NPR's Ask Me Another Comes To Haverford
Four students were contestants on the popular radio program and podcast when it taped its first college show live on campus.
The laughs and only-at-Haverford moments started just minutes into the recording of the NPR trivia game show Ask Me Another on campus Nov. 4 . Host Ophira Eisenberg asked first-round contestants Charlotte Eisenberg ’19 (no relation) and Maya Behn ’18 what they’d had for breakfast that day.
“I like granola from the Dining Center,” said Eisenberg, an applied math major, “although there’s been a little bit of controversy. They tried to take away the good granola last year. We wrote napkin notes. It came back.”
Deadpan, the host replied, “I like how you said ‘napkin notes,’ like that’s a thing.”
This was the first time the popular radio program, geared towards millennials, has recorded on a college campus. The event, sponsored by the Speakers Committee, drew a full house to Marshall Auditorium, with the audience lining up an hour before the program began. The four contestants were chosen from 25 applicants, who had to answer a difficult quiz made up of word games, puzzles, and trivia questions online.
At the Haverford show, the first challenge was “Cereal Brawl.” Co-host and house musician Jonathan Coulton offered an off-kilter description of a cereal brand, and the contestants needed to come up with another name for the cereal with one letter changed.
Sample question: There’s nothing like the snap, crackle, and pop of a bowlful of rodents.
Answer: Mice Krispies.
Host Eisenberg got some laughs by poking fun at Haverford, noting that the evening’s “four brilliant contestants are backstage reading SparkNotes, waiting to play our nerdy games. … It’s great to be here surrounded by the finest minds taking liberal arts majors, still optimistic about their futures.”
She then confessed to having studied theater and cultural anthropology at McGill University.
“I figured I would take the theater, and if that didn’t pan out, I’d fall back on anthropology,” she quipped.
Contestants Eisenberg and Behn went head-to-head in the first two rounds. After the granola anecdote, Ophira Eisenberg turned to Behn, “I felt like that story really took me on a ride. … Maya, what did you eat for breakfast? And please keep it simple.”
“Oatmeal,” replied the junior studying pre-med and English. “Quaker school, Quaker oats.”
“The Quakers like the Quaker versions, yeah, that’s true. The Protestant oats are weird,” the host noted.
After Charlotte Eisenberg won the match-up, it was time for the second-round contestants—Jai Nimgaonkar ’19, a sophomore studying the history of science, and Gabriela Lomba Guzmán ’18, a comparative literature major. One of their challenges was built around a song parody, with Coulton changing the lyrics to the DNCE song “Cake by the Ocean” and challenging the contestants to guess what other things by the sea he was referring to.
Sample lyric: “Someday in a fun two-piece, someday in a fun two-piece, named for an atoll where they tested atomic bombs.”
Guzmán won her segment of the show, and then faced off against Charlotte Eisenberg in the final game called “Just Say No,” in which all answers ended in the letters “no.”
Sample question: A musical instrument that gets its name from the Italian word for soft.
Charlotte Eisenberg was the evening’s champion and walked away with an Ask Me Another Rubik's Cube as a prize.
Comedian Eugene Mirman was the episode's "Very Important Puzzler," answering questions about majoring in stand-up comedy at Hampshire College, being a new father, and taking out a full-page newspaper ad to protest a parking ticket before playing an on-stage game in which he had to come up with punny burger titles (à la the running gag on Bob's Burgers, on which he voices the character Gene). He won.
The Haverford episode—Ask Me Another's first college show—will air in January.