My Happy Place: Ask Me Another

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NPR Nerdy Nerdlington just before entering the theatre. Tip: take marquee photo before the show. Afterwards, they had already changed the marquee to the next event!

Last week I attended the live recording of one of my favorite NPR quiz shows: Ask Me Another. When I heard the show was coming to Washington DC, I squealed with delight and added tickets to my cart as Christmas gifts. This show is a quiz/puzzler/trivia show, so it’s not political game show (like my other favorite, Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me). If you like to solve puzzles, answer trivia questions, enjoy making heads or tails of song parodies, and appreciate whatever person might be the show’s guest, I recommend giving it a listen. If you don’t know when or if your local NPR channel airs this show or it’s hard for you to devote a weekend hour to this smart show, you can download the podcast and listen. Technology: so convenient!

When I heard the show was coming to Washington DC, I squealed with delight and added the tickets to my cart.

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Puzzle Guru Art Chung, House Musician Jonathan Coulton, Host Ophira Eisenburg, and contestants from Metro and University of Maryland.

While Wait Wait is a more well-known show–in fact they just celebrated twenty years on the air–the two shows share an audience. The producers must know this because I first heard of Ask Me Another while listening to one of the promotions during Wait Wait’s podcast. Ask Me Another just celebrated its fifth year on the air, so it’s not as old but still, five years is nothing to sneeze at.

I love them, I know their voices, and feel that they are actually my friends (this is how radio listeners feel about radio hosts).

Anyway, it’s host, Canadian comic Ophira Eisenberg, and musician, Jonathan Coulton, were unknown to me, but now I love them, I know their voices, and feel that they are actually my friends (this is how radio listeners feel about radio hosts). They’re funny, witty, and I love listening to them. My kids feel a kid version of this. (I guess.) The kids’ eyes lit up when they tore open their ticket envelopes on Christmas morning. The week leading up to the show we anticipated it with pleasing expectation. We would see the show and watch it all happen live, in front of us. This is a special treat for radio (or podcast) listeners because watching a radio show is not like a TV show. It would be different. We would actually see them! Live! We would laugh along while the show unfolded and our laughter would be a part of the show!

We would actually see them! Live! We would laugh along while the show unfolded and our laughter would be a part of the show!

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Susan, cousin and fellow NPR nerd, geeking out with me before the show

The week leading up to the show, I hemmed and hawed about becoming a contestant. Did I want to spend the whole show “backstage” away from my kids? Also, was I smart enough? Could I solve the puzzles? A lot of times I slay on this show while playing along. Then again, sometimes I’m totally stumped. Hm. But I planned on attending the show to sit with my kids and watch from the audience, enjoying the whole experience together. I decided not to put my name in (by literally procrastinating until hours before the show). Who ended up on stage? Two people from the Library of Congress, a lecturer at University of Maryland, and a computer guy from Washington DC Metro (WMATA for the locals). I will admit, they get the cream of the crop. Not sure how I would have performed, but this group did not disappoint. In the end, I was completely content to participate as an audience member, and whistled when appropriate, hoping it’d be loud enough to make it onto the recording of the show.

There was time before the official recording began where Ophira spent time on stage, talking to us, dazzling us with her wit. It was just for us, the live audience, not for the radio audience. (Special!) The Warner Theater was beautiful and though we weren’t that far away, I had brought my binoculars, which helps you feel like you’re practically on the stage. The guest was Chris Hadfield, “the moustachioed Canadian Astronaut” who thrilled us with his engaging stories and even played live music.

In conclusion, all the superlatives.

In conclusion, all the superlatives. The show just came out a couple of days ago and my kids and I have been listening. Re-enjoying the show with “Remember when Ophira did so-and-so? Remember how they had to re-record that part? Wasn’t that funny? Remember how that guy jumped up during that story?” And now we can answer all the questions correctly to every single quiz or puzzler from the show. I treasure the evening I spent with my family and friends and we will always share the amazing memories of our time together enjoying Ask Me Another (and a link to the show as long as we have the internet)!

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The whole gang, nerding out afterwards, still smiling even after realizing we wouldn’t get to meet Ophira and Jonathan.

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