Funky Stuff Friend-testants Aimee Mann and Michael Penn join Jonathan Coulton in a game that rewrites funk songs to be about things that are funky.

Funky Stuff

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OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

And we have two more friends on the line with us. We have power couple singer-songwriter-composers Aimee Mann and Michael Penn. Hello.

AIMEE MANN: Good morning.

MICHAEL PENN: Hello.

EISENBERG: How's it going? How's it going? How are you guys managing?

MANN: What kind of pandemic are we having?

EISENBERG: Yeah. What kind of pandemic are you having?

MANN: Michael has been very productive. Like, he's always working. He has a home studio, and he's always working. And I have just been kind of wandering around the house in shock.

PENN: Being in a home studio doesn't necessarily mean one is productive.

MANN: Michael has the appearance of working every day.

PENN: That's right. That's what it is.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: By the way, I don't know what room you're in, but that's a nice built-in bookshelf, I'm just going to say.

MANN: This is Michael's studio, and it's soundproofed, and it's got a secret bookcase door.

EISENBERG: No way.

MANN: Uh-huh. 'Cause, you know...

JONATHAN COULTON: I've seen the secret bookcase door. It's fantastic.

MANN: It's pretty great.

EISENBERG: Where does it go to?

MANN: Well, you go - from the kitchen - the kitchen is kind of connected with a little library, which serves as the dining area. And so the bookcase sort of makes sense with the dining room. So then you go through the bookcase and - here you are - into the secret studio.

EISENBERG: Like you live within the board game Clue.

MANN: Yes.

PENN: (Laughter).

MANN: Yeah. Yeah.

EISENBERG: You know, we've been also talking to other people that are - couples that are together through this time. And it sounds like you guys are used to being at home together a lot of the time, so I'm sure your relationship already exists in that world. But has anything new come up, more arguments?

MANN: No. I actually feel...

EISENBERG: Cooking together?

COULTON: Fewer arguments? (Laughter).

MANN: There's definitely a feeling of relief that this is the person I am quarantined with...

PENN: Yeah, ditto.

MANN: ...And not other people.

EISENBERG: Oh, yeah.

(LAUGHTER)

MANN: One thinks about other people and one goes, oh, boy, that would be such a problem.

PENN: Yeah.

EISENBERG: Yeah. I'm also realizing that - you know, we bought a bunch of food, and I'm not used to having this much food in my fridge. And I am really bad at understanding how long things...

MANN: Yeah.

EISENBERG: ...Start to rot.

MANN: Every time Michael buys bananas, I go through the same shock at how fast bananas ripen.

(LAUGHTER)

MANN: What? These bananas, you just got them a week ago. Like, yeah, bananas - you buy them when they're green, and then they turn a different color over a series of days.

(LAUGHTER)

PENN: Well, in my defense, the only reason I bought new bananas is because she separated the bunch of bananas and hid them in different places.

MANN: I was trying...

PENN: So I didn't know we had any.

MANN: Because I was trying - because I looked up, like, how to keep bananas from ripening fast.

EISENBERG: Oh, I thought it was some sort of quarantine scavenger hunt.

(LAUGHTER)

MANN: Yeah. That's right. Yeah. It's like I'm hiding my nuts.

EISENBERG: From your experiment, which bananas ripened quicker than the others?

MANN: It feels like it all - like, first of all, you're supposed to wrap the stems in plastic or foil or something...

EISENBERG: Oh, yeah. Right.

COULTON: Oh, boy.

MANN: ...And also separate them. And I feel like that didn't do anything. All that effort did nothing.

EISENBERG: All that effort (laughter). Hours.

COULTON: Stupid bananas.

EISENBERG: Hours upon hours.

MANN: Hours of banana separation came to not.

PENN: Wasted.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: All right. Hey, did you guys want to play a couple games with us?

MANN: I mean, not really. But we will.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Great. Great. Great. Let's - you know what? That is the closest to yes I could expect from anyone right now.

COULTON: Yeah. We'll take it. We'll take it. It's fine.

EISENBERG: We have a music parody game for you.

MANN: Fantastic.

EISENBERG: We have Jonathan Coulton willing to play live.

PENN: Yeah.

EISENBERG: Actually, I was just thinking, Jonathan...

COULTON: Yeah.

EISENBERG: ...You must be very happy right now that you are a solo artist. Like, I know you play as part of a band. You and Aimee have played duets before.

COULTON: Yeah.

EISENBERG: But right now, being a solo artist...

COULTON: Yeah.

EISENBERG: ...Is really...

COULTON: It makes it possible for me to, you know, continue my craft...

EISENBERG: Right.

COULTON: ...Even though I'm alone.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: It's true.

MANN: Just - you need to get, like, a foot tambourine and cymbals, you know, that you play with your knees.

EISENBERG: (Laughter).

COULTON: Yeah, like a bass drum that I wear on my back.

PENN: Yeah. Exactly.

MANN: Exactly.

COULTON: Stomp around.

EISENBERG: Like, like this is...

COULTON: Smash, smash, smash - that kind of sound.

PENN: Then get a monkey.

