Speeches And Songs: Oscars Edition Comedians Mitra Jouhari (Three Busy Debras) and Whitmer Thomas (The Golden One) play an audio game that mashes up movie monologues with popular songs.

Speeches And Songs: Oscars Edition

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JONATHAN COULTON, BYLINE: Hey, everybody. Jonathan Coulton just sitting around here feeling a little lonely. So I think I'm going to call my pal Ophira Eisenberg, host of NPR's ASK ME ANOTHER. See if she's around.



What's going on?

COULTON: Ophira, hi.


COULTON: How you doing?

EISENBERG: What a surprise.

COULTON: I'm not bothering you, am I?


COULTON: You in the middle of something?

EISENBERG: Yeah, I'm totally in the middle of watching time dry.


EISENBERG: How are...


COULTON: It takes a long time.

EISENBERG: It's - wow. It goes slow. How are you doing?



COULTON: I was just sitting around here feeling bored because, you know, not a lot to do.

EISENBERG: True. True. Yeah.

COULTON: And I thought I'd check in and see how you were doing.

EISENBERG: OK. Yeah. I'm OK. Just - I have to say, because we were doing - you know, like everybody else, it's just been comfort. What's comforting? A lot of bread. And then we did cookies. Definitely have been drinking quite a lot of wine.


EISENBERG: Matter of fact, I had to scale back on drinking wine at night...


EISENBERG: ...Because, A, I couldn't afford it.



EISENBERG: It's just pricey. And also, I'd completely lost my tolerance.


COULTON: That's the worst. Right. You're a half bottle in, and you're like, what's happening? Where's the wine?

EISENBERG: (Laughter) Yes. Exactly. All right, I guess I'm ready to do some math. You know, like, I...


EISENBERG: But I feel like this week, I was like, I don't want pizza. I want to eat healthy.


EISENBERG: I'm starting to - yeah - feel like...

COULTON: You feel like you're - it's starting to turn from the all bets are off, anything to get through it. You're starting to turn from that to a more long-term, like, I really need to take care of myself in spite of the situation. I feel that drive.


COULTON: But I'm trying to think if I've actually done anything in my life to head in that direction.


COULTON: And I feel like I probably haven't.

EISENBERG: Wouldn't you love to feel tired? Like, not weary or broken down, but just tired?


COULTON: Just plain, old tired? Like, I've been awake long enough, not like kind of, like...

EISENBERG: (Laughter) Yeah, like, I've been doing things in a certain way that would tire me out.

COULTON: (Laughter) Yeah. Instead of I've-been-sitting-here-and-I've-had-it feeling.

EISENBERG: Yeah. I - yeah, I'm certainly not - what am I losing over here? I'm losing - I've been losing my patience a lot with my dear child.

COULTON: Aww. It is hard being in a house with your family all the time. It just is.

EISENBERG: You know, it turns out we've been living together under the same roof for four years. But it also turns out we have never lived together, actually.

COULTON: That's true. Now we have to do all our counting to 10 in front of each other, which is, like - nobody likes to see that.

EISENBERG: (Laughter).

COULTON: Are you counting? Dad, are you counting? Yes. Give me a second.

EISENBERG: Yeah (laughter).

COULTON: I'm only on seven, eight...

EISENBERG: Now you made me lose track.

COULTON: Now I have to start over. I hope you're happy.

EISENBERG: Ten, nine...


COULTON: But speaking of holding it together, I wonder if you would do me the favor of providing my life with a little normalcy. Let me ask you...

EISENBERG: (Laughter) Yeah.

COULTON: ...Is it OK if I play the song?

EISENBERG: Oh. The song.

COULTON: Let's play the song, and then we'll do a show.


COULTON: From NPR and WNYC, coming to you from our respective homes in beautiful Brooklyn, N.Y., it's NPR's hour of puzzles, word games and infrequent bathing - ASK ME ANOTHER. I'm Jonathan Coulton. Now here's your host - Ophira Eisenberg.


EISENBERG: Thanks, Jonathan. We have an amazing episode for you. Joining us from the inside of his fringed mask, we'll talk to country musician Orville Peck and, from the podcast "Crazy; In Bed," comedians Alyssa Limperis and May Wilkerson, plus a special game from one of our youngest listeners. But first, coming to us together, we have comedian Mitra Jouhari of Adult Swim's "Three Busy Debras" and comedian Whitmer Thomas, whose comedy special, "The Golden One," is on HBO.


