OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:
JONATHAN COULTON: Oh, hello, Ophira.
EISENBERG: Hello. How you doing this week?
COULTON: I'm doing OK.
COULTON: The same as last week. Nothing has changed. It's all the same.
EISENBERG: You look good. You look showered.
COULTON: No, no, I don't. It's kind of you to say that, but I know it's not true. That's absolutely not true. I haven't showered in about 15 days.
EISENBERG: (Laughter) Well, it must be that enhanced look function on Zoom.
COULTON: That's what it is. It's just - I'm airbrushed.
EISENBERG: That's what it is (laughter). I don't know if you have other Zoom calls to get to, but I was wondering, would you like to do a show.
COULTON: I'm pretty busy doing a lot of other things, but OK. Yeah, no, let's do a show. I would love to.
EISENBERG: Let's do a show.
COULTON: Hang on. Let me - I got to put my On Air sign on my door.
COULTON: Stand by.
EISENBERG: That's hilarious. That's hilarious. You've created an On Air sign?
COULTON: I had to.
EISENBERG: Aww. I like that you didn't choose, you know, busy or don't enter.
COULTON: On air.
EISENBERG: On air. Very professional.
COULTON: 'Cause it's radio, man.
EISENBERG: It's very professional.
COULTON: OK. (Playing guitar) From NPR and WNYC, coming to you from inside our respective homes in beautiful Brooklyn, N.Y., it's NPR's hour of puzzles word games and eating old beans, ASK ME ANOTHER, Play From Home Edition. I'm Jonathan Coulton. Now here's your host, Ophira Eisenberg.
EISENBERG: Beans. So many beans. Remember when we thought we were all just going to eat beans? That was going to be how we got through this?
EISENBERG: You know what's not really appreciated right now? A five-bean salad.
COULTON: (Laughter) Yeah. Yeah, I agree. Why use all five beans? Like, just cook one bean and eat that...
EISENBERG: (Laughter) It's too many beans.
COULTON: ...Out of the pot, over the sink. That's what I do.
COULTON: So you've been inside, obviously, with your family for yet another week. How's it going?
EISENBERG: It's fine. It's...
COULTON: It's funny to watch this evolve from us all being in the house together and participating as a family together - it's sort of like this focused family time and, like, playing games and, like - and then as time progresses, we're like, no, we still need alone time. And we sort of had all silently figured out how to navigate that.
EISENBERG: Yeah. You know what? Last week, Jonathan and I were arguing a bit. And we were stressed. And things felt more tense. This week, we're much better. We're hitting a stride. But I have - I still, you know, get frustrated and need somewhere to go. And I can't go anywhere, so I'm practicing inner screaming, where you just close your eyes, and you scream inside.
COULTON: (Laughter). Is this your own plan for mental health? Or did you pick this up somewhere?
COULTON: Because it doesn't sound like it would be that helpful.
EISENBERG: I haven't read about it anywhere. You think it's unhelpful? You would be surprised.
COULTON: (Laughter) Just a silent inner scream?
EISENBERG: Yeah. Just close your eyes for a second and scream inside.
COULTON: Yeah. And just let loose all that anxiety and anger into your own body.
EISENBERG: (Laughter) Exactly.
COULTON: It's good.
COULTON: And then your body will absorb it.
EISENBERG: Body absorbs it. You open your mouth, and just a short breath, relaxed breath comes out, and that's how it's been changed on a molecular level.
COULTON: Yeah. And it sounds - when that short breath comes out, it sounds like this - fine.
EISENBERG: OK. No, it's good.
COULTON: That's my go-to - my wife has recently pointed out to me that that is how I say no. She says, do you want to do this thing? And I say, we could do that. That means no, I don't want to do that thing.
EISENBERG: (Laughter) Oh, that's some passive stuff.
COULTON: Yeah, no, I'm a crazy person. I'm awful to live with.
EISENBERG: (Laughter). You know, why don't we spend time with other couples? Why don't we call up our friends in relationships and see how they're doing?
COULTON: Do you know what? I'm pretty sick of my own relationship. Let's drop in on some other relationships.
EISENBERG: (Laughter). Yeah. And then we'll give them a game to play, and that will give them something else to think about.
COULTON: To fight about.
EISENBERG: To think about. To fight about. Thank you.
COULTON: To think about. Yes, no, you're right.
EISENBERG: To think about. And guess what? We have a guest. We were supposed to have her at the Bell House in Brooklyn, but she is here with us today. The Emmy Award-winning star of "Will And Grace" - Debra Messing is going to join us.
