I'd Like To Thank The Academy William Jackson Harper (The Good Place) and Yvonne Orji (Insecure) visit past Academy Awards ceremonies in an audio quiz about iconic Oscar speeches.

I'd Like To Thank The Academy

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Hey, everybody. I'm going to call my friend, Jonathan Coulton, and share some exciting news.


JONATHAN COULTON, BYLINE: Why, hello. It's my good friend, Ophira Eisenberg, from NPR's ASK ME ANOTHER. How are you?

EISENBERG: Good, Jonathan Coulton. I want to share with you something.


EISENBERG: See that?

COULTON: Are those...

EISENBERG: That, my friend...

COULTON: ...Car keys?

EISENBERG: I bought a car.

COULTON: Oh, my goodness.

EISENBERG: I know. It's exciting.

COULTON: Very exciting (laughter).

EISENBERG: I've had two cars in the past. And those were between the ages of 18 and 21.

COULTON: (Laughter) Just wait until you've parked it on the street in New York City for a couple of weeks (laughter).

EISENBERG: You know, so I drove it last night, as I do. And I did some street parking - you know, New York, it's always a thing. And I parked it. And someone stuck their head out the window and said, you know, that - I know it doesn't seem like it, but they tow cars from there. And I was like thank you, so nice.

COULTON: Yeah. That's nice. Yeah.

EISENBERG: That was a nice - they were just hanging out their window on the third floor...


EISENBERG: ...Looking at people (laughter).

COULTON: Yeah. People who don't live in New York City might not know how it works. But there's this thing called alternate-side parking.

EISENBERG: The craziest thing. I'd never heard about it before.

COULTON: (Laughter) They clean the streets on a regular basis. But the deal is is when it's time for street cleaning on the right side, everybody moves their car from the right side to double-park on the left side for two hours or whatever.

EISENBERG: Yeah (laughter).

COULTON: And there's a guy in our block, an older gentleman who's lived there for his whole life. And he is, like, the mayor of the block.

EISENBERG: (Laughter).

COULTON: And he is always, like, coming to my door and reminding me that it's time to move the car. Or, like, he sees a space. And he's like, oh, Johnny, you want to get that space, you know (laughter)? And it's great.


COULTON: And I will say, also, people double-park. And it doesn't necessarily look like it's double-parking day. And so what happens is people will come down the street...

EISENBERG: (Laughter).

COULTON: ...And sit behind an empty double-parked car...


COULTON: ...And honk their horns until...

EISENBERG: Like, move. Get going.

COULTON: Yeah. (Laughter) Yeah. There's nobody in the car. There's nobody in the car. They could easily go around, but they don't.

EISENBERG: (Laughter).

COULTON: And then I love to stride angrily out of my house and make the go-around gesture.

EISENBERG: (Laughter) Go around. See this finger?

COULTON: (Laughter).

EISENBERG: It's going to make a half-circle. You know what that means? That means I'm stressed about this (laughter).

COULTON: Count yourself lucky that I didn't use a different finger to give you the go-around gesture.

EISENBERG: You know, public radio listeners always talk about how much they miss car talk. So here you are, people. Listen to what I say.

COULTON: Yeah. This is...


COULTON: Why don't I play the new car talk theme that I've just now composed.

EISENBERG: Fantastic. Yes, please.


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

EISENBERG: Thank you, Jonathan.


EISENBERG: Listeners, I just want to let you know that we hear you. You have been shouting, put five Emmy winners and/or nominees on the same episode of ASK ME ANOTHER already. Well, you know what? We did it, OK? We have Joseph Gordon-Levitt. We have Tony Shalhoub and Luke Kirby from "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel." We have William Jackson Harper from "The Good Place" and Yvonne Orji from "Insecure." So count them, everybody - five.

COULTON: Wait a minute. I was nominated for an Emmy (laughter).

EISENBERG: That's six.

COULTON: We got six.

EISENBERG: And you know what? Once, in high school, someone called me Emmy. So that's kind of seven.

COULTON: That's seven. That's basically seven.

EISENBERG: There we go.


EISENBERG: I am so thrilled to welcome our first two contestants, returning champion William Jackson Harper, nominated for his role as the ethicist Chidi on "The Good Place," and first-time contestant Yvonne Orji, nominated for playing Molly on "Insecure." Hello.