EISENBERG: Let's welcome on the line, remote from their home, we have Mitra Jouhari and Whitmer Thomas. Hello.



EISENBERG: So how are you guys doing? How's it going?

JOUHARI: It's all right. I feel like we've - like, on any given day, it's much harder or much easier. Whit, I would say, does better with anxiety and existential dread than I do.

EISENBERG: (Laughter).

JOUHARI: But I enjoy cooking more. So...


THOMAS: I have a pretty annoying personality.


THOMAS: And I think that Mitra already knew that going into this. So I think you were prepared for me to be, like, hopping up and down and yelling and, you know, doing dances and not talking in my real voice for seven hours straight.

EISENBERG: (Laughter) You don a character just to mix things up for a while?

THOMAS: Oh, yeah.

EISENBERG: Are they any particular voices or are they all made-up characters? Like, I know from - you know, that you're good at impressions (laughter).

THOMAS: I think they're made-up characters that have no real writing to them. It's mostly just like, this is a guy named Pork. Or...


THOMAS: And I just get obsessed with saying, I'm Pork.

JOUHARI: Yeah. Whit'll latch onto a word for a couple days. We've been watching "Righteous Gemstones," which is very good...


JOUHARI: ...And very, very funny. But there's a song that is in "Righteous Gemstones" that has been sort of on loop but with fake lyrics and not real words.


JOUHARI: It's sort of, like, a scat-type situation (laughter).


THOMAS: It's very much a scat. And the song's called "Misbehaving," that the characters sing in that show. And so the melody is like, buh-buh-dee-doo-deedle-deedle-deedle-dee (ph). And so I'll just go, like, ate a little pork, and my name is Pork.

EISENBERG: (Laughter).

THOMAS: And I don't know why. But pork right now is funny, the name pork.

JOUHARI: It's funny.

COULTON: (Laughter).

EISENBERG: I think pork always good - very funny, very funny. It all comes together full circle.


EISENBERG: And, Mitra, how's work going? - because you've been working on your series "Three Busy Debras," right?

JOUHARI: Yeah. We're - I've been in writers rooms for the whole quarantine, basically.


JOUHARI: So mostly very positive. You know, it's really nice to have a place to, quote, unquote, "go" every day. The ways that I've been making it feel like I'm going to work every day are so bleak. I bought a new pair of shoes. And they're my work shoes. They only exist in my bedroom, which is where I work. I put on my work shoes, and then I'm at work. And then I take them off...

EISENBERG: High heels?

JOUHARI: ...When work is over.

EISENBERG: High heels?

JOUHARI: Yeah, sort of some sexy Louboutins.

EISENBERG: I figured.


JOUHARI: Just white sneakers.


EISENBERG: Good - all right. Not like we haven't warmed up - but we are going to warm up with a game. Let's warm up with a game. Your first game is an audio game. We're going to play you a clip of an Oscar-winning film and a clip from a pop song. You're just going to tell us the movie and the song and the artist or just any one of those things or a thought you've had.

JOUHARI: (Laughter) Amazing.

THOMAS: OK. This sounds really fun.


JOUHARI: A soft place to land.

EISENBERG: (Laughter) Exactly. Whit, this one's for you.


PETER FINCH: (As Howard Beale) I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out and yell, I'm as mad as hell. And I'm...


TWISTED SISTER: (Singing) Not gonna take it. No. We ain't gonna take it. We're not gonna take it anymore.

THOMAS: Well, the song is Twisted Sister.

EISENBERG: That is correct - the artist.

THOMAS: And the movie is also called "Twisted Sister."


THOMAS: I don't know the name of that movie, though. (Imitating Howard Beale) I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it.


THOMAS: Maybe I'll start running around the house talking like that, though.

EISENBERG: That's a great impression.

JOUHARI: Can't wait.

THOMAS: Thank you.


EISENBERG: You get a point - Twisted Sister - "We're Not Gonna Take It" - correct. And the movie is "Network."

THOMAS: Oh, whoa. "Network" - one of my favorite movies.


