To Thinkpiece Or Not To Thinkpiece Maria Bamford (Lady Dynamite) and Jackie Kashian (The Jackie and Laurie Show) update the titles of Shakespeare plays as search engine-friendly, clickbait-y headlines.
NPR logo

To Thinkpiece Or Not To Thinkpiece

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
To Thinkpiece Or Not To Thinkpiece

To Thinkpiece Or Not To Thinkpiece

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

JONATHAN COULTON: This is NPR's ASK ME ANOTHER. I'm Jonathan Coulton. Here's your host, Ophira Eisenberg.


Thanks, Jonathan. We're here with comedians Jackie Kashian and Maria Bamford. Do you guys want to play another game?


COULTON: (Laughter).

EISENBERG: All right. This is a guessing game. It's called to think piece or not to think piece. We're going to be competing, so we'll go back and forth. So you're going to help us update the titles of some Shakespeare plays to improve search engine optimization and get maximum clickthroughs.


JACKIE KASHIAN: Oh. All right.

EISENBERG: So we're going to give you the original title and two pitches for the new title. You just tell us which one fits the best. And if you just want to pitch us your own variant that will definitely get a point.

BAMFORD: OK, so, like, "Much Snakes About Guam."


KASHIAN: You're already winning.

EISENBERG: All right. Maria, this one is for you.

BAMFORD: I am playing for America.


EISENBERG: OK, Maria. Here's the play - "The Merchant Of Venice."


COULTON: Good play.

EISENBERG: All right. Is the new title either A, "Lose A Pound Of Flesh With This One Weird Trick" or B, "These Married Women Break Their Silence About Falstaff"?

BAMFORD: Lose a pound of flesh.

EISENBERG: That's it.

BAMFORD: Yeah. Yeah.


BAMFORD: Got it.

EISENBERG: That is correct.

BAMFORD: (Vocalizing).

EISENBERG: "Merchant of Venice."

BAMFORD: I believe I was in that play.

COULTON: Oh, really? Did you do - you did some Shakespeare?

BAMFORD: Oh, yes. I was in a lot of Shakespeare productions in college, but I can't quite remember what I was - what I played.

KASHIAN: Oh, that's amazing.



EISENBERG: The heroine?

BAMFORD: No, no. It was always a monologue from a nun or...


KASHIAN: I would've been a Roman Soldier Number Three.


COULTON: All right. Jackie, this one's for you. The Shakespeare play is "Taming Of The Shrew." And the possible new titles are A, "10 Misogynist Things I Hate About This Play" or B, A Spanish City Banned Women, And Here's What Happened."

KASHIAN: Well, it's A. It's 10 whatever because...

COULTON: Misogynist things I hate about this play. You are correct.

KASHIAN: Yes. How many romance novels have been hacked from that play, which, by the way, was hacked...

EISENBERG: (Laughter).

KASHIAN: ...From the love stories of ancient Greek - there's always - you know, the rom-com - that structure has been (laughter) around since, oh, Egyptology days.

COULTON: (Laughter) I guess that's true. Meet-cutes have been with us forever.


EISENBERG: OK. Maria, the Shakespeare play is "Henry VI." Is it A, "20-Second Songs To Sing While You Wash Out That Damned Spot" or B, "Why Killing All The Lawyers May Not Be A Good Idea After All."


EISENBERG: Yeah, B. That's right. A is "Macbeth."


EISENBERG: And in - right, that controversial line, of course, is the rebel Dick The Butcher says, the first thing we do, let's kill the lawyers. And everyone loves that line, right?

KASHIAN: It's a meme.

BAMFORD: It's not fair 'cause there are some wonderful lawyers out there who do, you know, family law and immigration law.


COULTON: That's a good point, yeah.

BAMFORD: I know a lawyer named Lev Ginsburg who's done some wonderful work with my contracts.

COULTON: (Laughter).

EISENBERG: Thank you, Lev.


COULTON: All right. This is your last question, and it is for you, Jackie.


COULTON: "Much Ado About Nothing." Possible new titles - A, "That Feeling When You Ask Your New Boyfriend To Kill Claudio And He Won't Do It" or B, "How I Survived A Shipwreck And Found Love And A Magical Sprite."

KASHIAN: OK. The second one is, I believe, "The Tempest." So I'm going to go with A.


KASHIAN: Yeah. How did I pull that out of my ear?


COULTON: You are correct.


COULTON: A dazzling display of Shakespearean knowledge. Impressive.

EISENBERG: It's - before there was "Seinfeld," there was - that's what "Seinfeld" is based on, right?

BAMFORD: Yeah (laughter).

KASHIAN: Oh, right, right.

COULTON: That's right.


KASHIAN: Right. A sitcom...

BAMFORD: I thought that was "Waiting For Godot."


EISENBERG: Thank you, guys. That's it.

BAMFORD: All right.

EISENBERG: What a joy has been brought to my day with you two. Thank you so much, Maria Bamford, Jackie Kashian. Thank you.

KASHIAN: Thank you.

BAMFORD: We did it. Woo.


Copyright © 2020 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.