YVONNE ORJI: Hello. Thanks for having me.

EISENBERG: William, I read that you found out about your Emmy nomination in the middle of a dog's psychic appointment.

ORJI: Wait.

HARPER: Yeah. So what happened was (laughter) our dog, he's...

EISENBERG: (Laughter).

ORJI: Yeah. We need to hear this story.

HARPER: He's not been himself lately. He's usually a very frisky, very active guy. And he's just been kind of...


HARPER: Yeah. Chico the dog. And so we called this psychic. And it was like a two-month waiting period to (laughter)...


HARPER: ...To talk to this woman. And we were like, OK. Well, we'll try it because, you know, we'd take him to the doctor - we tried all sorts of things just to see - we thought maybe he was upset with us. He was just bored because of quarantine. And she connected with him. And the things that she said that he was telling her (laughter) through the phone were...

COULTON: (Laughter).

HARPER: ...Those were the things that were actually wrong with him when we took him to the vet. And so I mean, I was all prepared to be a skeptic. But, you know, she called it.

EISENBERG: We have a question. Go ahead.

COULTON: Yvonne has a question. Yeah.

ORJI: I have a question. I had to raise my hand. Did he just have to bark three times, and then she, like, got into it? What...


HARPER: She just said, like, when I go online with him - this is how she phrased it - his eyes might flutter and, like, go into sort of a trance state. And I'm sitting there...

ORJI: She put a hex on him?


HARPER: ...And I'm watching it, and he does. He comes to his bed, which he hadn't slept in in months, and goes into this weird, little trance state. And also, all while this is going on, my phone's blowing up with, you know...

COULTON: (Laughter, applause).

HARPER: ...People calling and be like, hey, man. Congratulations. Oh, my God. I'm like, yeah, yeah, yeah. No. Yeah, it's cool. But here's the thing - it's like, my dog is with the psychic right now. And I need to focus and...


EISENBERG: It's been a three-month waiting list and we finally got an appointment.

HARPER: We finally got it.

EISENBERG: So how is Chico now?

HARPER: He's good.


HARPER: We - you know, he's on some medication.


HARPER: But he's good.

EISENBERG: Did the psychic say anything about your chances are of winning the Emmy?

ORJI: (Laughter).

HARPER: No. No, I try not to bring that into the room.


HARPER: This is about Chico.



HARPER: You know?

EISENBERG: And, Yvonne, where were you when you found out?

ORJI: You know, we - I won't say we've been let down, but we've been let down three years in a row. After a while, we were just like, you know, we're just making art, and whoever finds it...


COULTON: It's not about the awards. It's not about...

EISENBERG: The expression - about the expression.

ORJI: Yeah, yeah.


ORJI: So 8:30 - I'm watching live. We have a group chat, so I'm texting some of the cast members. And then the show gets nominated. And I'm like, yo, finally. So in my mind, I'm like, that's the win. That's it. Like, we got the thing. And then my phone rings. And it's Sam (ph), my publicist. And she's like, I'm so happy. I was like, I know, girl. We out here. We did it. We finally got one for the...


ORJI: I was like, we finally got one for this show. And she was like, no, Yvonne. Like, your name. I saw your...

COULTON: (Laughter).

ORJI: And I was like, oh, my God. Like, and then I was literally on phones or emails until like 8 o'clock that night.

EISENBERG: Yeah, for sure. Of course.

ORJI: And then I kept calling all my agents like, my rate just went up.

EISENBERG: That's right.

COULTON: (Laughter).

EISENBERG: All right. Well, that's perfect segue into a first game about celebrating awards. Are you ready for a game?

ORJI: All right. Let's do it.


EISENBERG: Fantastic. So, you know, you might be thinking right now in your fantasy about what your speech will be. And there is also supposed to be some sort of Oscar ceremony next April, we've been told. But until then, we have this game. We are going to play you a clip from an Academy Award acceptance speech...


EISENBERG: ...A very well-known one. You are just going to name the person accepting the award or the movie they're accepting it for. Yvonne, let's try your first one, OK? You're up. This first clip is of an actress who gets a standing ovation everywhere she goes.


MERYL STREEP: When they called my name, I had this feeling I could hear half of America going, oh, no.