EISENBERG: All right. Let's call up some friends, play some games and have a good time.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
EISENBERG: Thankfully, this couple is available. And they're not only a couple. They host a podcast called Couples Therapy, where they talk about relationships with comedians themselves. It's both life-affirming and funny, which is a nice combination, not like my therapy. We have...
EISENBERG: ...Andy Beckerman and Naomi Ekperigin. Hey.
NAOMI EKPERIGIN: Hi.
EISENBERG: Hi, guys. Hi. So you're obviously in your house.
EKPERIGIN: Yes, yes.
EISENBERG: How's that?
ANDY BECKERMAN: Self-quarantine day 18.
EISENBERG: Day 18. You're in Los Angeles.
EKPERIGIN: Yes, we are.
BECKERMAN: Which is already a city of self-quarantine.
EKPERIGIN: It works out really well.
EISENBERG: I was telling these guys that I had a stranger talk to me - from 6 feet away. And it was just something nice. They were like, oh, look over by that tree. There's a eagle's nest.
EISENBERG: And I was like, oh, this is so heartwarming - a conversation with a stranger. You know, this is - like, i'm missing this.
EISENBERG: And then he was like, isn't it amazing how Mother Nature continually rejuvenates the Earth and provides? And I was like, not this guy.
EISENBERG: We just don't get along normally. So it's not going to start now.
BECKERMAN: Did he have, like, a stack of Nietzsche books with him?
EISENBERG: Yeah, that he was tossing out (laughter) - 16 in every direction.
EKPERIGIN: (Laughter) To anyone who would take them. It is so funny the little conversations you're having now, being bored 'cause I'm really - ooh, I'll tell Andy any thought in my head.
EISENBERG: Oh, yeah, so you're a couple - couple in captivity. How's it going?
BECKERMAN: It could be worse. Like, it's actually not bad. We've had, in 18 days, two arguments. I think that's about it.
EKPERIGIN: Yeah. We had two arguments. It was, like, real uncomfortable, though, because we got in an argument and then I just, like, went in the bedroom. You know what I mean? Like, I just, like, sat there and was like, well, I guess this is...
EKPERIGIN: ...Where I go to cool out, where I think, normally, I would have left the house.
EKPERIGIN: Or I would have, like, gone and, like, met a friend. You know what I mean? Like, I was like, I'm going to get a drink and then cool out. (Laughter) And then this time, it was like...
EKPERIGIN: Well, I'll just sit in the bedroom until you forgive me, I guess.
EISENBERG: Oh, yeah.
COULTON: Yeah, I'm going to the other side of the couch for a while.
EKPERIGIN: I like actually hanging out with people via Zoom now because you can, like - I'm at home. We're talking. But I could just get up and go get something from my fridge. I love that. We should all be at home but hanging out with people, but they're not in our house.
EISENBERG: Yeah. Don't have to clean up after they leave. Don't have to get there. Yeah, everything's acceptable.
EISENBERG: Right. The only problem I have is you can't leave.
EKPERIGIN: OK, OK.
EISENBERG: It's really weird to leave.
COULTON: You know what you can do, though? You can always just fake an Internet outage. It's very easy. You just...
COULTON: Just leave the meeting, and then you text somebody and you're like, oh, sorry, my Internet went out.
EISENBERG: Do you guys want to play a game? Do you want to just do a little escapist quiz?
EKPERIGIN: Ooh, I would love to. We need competition. We need a healthy competition right now.
EISENBERG: (Laughter) OK. So your podcast is called "Couples Therapy."
EISENBERG: We have a audio quiz for you called Teletherapy. So basically, we're going to play a clip of a TV therapist, and you're just going to identify the show.
EKPERIGIN: OK. Ready.
EISENBERG: All right. All right. OK, let's start with an easy one. This is for you, Andy.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "FRASIER")
KELSEY GRAMMER: (As Dr. Frasier Crane) Hello, Claire (ph). I'm listening.
BECKERMAN: Oh, "Frasier."
EISENBERG: "Frasier" - that's right.
EISENBERG: Frasier Crane. Were you a fan of that show? Did you ever watch that show in its...
BECKERMAN: I watched it for many years.
BECKERMAN: And then Niles and Daphne got together.
BECKERMAN: And I was like, it's ruined.
EKPERIGIN: OK. I will say, actually, one of our fights, you guys, was I told Andy he's a Niles, and then he said...
BECKERMAN: (Laughter) Not wrong.
EKPERIGIN: He said I was Eddie the dog.
COULTON: Oh, yeah. That's...
COULTON: That's pretty harsh.
COULTON: I mean, in fairness, it was a cute dog. It was a cute dog who did a lot of tricks.
