Animal Houses Hosts Ophira Eisenberg and Johnathan Coulton read fictional real estate listings for animal habitats. When you're a lion, the only room you need is a den.

Animal Houses

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JONATHAN COULTON: From NPR and WNYC, coming to you from the Bell House in beautiful Brooklyn, N.Y. It's NPR's hour of puzzles, word games and trivia, ASK ME ANOTHER. I'm Jonathan Coulton. Now here's your host, Ophira Eisenberg.

(CHEERING)

OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

Thank you, Jonathan. We have a great show for you. Four brilliant contestants are backstage, decorating their lockers.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: And soon they're going to be up here playing some nerdy games. And one of them is going to be our big winner.

EISENBERG: Jonathan Coulton is back.

(CHEERING)

EISENBERG: Vacation - tour and vacation.

COULTON: Two weeks of tour and then two weeks of vacation.

EISENBERG: Yeah. So how was coming back to New York City?

COULTON: It's...

EISENBERG: (Laughter).

COULTON: ...Boy.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: It's nice. It's good. There's some rats in my neighborhood.

EISENBERG: (Laughter) You have rats?

COULTON: Well, there's construction in our neighborhood...

EISENBERG: Yes.

COULTON: And when they take down a building, the thousand rats that live there...

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: ...Fan out into the neighborhood.

EISENBERG: That's right. They don't know where to go.

COULTON: They don't know where to go.

EISENBERG: They're trying to find a...

COULTON: They...

EISENBERG: ...New home.

COULTON: ...Figure it out, though.

EISENBERG: Yeah.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: I remember coming home from a vacation and walking in to the door - just like - I just live in a one-bedroom apartment. But all the windows were closed and everything, so when I opened the door, the mere gust of the door opening caused two framed photos to fall onto the floor and smash. And then I walked in, and there was smash glass everywhere and one giant dead water bug...

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: ...Just being like, I've been here and it was lovely.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Until a framed photo fell on me (laughter).

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: We have an amazing guest on the show tonight. Yeah.

(CHEERING)

EISENBERG: I'm so excited. Comic writer, actor Julio Torres will be joining us.

(CHEERING)

EISENBERG: If you're not familiar with his work and you're watching "Saturday Night Live" and you find yourself going, that was kind of weird, that was Julio Torres' work.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: I mean, he finds humor and absurdity in a lot of everyday objects like a sink that is too large or the font Papyrus or the act of writing a check. He's kind of like...

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: ...An observational comic for another dimension. Like, I think he would kill at a museum gift shop.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Julio also has a collection of fake diamonds, and unfortunately, I just found out I do, too.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: We also have a game about real estate in the show. I have a reoccurring dream where I am falling down stairs and I wake up in the morning going, I have stairs.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Sad, little New York studio dream. All right. Let's do - let's play some games, everybody. Let's play some games.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

EISENBERG: Our first game is called Animal Houses. Did you know that the movie "Animal House" is billed as a comedy/romance?

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: That's like billing "Silence Of The Lambs" as a thriller/cooking movie.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Let's meet our contestants. First up, Iliya Smithka, you are a high school earth science teacher.

ILIYA SMITHKA: Yes.

EISENBERG: So - and you studied rocks...

SMITHKA: Yeah.

EISENBERG: ...For much of your life.

SMITHKA: Yeah.

EISENBERG: So you can tell the difference of between many kinds of minerals and rocks...

SMITHKA: Yeah.

EISENBERG: ...Including you have the ability to tell the difference between fake and real diamonds?

SMITHKA: Yeah. So we can talk later.

EISENBERG: OK, so...

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Have you ever done that for a friend?

SMITHKA: I always offer for people who are newly engaged...

EISENBERG: Yeah.

SMITHKA: And they're, like, really feeling it...

EISENBERG: Oh, God, that sounds very high-pressure.

SMITHKA: ...And - I mean, they're not my closest friends anymore.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Iliya, when you ring in, we'll hear this.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Your opponent is Hope Dickens. You've lived all over - 25 different places before you turned 25.

HOPE DICKENS: That's right.

EISENBERG: So did you meet any cool people along the way in these short stints that - who made a real impression on you?

DICKENS: At one place - my parents were in the hotel, motel industry.

EISENBERG: OK.

DICKENS: And we lived at a resort that Jane Fonda and Ted Turner managed - or owned, rather.

EISENBERG: Oh.

DICKENS: And so one day when I was 11, I got to drive around with Jane Fonda while she redecorated hotel rooms and...

EISENBERG: She was redecorating hotel rooms?

DICKENS: Yeah. She owned the place, so it had to fit her aesthetic.

EISENBERG: OK. And what do you remember from that experience?

DICKENS: She was super cool. She wore all black. She gave me a nickname.

EISENBERG: Oh, what's your nickname?

DICKENS: Hopearino (ph) is what she called me.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: I love a nickname that's longer.

(LAUGHTER)

DICKENS: Yeah.

EISENBERG: Hope, when you ring in, we'll hear this.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Iliya and Hope, whoever has more points after two games will go to our final round. This trivia game is called Animal Houses. Jonathan and I will read fictional real estate listings for animal habitats. You are going to ring in and identify the animal that is ready to move in.

Featuring a private underwater entrance, this bespoke 20-foot home blends the aesthetic of organic branches with mud crown molding. You'll say, dam.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Iliya.

SMITHKA: Beaver.

EISENBERG: Yeah, that's right.

(APPLAUSE)

COULTON: This fixer-upper has so much renovation potential. While some see a snug cavity in a pine tree, you see an opportunity for expansion by slamming your face into it repeatedly.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Hope.

DICKENS: Woodpecker.

COULTON: Yes, that's right.

(APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: You'll never feel like an empty nester in this environmentally sustainable penthouse made from regurgitated bark. Homeowners will enjoy resting in paper-like cells after a long day of terrorizing humans. Oh, interesting. How about a hint? It's not the kind with boat shoes.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: That's the weirdest hint I've ever heard.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Sorry. That was not helpful. I apologize.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: They have stingers.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Iliya.

SMITHKA: Could it be bees in a bee hive with their stingers and their regurgitated wooden walls that bees throw up?

EISENBERG: Sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry.

SMITHKA: Oh, that's so weird.

EISENBERG: I want to say yes, but I can't. Hope, can you steal?

DICKENS: No idea.

EISENBERG: We were looking for the nastier version of a bee, I guess you could say - a wasp.

SMITHKA: That's fair.

EISENBERG: A wasp, yeah. They just sting and sting and sting and sting and sting and sting...

COULTON: They do.

EISENBERG: And then just fly off.

COULTON: Yep, those stupid boat shoes.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: Are you sick of the Internet mislabeling you as a dramatic chipmunk? Well, move away from your troubles to the trendy North American grasslands. This space has an underground tunnel system that sleeps several hundred. Cone-shaped mounds of soil at the entrances provide a stunning view of nearby predators.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

COULTON: Hope.

DICKENS: Prairie dog.

COULTON: Yeah, you got it.

EISENBERG: Yeah.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: This is your last clue. This subterranean co-op requires its members to work. But numerous interconnected chambers are worth it, situated mere steps from an unguarded human picnic.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

EISENBERG: Hope.

DICKENS: Ants.

EISENBERG: Yes, that is right.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Great game. Hope is in the lead.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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