISENBERG: And the Party of Five siblings had the last name Salinger, which was of course a shoutout to J.D. Salinger. Now the title of Salinger's "Catcher in the Rye" is actually a play on the title of a poem by what Scottish poet? He loves haggis and bagpipes and poetry. No, Chris is nodding no. Erica? No. Oh she's thinking. No. It almost came to you though, I like that. It's Robert Burns. Yes.

The audience is doing that thing of like really, so good for you.


COULTON: When you came, in the air went out and every shadow filled up with doubt. I don't know who you think you are. But before the night is through, I want to do bad things with you.

EISENBERG: That was a creepy reading by the way. Well done.


COULTON: Well that's - that's poetry.

EISENBERG: That was excellent.

COULTON: What if I were to play it?


COULTON: (Singing) I don't know who you think you are. But before this night is through... I want to do bad things with you.

CHUNG: Chris I think.


BENTON: "True Blood"?

EISENBERG: "True Blood" is correct.


EISENBERG: There was a lot of "True Blood" fans in this audience. When you were playing it, there was people grooving, they were singing that out.

COULTON: People were super excited.

EISENBERG: I know, they were very excited. And "True Blood" is based on a series by the - I'm sorry. "True Blood" is based on a series of novels by Charlaine Harris, but it was brought to television by Alan Ball. Who was the creator of what other HBO series?


JOHNSON: "Six Feet Under"?

EISENBERG: "Six Feet Under" is correct.


COULTON: Yes, no, maybe, I don't know. Can you repeat the question? You're not the boss of me now. You're not...

JOHNSON: "Malcolm in the Middle."

EISENBERG: Erica, you got to that quick. You're correct.


COULTON: Erica's very athletic as well. That's part of...

EISENBERG: I know, she's like jumping for it.


EISENBERG: Chris, was that on the top of your tongue?

BENTON: I had - Yeah, she beat me to it.

EISENBERG: You had yeah, but she jumped, she literally jumped and ran to that bell. All right and the "Malcolm in the Middle" theme song was song by They Might Be Giants. They Might Be Giants also performed the Bob Mould song, "Dog On Fire," which is a theme to what late night show? Oh. No? Some thinking, some nodding of no.


EISENBERG: That is an amazing hint by the way.

BENTON: How often is this show on?

COULTON: Every day.


EISENBERG: Erica, with the tiniest little bell ever. Yes.

JOHNSON: Is that "The Daily Show"?

EISENBERG: That is "The Daily Show."


EISENBERG: OK. So the scores are in and Erica, you won this round, congratulations.


EISENBERG: You'll be joining us later in the show for our Ask Me One More final round. How about another hand for Chris, a fantastic competitor.


EISENBERG: Thank you so much Chris.

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