STREEP: Oh, Come on. Why? Her again, you know? But whatever.


ORJI: I mean, my initial instinct is Meryl Streep. But I'm like...

EISENBERG: Yes, that's it. You always go with your initial instinct. That is correct.


EISENBERG: That is correct. I have to say my favorite kind of self-deprecating humor is award self-deprecating humor.


ORJI: I love that she was like, oh, well. I'm just that good. OK.

EISENBERG: Oh, well.

COULTON: Yeah. It's a little bit of a humble brag, too. It's like, I know everybody's sick of me getting nominated. I'm so sorry.

EISENBERG: But I won again.

COULTON: Sick of me winning these awards.

EISENBERG: Yeah. That was for "The Iron Lady."

COULTON: All right, William. Here is one for you. This is a clip from 2013.

HARPER: Oh, boy.


JENNIFER LAWRENCE: You guys are just standing up 'cause you feel bad that I fell, and that's really embarrassing. But thank you.

HARPER: Oh. That's Jennifer Lawrence.

COULTON: Yeah. That's right.




COULTON: From "Silver Linings Playbook." Yeah.


COULTON: Well done.

HARPER: Yeah, I remember that.

EISENBERG: I do like it when people - I mean, those dresses look - although it would be super fun to wear a dress like that. But they look impossible. So I appreciate that people are just like, no, I can't do it. I can't walk (laughter).

COULTON: Sometimes, you just can't walk.


EISENBERG: This was never meant for functioning.

ORJI: It's always the ones with the train. It's always the - it's...


ORJI: I had a train one year. And literally, at some point, I just have to pick it up because going to the restrooms, standing up, it would just - excuse me, excuse me. And people apologize. And, like, I'm so sorry. I'm like, I must own this dress now because to have so many footprints - like, this is...


EISENBERG: That's right.

HARPER: I think one of my favorite things about people falling, in particular in these highly architectural dresses, is how slow the fall is.


HARPER: It's never, like, a bam. You know, it's not like little kid on a bike. It's always just like, oh, we can fix this. We can fix this. We can fix this. Oh no no no, it's over. It's over.

COULTON: No, we can't. No, we can't (laughter).

HARPER: Yeah. I love it.

EISENBERG: All right. Yvonne, this is for you. This person is a director, and it's a super recent speech.


BONG JOON-HO: Thank you. I will drink until next morning. Thank you.


ORJI: I love this speech. That is from "Parasite." I know 'cause I watched, and he won, like, 85 times that night. That is Bong Joon-ho. Is that correct?

EISENBERG: That is correct.

ORJI: Yeah.

EISENBERG: Yeah, yeah, that's it. Well done.

ORJI: I be knowing.


COULTON: All right. William, this is for you. This clip is from 2014. And the movie this actress won for also went on to win best picture.


LUPITA NYONG'O: Thank you to the academy for this incredible recognition. It doesn't escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is thanks to so much pain in someone else's. And so I want to salute the spirit of Patsey for her guidance.

ORJI: Yeah, we needed that. We needed that moment (laughter).

HARPER: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, that is Lupita Nyong'o.

COULTON: That is correct.

HARPER: For "12 Years A Slave," yeah.

COULTON: "12 Years A Slave" - that's right.

HARPER: I just remember that speech - being like, I will never be this eloquent ever in any day in my life.

COULTON: I know.

HARPER: And, like, I was just, like who - how - whoa.

COULTON: I know.

HARPER: Whoa. The presence was just amazing.

ORJI: It was graceful. It was - and that was also when my mom called me and was like, (imitating accent) your friend has won an Oscar. I was like, my friend? I don't know her, Ma.


ORJI: But I think Lupita went and made, like, my endeavors make more sense to my parents. (Imitating accent) OK. OK. You can do it. The Kenyan girl has won. You, too, can do it. I was like...


ORJI: All it took is for someone to win an Oscar.


EISENBERG: After the break, William and Yvonne team up for a word game about world landmarks. And we have Tony Shalhoub and Luke Kirby from "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel." The Perseid meteor shower is canceled because guess what? We've got the real stars right here. I'm Ophira Eisenberg, and this is ASK ME ANOTHER from NPR.

COULTON: Technically, meteors are not stars.

EISENBERG: (Laughter).


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