EKPERIGIN: No. OK? Because if I am anyone, I am Marty Crane, OK?
EKPERIGIN: I'm sitting in my chair, and I am saying, don't bother me. And so...
BECKERMAN: And he was a - he's a police detective. And that's what you want to be, a police detective.
EKPERIGIN: That's true. Oh, I love my procedurals.
EISENBERG: Oh, that's right.
EKPERIGIN: That's true.
EISENBERG: I wanted to be the woman that he did the radio show with. Roz? Roz. Roz?
EKPERIGIN: Oh, my God. You're such a Roz.
EISENBERG: Thanks. Thank you.
BECKERMAN: I feel like we're a BuzzFeed quiz now.
EISENBERG: All right.
COULTON: Now is your chance, Naomi.
EKPERIGIN: OK, OK.
COULTON: Here we go. This is for you. The comic who plays the therapist in this clip won a best guest actress Emmy for the role.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "ALLY MCBEAL")
CALISTA FLOCKHART: (As Ally McBeal) I committed adultery. I betrayed a friend. I'm an awful person.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: (As character) Ally, every patient that comes into this office thinks that he or she is the world's biggest loser. For the first time, I agree
EISENBERG: There's a hint in the clue - the name.
EKPERIGIN: I know. Ally. Oh. Oh, God, I don't know.
EISENBERG: Do you want a hint?
EISENBERG: Dancing baby.
EKPERIGIN: Oh. Oh, fudge.
COULTON: It is an old show.
EISENBERG: OK. "Ally McBeal."
COULTON: "Ally McBeal" is correct.
EKPERIGIN: But what I remember loving - do you know Ally McBeal took a black lover? You know she was with Jesse L. Martin, who played Collins in the original cast of "Rent," who went on to become such a star.
EKPERIGIN: I just remember thinking, look at that little boney Calista with a black lover.
EKPERIGIN: I was, like, very into it.
EISENBERG: All right. Andy, this Comedy Central show was animated in Squigglevision.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "DR. KATZ, PROFESSIONAL THERAPIST")
JONATHAN KATZ: (As Dr. Katz) What is it that prompted you to come to therapy?
WANDA SYKES: (As character) I got a lot of things on my mind. I'm going through a divorce.
KATZ: (As Dr. Katz) That must be very painful.
SYKES: (As character) Actually, it's very liberating.
KATZ: (As Dr. Katz) That was my next guest.
SYKES: (As character) Yeah.
BECKERMAN: Of course, "Dr. Katz." And can I get extra points if I can identify that that was Wanda Sykes?
EISENBERG: Yeah. Oh, yes. Extra points. I mean, there are no points at all anymore in our current...
COULTON: What's the point?
EISENBERG: But yes, correct and correct.
COULTON: All right. Naomi, this is the last clip, and it's for you.
COULTON: This is from a long-running HBO show.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE SOPRANOS")
LORRAINE BRACCO: (As Dr. Jennifer Melfi) What line of work are you in?
JAMES GANDOLFINI: (As Tony Soprano) Waste management consultant.
EKPERIGIN: Oh. Oh, oh, oh. "Sopranos."
COULTON: "Sopranos" - that's correct.
EKPERIGIN: Yeah. I want to tell you a truth.
EISENBERG: I know...
EKPERIGIN: Never seen it. Ooh.
COULTON: You're kidding me.
EISENBERG: It's OK.
EKPERIGIN: Ooh, yeah, Jonathan.
COULTON: Neither one of you or - Andy, have you seen it?
BECKERMAN: I've seen it, yes. But I saw it back in the day, when the only shows on TV were white male anti-heroes.
COULTON: Yeah. Right. Of course.
EISENBERG: All right. Well, guess what? You guys are tied.
EISENBERG: You know, we are keeping light track of everything, and you're tied. I know. It's a perfect match...
EKPERIGIN: Yay. That's good.
EISENBERG: ...Or - perfect match or a perfect fight. I don't know which way you want to go.
EISENBERG: But we have another game. We have another game.
BECKERMAN: We boost each other up. So it's the perfect match.
EKPERIGIN: Thank you so much.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
EISENBERG: Coming up after the break, we'll play another game with Naomi Ekperigin and Andy Beckerman, and we'll call up another pair of couple-testants (ph), Janie Haddad Tompkins and Paul F. Tompkins. And later in the show, we'll talk with star of stage and screen Debra Messing because, let's be honest, we could all use a little bit of "Will & Grace" right now. Oh, I could. I'm Ophira Eisenberg, and this is ASK ME ANOTHER from NPR.
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