Mystery Guest Mystery guest Mary McKenzie runs an unusual business. Can you guess her secret before Ophira and Jonathan do?
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Mystery Guest

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Mystery Guest

Mystery Guest

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OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

While Beth and Marc get ready for their final round, it's time for us to play a game. This is Mystery Guest. A stranger is about to come onstage. Jonathan and I have no idea who this person is or what makes them special, but our puzzle guru, Art Chung, does.

ART CHUNG: That's right, Ophira. You and Jonathan will work together as a team to figure out our mystery guest's secret by asking yes or no questions. Mystery guest, please introduce yourself.

MARY MCKENZIE: Hi. My name is Mary McKenzie, and I started an unusual all-female group.

CHUNG: You guys have to figure out what the group does.

EISENBERG: OK. Does this group have a, like, a cap size? Like, can it only be like 20 people or can it be as many people forever?

MCKENZIE: No.

EISENBERG: To infinity?

MCKENZIE: No, it does not have a cap size.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: I'm just kidding. OK. So is there a, like, something that you have to do with your hands together?

MCKENZIE: Yes.

JONATHAN COULTON: Are you performers?

MCKENZIE: Yes.

EISENBERG: Performers with hands. Are you mimes?

MCKENZIE: No.

EISENBERG: Good, good, good. I would put a cap on that.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Do these performances happen on stages in theaters kind of thing?

MCKENZIE: No.

EISENBERG: OK. Do these performances happen, you know, in outdoors like in...

MCKENZIE: Yes.

EISENBERG: OK, got it. Do these performances involve puppets?

MCKENZIE: No.

COULTON: That's an interesting question, though. Is there equipment that you need to do these performances?

MCKENZIE: Yes.

EISENBERG: Are these performances dramatic?

MCKENZIE: Yes.

COULTON: In the sense that they are of the theater?

MCKENZIE: Yes.

COULTON: So are you acting?

MCKENZIE: No.

COULTON: Is there singing involved?

MCKENZIE: No (laughter).

COULTON: All right, I don't know.

EISENBERG: Yeah, we - I don't know why that's funny, OK?

COULTON: Why is singing not possible, Mary? No, don't answer. That's not a yes or no question.

EISENBERG: (Laughter) OK, singing is not possible.

COULTON: Is this a difficult skill?

MCKENZIE: Yes.

COULTON: Is it a dangerous skill?

MCKENZIE: Yes.

COULTON: Oh, my goodness.

EISENBERG: Are you, like, sword swallowing?

MCKENZIE: No.

COULTON: Are you acrobats?

MCKENZIE: No.

EISENBERG: There's also fire swallowing.

MCKENZIE: Yes.

CHUNG: Ding, ding, ding.

EISENBERG: A fire swallowing.

MCKENZIE: It makes it very difficult to sing.

COULTON: Yeah, should not sing while you have fire in your mouth.

CHUNG: So Mary founded the all-female fire performance troupe Fahrenheit Foxes.

(CHEERING)

CHUNG: Their performances include fire breathing, fire eating and fire dancing. And they've performed at everything from weddings and corporate events to Super Bowl parties. So why don't you tell us how you got trained for learning how to eat fire?

MCKENZIE: I started doing fire performance about 13 years ago. I was actually trained by sideshow and carny people, so traditionalists.

EISENBERG: Like, what inspired you to go, I want to swallow fire?

MCKENZIE: I have a bachelor's degree in theater performance. I've done theater for 20 years. So, you know, it's good to have additional skills that not other actors can compete with. I've got fire eating and fire breathing in my pocket.

EISENBERG: Can anyone swallow fire, or do you have to be sort of, like, genetically predisposed?

MCKENZIE: Well, anyone can swallow fire. Some people learn quicker than others.

EISENBERG: Yeah.

MCKENZIE: That's the best way to put it.

EISENBERG: OK. But the steep learning curve, how much of that is just fear-based, getting over fear?

MCKENZIE: Almost all of it.

EISENBERG: Almost all of it.

MCKENZIE: Almost all of it.

EISENBERG: So if you could just bottle down, if it's possible, the technique - like, what do you do?

MCKENZIE: It's science. You close your mouth, it takes the oxygen away. It puts the fire out.

EISENBERG: So you've just got to do it fast.

MCKENZIE: Yeah, generally kind of fast. But not too fast you get carried away.

EISENBERG: It sounds terrifying in, like, just a...

MCKENZIE: I'm an adrenaline junkie.

EISENBERG: OK. And, you know, you decided to do - to put together a group of all women. And was there any particular thing in your mind behind that as to why...

MCKENZIE: Well, yes. In the world, especially entertainment, it is something that is very dominated by men. I wanted to empower other women. I can't tell you how many little kids will come and watch and see what we do, and they are just in awe over it. And I had this cute little kid the other night that actually saw me perform. And he's like, you're a dragon.

(LAUGHTER)

MCKENZIE: He's, like, 2 years old. He's like, you're a dragon. I'm like, yes, he gets it. It's great.

CHUNG: In terms of fire dancing there's all sorts of - what sort of genres do you dance to?

MCKENZIE: Oh, man, we can dance to anything that you give us. I have done fire performance - when I first started I actually fire danced to the Hampster Dance.

(LAUGHTER)

MCKENZIE: It can be done.

EISENBERG: That's right.

MCKENZIE: (Laughter).

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: Amazing to have a fire breather on my - I might try it. I'm not going to lie. I might try it.

MCKENZIE: I'll teach you. I'm a great teacher.

EISENBERG: OK. I might take you up on it. Everyone give it up for our mystery guest, Mary McKenzie.

(APPLAUSE)

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