(LAUGHTER)

MANN: Make the monkey play it all.

EISENBERG: Quarantine with a monkey.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: Yeah.

MANN: What could go wrong?

COULTON: Yeah, I feel - my heart goes out to all the organ grinders out there.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: So we rewrote funky songs to make them about funky things, as in strong-smelling things. So just tell me the stinky thing that I am singing about and-or the original song title or artist. And as just an aside, I have to say, if you had told young teenage me that someday I would be playing funk songs about stinky things for Aimee Mann and Michael Penn...

EISENBERG: Yeah.

COULTON: ...I would have thought you were crazy.

EISENBERG: Dreams come true.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: It's an honor. It's an honor.

MANN: I mean, that's a very specific thing to have said to anybody, so yes.

PENN: Yeah.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: It would be - even if you would told me last week, I might doubt it.

PENN: Yeah.

EISENBERG: (Laughter).

COULTON: But here we are. So this one is for you, Michael.

PENN: OK.

COULTON: (Singing) It's a very stinky fruit, native to Borneo and Sumatra. It's a delicacy, but it smells a lot like socks and poop.

PENN: "Super Freak." And jackfruit?

COULTON: Jackfruit is a fine guess. We were actually looking for durian.

EISENBERG: It's happened again. It's happened again, Jonathan Coulton. It's happened again.

COULTON: There was a time in a game where - when we were looking for jackfruit, and somebody said durian. And we didn't accept that answer, and then we got in trouble.

EISENBERG: We got more hate mail...

COULTON: Yeah.

EISENBERG: ...Than any other thing that's ever happened on this show.

PENN: Wow. Seriously?

MANN: I love that this has come up before.

PENN: Yeah, I know. Seriously.

(LAUGHTER)

MANN: Wow.

EISENBERG: Now...

COULTON: You do a trivia show long enough...

EISENBERG: Now you know (laughter).

COULTON: ...You run into the same issues.

PENN: And I also love that you adapted by deciding to go with the other one this time.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: And we're like, you know what?

COULTON: Fine. You want durian; we'll do durian. OK. Aimee, this one is for you.

(Singing) Stinking like the devil. I keep my shoulder stiff. I can't raise my hand up in case you get a whiff. My sweat glands have made me ruin my shirt again.

MANN: It's Sly Stone.

COULTON: That's right. That's right. You know what I'm singing about?

MANN: I mean, just armpits?

COULTON: Armpits is correct.

EISENBERG: Yeah.

MANN: It is correct.

COULTON: It is correct, yeah.

MANN: I wasn't sure what the target was, but OK.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Yeah.

COULTON: That sounds like a dig against my lyric writing. But I...

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Right. Currently, I would say that my armpits smell like midnight pasta or bottles of wine and not enough showers.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: That is - I'm really glad you told me that, Ophira. All right. Where are we? Here we go. Michael, this is for you.

PENN: OK.

COULTON: (Singing) This fossil fuel has got no smell. If you had a leak you could never tell. Someone smart added stuff that smells like fart.

EISENBERG: Yeah.

PENN: Huh. I'm not sure. I'm going to say gasoline.

COULTON: Natural gas is what we're looking for.

PENN: Natural gas, oh, OK. Well, James Brown.

COULTON: James Brown, that's right - "Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag."

PENN: Natural gas does not smell like fart to me.

MANN: Agree. I totally agree with that.

COULTON: That's fair. That's fair. I mean, it depends on the fart, too. Let's be honest.

PENN: Yeah.

EISENBERG: Sure. if you've just been eating eggs.

PENN: That's true. Or gas.

MANN: Or natural gas.

EISENBERG: Gas.

COULTON: Or gas. You swallowed a lot of natural gas. This is the last one. Aimee, this is for you.

EISENBERG: It's all riding on this.

MANN: Oh, boy.

COULTON: (Singing) Yes, he was minding his business, just eating grubs and earthworms. Then he saw a cougar, so he just turned around. And I sing, spray those funky scent glands, stripped boy. Right there near your anus, pew. Spray those funky scent glands, stripped boy. Lift up your fluff tail, and spray those funky chemicals, Le Pew.

MANN: (Laughter) Jesus Christ. This is really...

COULTON: I mean, dignity is overrated. Don't you think?

EISENBERG: It's amazing. It's amazing.

MANN: We have hit the apex of your talents with that.

COULTON: Oh, thank you so much.

MANN: Anyway, it's a skunk.

COULTON: It is a skunk, yeah. Do you know the name of the song?

MANN: "Play That Funky Music White Boy," is the song.

COULTON: That's right.

EISENBERG: Yeah.

COULTON: You got the name of the song. You got the stinky thing I was singing about. Well done.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: And not only that. Guess what? Aimee, you won.

MANN: I've never been so proud.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: Sound a little sarcastic but...

EISENBERG: I'm glad. I'm glad.

MANN: I hope there's some kind of trophy or a cup.

COULTON: No. We can't...

EISENBERG: Nope. Nothing.

COULTON: ...Give you anything that we touched, so you don't get anything. Just our appreciation.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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