THOMAS: Truly, one of my favorite movies.

EISENBERG: I mean, I was looking at that clue. And I was like, first of all, this is no time to not take it. This is the time right now in history to take it. We should be taking it.


COULTON: We have to take it.

THOMAS: Also, a great opportunity to read "Making Movies" by Sidney Lumet...

EISENBERG: Oh, yeah.

THOMAS: ...Who directed "Network."

EISENBERG: That's right. You do know...


THOMAS: I just want everybody to know that I know about "Network." I'm cool.

COULTON: Yeah. You know the movie. You love the movie. And also, you read a book about the movie. You just don't know that famous quote from it.



COULTON: All right, Mitra. This 1995 movie won the Oscar for best picture.


MEL GIBSON: (As William Wallace) Would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance - just one chance to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they'll never take our...


GEORGE MICHAEL: (Singing) Freedom - I won't let you down. Freedom - I will not give you up - gotta have some faith in the sound. You gotta give for what you take. It's the one good thing that I got.

THOMAS: You know.

EISENBERG: You know so much. I can tell.

JOUHARI: OK. So is that "Braveheart?"

COULTON: It certainly is.

JOUHARI: Wow. Thank you for that.


JOUHARI: I guarantee I haven't seen any of the movies. But at least that guy had a Scottish accent, so (laughter)...

COULTON: Yes. Yes. That helped narrow it down for sure.


COULTON: And Mitra, do you want to take a guess on the song or the artist?

JOUHARI: Is it called "Freedom?"

COULTON: It is called "Freedom."

EISENBERG: (Laughter) Sure is.

COULTON: George Michael.

EISENBERG: George Michael.

JOUHARI: Yay. Wow (laughter).

EISENBERG: OK. Whitt, this 1954 film won best picture.


MARLON BRANDO: (As Terry Malloy) You don't understand. I could've had class. I could've been a contender. I could have been...


SMASH MOUTH: (Singing) Somebody once told me the world is gonna roll me.

THOMAS: Really good.


SMASH MOUTH: (Singing) I ain't the sharpest tool in the shed.

THOMAS: Here's my perfect Marlon Brando - just, you know...


THOMAS: (Unintelligible).


THOMAS: I could've had class.


THOMAS: All right. The song is "All Star" by Smash Mouth.



THOMAS: And that movie is "On The Waterfront."

EISENBERG: All correct.

THOMAS: I was going to say "River's Edge," but...

EISENBERG: (Laughter).

JOUHARI: And I would've guessed "The Contenders."


COULTON: Very different film.

EISENBERG: Well, "On The River Edge" is, of, course the prequel. And "The Contenders" is the sequel.


COULTON: Very different film. Mitra, this 1950 movie won the Oscar for best original screenplay.


GLORIA SWANSON: (As Norma Desmond) And I promise you I'll never desert you again because after Salome, we'll make another picture and another...


OUTKAST: (Singing) ...Picture. Hey ya. Shake it. Shake it. Shake it. Shake it. Shake it. Shake it. Shake it like a Polaroid picture. Hey ya. Shake it...

JOUHARI: So we've got "Hey Ya" by OutKast...

COULTON: That's right.


JOUHARI: ...And the most jarring transition from movie to song thus far, I think.


EISENBERG: Yeah. Totally.

JOUHARI: And I couldn't tell you the movie (laughter).

EISENBERG: OK. It's all right.

COULTON: It's a movie about the relationship between a struggling screenwriter - a dude - and a fading, silent movie star - a lady.


COULTON: Gloria Swanson as Norma Desmond.

EISENBERG: A well-known GIF (laughter) - she's a well-known GIF at this point.

COULTON: A well-known GIF.

THOMAS: Is the name of it a famous street?




JOUHARI: Um (laughter).

THOMAS: We were on it the other day.

JOUHARI: Hollywood Boulevard.



JOUHARI: Sunset Boulevard.



EISENBERG: As you might suspect, you're tied at the end of this game.

THOMAS: That's important for us.


EISENBERG: After the break, we'll play another game with comedians Mitra Jouhari and Whitmer Thomas. And later, I will put on a cowboy hat for my conversation with masked country musician Orville Peck. I'm Ophira Eisenberg. And this is ASK ME ANOTHER from NPR.


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